Monday, August 29, 2011

22nd Sunday So many Words

Preparing for this weekend’s homily it occurred to me that, for the freshmen, the returning students and professors, the Church is giving them the first formative words of the semester. Of course we live in a world and in an age where we are inundated, even drowning in words; words that amuse, excite, hurt, mislead, heal, frustrate, confuse, delight, flatter, inform and more. Maybe we seek out the amusing ones even though they flash and sizzle as they quickly dissipate. Perhaps we seek out the flattering ones because we that the truth is the same as abandonment. Our world is full of words.

Not all words are trivial or false and so we should hold onto the true, beautiful, and good words. These words actually give life rather than take it. These words build us up—even as they trim some things down. These words are not always the loudest or most entertaining but they are the best. Thank you for allowing the Church to say these words to you today.
What word does the Church give you? “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” St. Paul the Apostle wrote these words 2000 years ago to the Church in Rome- not a message to pagans not yet converted but to baptized and practicing Catholics. Christians of every day need to be reminded the same thing. Do not conform to the spirit, the wisdom, or the words of this age but be transformed by God’s spirit.

Perhaps St. Paul’s inspiration was the story of St. Peter in the Gospel? Mere minutes before, Jesus declared Peter to be the Rock on which he would build his Church. Did that guarantee that Peter would always listen to the Word of Life? Did that guarantee that Peter would NOT listen to the flattering words of this age? No, so Jesus speaks non-amusing, unflattering and even stinging words to Peter. “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

Why? Because Jesus loves Peter enough to keep him from error. Might Jesus ever speak to us in this way? Probably. In fact, please Jesus, DO speak to me when I am in error.

In the year to come, you will hear many words on campus. Some will amuse, flatter, hurt, confuse or delight. Make yourself available to the Words of Jesus Christ, most especially through the Sacraments. His words may challenge or comfort but, when we seek Him in the Church they will always bring life if we are open.

Finally, we all need the Church. As Catholics we do not claim to be perfect, not even the Pope and especially not me. We all need the Catholic Church to support and encourage us when the voice of Jesus is faint or causes us distress. Our enemy loves for us to try things alone or to think that we are the only one who bear our burdens. Our enemy loves to foster impatience within us. You are not alone. Here the words of our own Pope: “Even for the believing man who is entirely open to God, the words of God are not comprehensible and evident right away. Those who demand that the Christian message be as immediately understandable as any banal statement hinder God.”

In this year to come, seek and listen for the Word of Jesus, seek the guidance of the Church and know that you are not alone.

Cross posted at

1 comment:

Kathryn said...

Hi Father,
This reminds me of what Mother Teresa says in No Greater Love,

"Words that do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness."

Thank you for this homily. Hope you are having a good week as classes begin and the students return.