10/4/09

Homily for the 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time



(Today's scriptures)

I came across a great little song on the internet,
a song appropriate for this weekend
(October 4 is St. Francis day and the Blessing of Animals)
and a song to help us understand the scriptures we just heard, too.

(See the video above; having no projection technology in my church, I sang the song)

I look up and I see God
I look down and see my dog
Simple spelling G-o-d
same word backwards d-o-g

They would stay with me all day,
I’m the one who walks away
But both of them just wait for me
and dance at my return with glee

Both love me no matter what
divine God and canine mutt
I take it hard each time I fail
but God forgives, dog wags his tail

God thought up and made the dog,
dog reflects a part of God
I’ve seen love from both sides now
It’s everywhere - Amen, bow-wow

I look up and I see God
I look down and see my dog
And in my human frailty
I can’t match their love for me.

- Song (and more info) by Wendy Francisco

You don’t have to have a dog or any pet to understand that simple song.
There is, in each of us, an innate desire for COMPANIONSHIP,
for the faithful, loving forgiving company of another:
someone who will not abandon us,
who will always be there for us.

As the Lord put it in the first reading today --
It’s not good for us to be alone…

Companionship…

And it’s God who planted this desire for companionship within us
and that’s because God desires companionship with us!
The Lord is not only God-with-us (Emmanuel),
but also God-who-WANTS-to-be-with-us.]

God desires us
- and we are made to desire God.

Every relationship we have, every love that is ours,
is a companionship given to lead us to God.

In the Christian faith, from the earliest times,
the companionship of marriage
has always been proposed as an image, a sacrament,
a living sign of how intimately God desires
to love us and to be with us.
The companionship, the union of two spouses
in a love that is full, faithful and forgiving
is meant to be a sign of how we are loved by God.
That’s why we often refer to Christ as the bridegroom
and the church as his bride.

But none of us is a stranger
to the pain, the disappointment, the loneliness
of relationships that break, separate, fade away.

And this is most tragic when it’s the bond of marriage that is dissolved.

No wonder, then, how jealously the faith guards the marriage bond -
even as Jesus does in the gospel today
where his words are strong and can sound harsh.

Jesus speaks here of the great gift that marriage is
and how carefully we must nurture it, care for and protect it
because in scripture, in law, in spirit
and in the flesh of two human beings
(A man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,

and the two shall become one flesh)
marriage is intended as a sign of God’s abiding love
and desire for companionship with us.

Every loving relationship we have should be understood
as an instance of our God-given desire for companionship,
for the faithful, loving forgiving company of another:
someone who will not abandon us, will be there for us always,
as God is with us in Christ.

Here in this church today, at this Mass,
we are single, celibate, searching, engaged,
some in strong marriages, some in troubled marriages,
some living together without benefit of marriage,
some separated, divorced, annulled, remarried, widowed
- but all of us are here seeking the companionship faith offers us
in prayer with one another - and in Christ
who loves us always fully, faithfully and with forgiveness.

In fact, the word “companion” comes from two Latin words,
com and panis, meaning, “one you break bread with...”

In the companionship of breaking the bread
and sharing the cup of the Eucharist
may we find companionship with our God,
God who is with us in Christ, in the Word
and in one another.

-ConcordPastor

18 comments:

Concord Carpenter said...

Great homily

Anonymous said...

Father Fleming, perhaps you should just come out and say that marriage is between a man and a woman, not just between "two human beings," and that procreation as well as companionship is an essential end of marriage. I fear some in the congregation may be confused about these church teachings, which need to be strongly affirmed.

Irish Gal

christine said...

Irish Gal: You should do as concordpastor suggests: THINK before you write. Procreation is NOT an essential end of marriage. Do you not know anyone in your life that was unable to have children?? But their marriage is just as blessed as those who do. Also, I believe marriage between two human beings sums it up perfectly. Anyone who finds companionship and love with one another is blessed in this life. I'm one who's "searching", and very grateful my dog loves me as much as she does! But from this homily, what I got is that GOD is loving me unconditionally also. If I don't have a spouse or someone that loves me, I should know that God is out there waiting for me and loving me.

Anonymous said...

Love the homily and the song. I am a God and Dog lover so it worked well for me.

Anonymous said...

I married a man but we were not blessed with children so how do we fit into the procreation thing. I noticed the marrigage between 2 human begins and thought it well put.

Anonymous said...

Dear Christine, Perhaps a reading of Catholic doctrine is in order. Or better yet, Concord Pastor can explain -- as he does so well -- the essential meaning of marriage in response to your query. Nowhere in church teaching is marriage described as between human beings; I suspect Father merely erred in his phrasing.

Irish Gal

Anonymous said...

Austin, your homilies are always so thoughtful and loving. Truly God is with you. As a single woman who's known only failed love relationships, this weekend's reading are always painful. But you put it in a perspective that's so rarely heard and that can speak to all of us with sense and compassion. Yes, I do "break bread" with friends who love me and will not abandon me. It's nice to reflect on this. Thank you.

flute-singer

Steve said...

