Homily for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)
Audio for homily
How often do we find ourselves caught -
trying to decide between several options, especially important ones?
“Let’s see… I could do X, or I could do Y
– or maybe Z would be the best thing to do.”
• X might be the easiest choice.
• Or Y may be the most practical way to go.
• And Z might just “kinda feel right.”
And sometimes we pray over our options:
“Dear God: X, Y and Z are before me.
Help me make the best choice.”
Whether we’re 8 years old or 80 years old, we all make choices.
• But what if -in God’s mind-
what if the best choice is neither X, nor Y, nor Z.
What if it’s A or B or C?
Who is it, or what is it that decides which are the options
we end up considering?
• What if none of the options I’m discerning
is the path God wants me to choose?
• What if I’ve consciously or unconsciously avoided considering
a particular option because it’s one I know I don’t want to choose?
• Or what if, in all honesty, there’s an option I didn’t consider
because I truly didn’t see it; I simply wasn’t aware of it?
• In making my way through the puzzle of my life -
what if I don’t have all the puzzle pieces in front of me?
• Could this be why- even what appear to be my best choices -
sometimes end up disappointing me and leaving me unhappy?
The first scripture today suggests a way out of this dilemma.
King Solomon prayed
and he was given a spirit of prudence and wisdom.
And he preferred these to all his royal power,
to all his goods and wealth.
Prudence and wisdom are just what you and I need
to make sure that we have all the pieces of the puzzle in front of us.
Prudence and wisdom are the tools I need:
- to ensure that I see all my options;
- that I understand as much as possible the source of my options;
and why some appeal to me, why others don’t;
why some so easily claim my attention
- while others escape my notice.
But most of all, prudence and wisdom
can help me see as God sees,
can help me see what God sees
can help me choose as God would have me choose,
understanding that God only and always desires my happiness.
And at the heart of this is faith:
faith that God knows better than I what choice is best for me.
And for many of us (certainly for myself)
- that’s not always easy to accept.
To pray as King Solomon did, to pray for prudence and wisdom,
is to pray to desire to do what God asks of me.
Or, at least to pray to want to desire to do what God asks.
The truth is that some folks, maybe many folks, go through life
without all the pieces of the puzzle on the table –
No wonder they might end up unhappy with their choices.
This experience has a long history.
Remember the wily snake in the garden of Eden?
That evil rascal tempted the man and woman there
to ignore there the one thing God was asking of them.
The snake was the first one to say, “Fuhgeddaboudit!”
(You can find “Fuhgeddaboudit” in Genesis chapter 3, verse 4-5)
That evil one is still around today.
Pope Francis preached about him just two days ago.
He spoke of how our conscience can be “anesthetized”
and that once the tempter has anesthetized our conscience
he becomes its master.
If you have trouble with talk about “the tempter” or “the evil one,”
rest assured that he has many other names and identities.
• the tempter is the easy way out
• the tempter is whatever favors me and mine
• the tempter is what I wanted in the first place
• the tempter is the status quo, what feels good,
the least demanding, what I already agree with.
These are the sedatives that anesthetize my conscience.
Only a desire for prudence and wisdom can rouse and waken me
from the spiritual coma they can induce.
Only prudence and wisdom can help me see
all the pieces of the puzzle, all the options in my life.
Only prudence and wisdom can help me choose wisely.
A good example for us all / is that rich man in today’s gospel.
He had made so many good choices
that he could honestly say to Jesus:
“I’ve kept all the commandments -- since my youth!”
(Could any of us say that?)
But this man must have lacked a certain prudence and wisdom
because there was one more thing he needed to do,
one more option he needed to choose
and he didn’t see it - until Jesus pointed it out to him.
For this man, it was giving of his wealth to those who were poor.
But what would be that “one more thing,” that “other option”
- in my life and yours?
And what if we lack the wisdom to know what that one thing is?
What if we lack the prudence to do it.
We should not presume we know all things,
not even about ourselves – especially about ourselves.
We need prudence and wisdom
to see all the pieces of our puzzled lives
and to discern how the Lord would have us assemble them.
As we come to the altar today we might consider all the options
that lay before Jesus at the most critical moment in his life.
On the night before he died,
there was one option he prayed would be taken away from him:
the option of suffering for others – suffering for us.
But with prudence and wisdom
Jesus found and chose that “one more thing” God asked of him
and from his acceptance comes our pardon
(forgiveness for all the poor choices we’ve made
and for the good choices we’ve failed to make);
and from his acceptance comes our peace
(the peace that only prudence and wisdom can offer);
and from Jesus’ acceptance comes the promise of life forever
(the reward for living as God desires us to live).
Pray with me at the Lord’s table today
as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice:
pray for the wisdom to know what the Lord asks of each of us
and for the prudence and courage to choose it and to do it.
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