Nice homily today. One of the best I've heard...and I've heard a lot of good ones from you.

christine said...

Hopefully, being Catholic, is not a prerequisite to commenting and reading this blog. I read Fr. Fleming's homilies and posts for hope and the inspiration they give me to be a better person. This Monday morning offering is a perfect example of what this blog offers to me. Today I will have in my head the prayer, " Who I truly am is who I am in you, my God, and nothing more..."

anne said...

The point of a homily is to preach about God's love for us. It is never a good idea to make anyone in the assembly feel guilty. The homily is a time to listen and get a sense of God's love for us no matter what and God's desire to be present to us and with us. It's about connecting the Word with Sacrament. Father Austin does this well each week.

Anonymous said...

Anne,

Is the point of a homily always to make one feel good, to be "affirmed?" Did Jesus do that? Did he give warm fuzzy puppy dog lectures to the Pharisees? Or should preaching help us raise the bar, to aspire to something better, to change our lives? Remember the Gospel admonition "Repent, and believe the Good News?"

I personally think this homily falls short of explaining the deep meaning of the text -- and find that especially troubling on what has been declared "Respect Life" Sunday.

I also -- personally -- find homilies that focus on the preachers' performance (and it was a literal performance in this case) distracting from the word of God, taking the focus off the Scriptures and putting it on the speaker.

The hard words of the Gospel require clear explanation. God does love us, "no matter what" but like a good parent, has high expectations for us.

(I'm still interested, Father, in hearing why you chose the "human being" versus man and woman terminology.)

Irish Gal

Shawn said...

I'm very surprised you haven't gotten more comments on this post. The homily was great. The comments are less then great. I'm surprised more people haven't commented on the less than great. Maybe they've simply given up on those who have a deaf ear.

michelle said...

...or they haven't commented from fear, or something... (um, speaking for myself only, of course)

I agree with you, Shawn.

St Edwards Blog said...

I am late to this, but here none the less.

What a wonderful homily and one that reminds us of so much that we need to be reminded of.

Your words that say in particular, "Here in this church today, at this Mass,
we are single, celibate, searching, engaged,
some in strong marriages, some in troubled marriages,
some living together without benefit of marriage,
some separated, divorced, annulled, remarried, widowed
- but all of us are here seeking the companionship faith offers us
in prayer with one another - and in Christ
who loves us always fully, faithfully and with forgiveness."


The essential nature of a loving heart, the place where the real inbreaking of the spirit can occur, an inbreaking that will transform us and ask us to transform others.

Thank you for this reminder.

Fran

Anne said...

I agree with Shawn...great homily. My favorite part was "There is, in each of us, an innate desire for COMPANIONSHIP,
for the faithful, loving forgiving company of another:
someone who will not abandon us,
who will always be there for us." You just know truth when you hear it.

And I especially like that you, Fr. Austin, make room for everyone. What is most important is LOVE and you expressed that beautifully.

apc said...

Loved the homily and even all the comments! I don't think the good Father erred in his phrasing at all and loved his choice of words regarding marriage.
I think homilies should make one think, reflect, grow and this one, once again, does. thank you!

anne said...

A homily is liturgy. It is suppose to be clarify scripture and connect it to the ritual action, not divert our attention away from the ritual. Perhaps some of you have been diverted. A homilist presupposes that if people are coming,they are faithfilled. They know what their religion is about. They know the teachings of the Church regarding marriage. If a parish has a good marriage prep program and good on-going support for married people...they know. You know! Sometimes doctrine is good and necessary in a homily. Sometimes a priest can walk a fine line. I think here in Massachusetts especially, some people have become very defensive when it is just not necessary.

ConcordPastor said...

- Some folks see an agenda where there is none but to relieve any anxiety and suspicion I have amended a sentence in my homily by inserting the very scripture I was preaching on, something that seemed obvious to me when I was writing the homily.

- The Church teaches that procreation and companionship are the ends of Christian marriage. And the Church recognizes marriages in which procreation is not possible on account of a biological impediment or advanced age.

- No one homily can ever offer everything there is to be said on a given scripture. While preaching does have a catechetical dimension, homilies are not primarily catechetical in form or purpose.

- Jesus, the Preacher of all preachers, frequently used animals to illustrate his message, including a: dove, fish, camel, sheep, goat, hen, chick, colt, bird, wolf, snake, scorpion, worm, whale and yes, even a dog.

- It's true that I didn't do justice to the whole of the scriptures here. I should have given at least a homiletic nod to this verse in the gospel: "They were testing him."

- Readers of all faiths are welcome here and welcome to comment!

- In addition to comments posted above I received comments I did not publish and off-blog email correspondence. While I am pleased to post comments of differing opinions, I will not post comments questioning the good will, sincerity or integrity of anyone in this forum.

And as I've written before, I do not conduct parish business in the comboxes of this blog. Parishioners are free to contact me with their concerns. Anonymous correspondence will be given the attention it deserves.