Homily for July 15

Homily for the Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass


One prophet in today’s scriptures, Amos, got run out of town.
And in the gospel, Jesus instructs his followers on what to do
if they find themselves about to be booted  from a place
where their message a call to repentance,
is rejected and not welcomed.
They’re to “shake the dust off their feet.”
That’s an ancient equivalent of saying,
 “I wash my hands of this. I’ve done all I can and now I’m moving on.
I’m not even taking the dust of your streets with me.”

Like the prophets in Israel, these pairs of disciples missioned by Jesus
were sent to preach repentance, to preach a change of heart.
That’s not a message everyone wants to hear.
Most folks don’t want to be told by someone else:
 “Hey!  You need a change of heart!”
And, keep in mind that  prophets don’t so much predict the future
as much as they comment on and critique the present moment-
reminding their listeners of what the Lord has spoken to them
and what the Lord expects of them.
My overall mission as a preacher is to speak prophetically,
that is, to call of us to repentance.
So, I’ve been thinking about some
prophetic words I might preach in a homily
and I’ve come up with 8  contemporary prophetic statements
calling us to repentance - and here they are:

1) The planet on which we live was given to humankind as its first home    
and entrusted to our care.
We have a moral obligation to protect and preserve this gift
and we will be judged on our having succeeded or failed in doing so.

2) The virtue of justice is much more than a process
for getting what’s rightfully ours
or punishing those who have offended us.
Christian justice is the work of ensuring a right and just balance
between selfishness and selflessness.
The scriptures and the Church call us to exercise
a demonstrable preference for serving first
those poor and powerless on the margins of society.
As long as some of us have more than we need
and others have less than they need,
we OWE our neighbors in need
a generous share in the surplus that is ours.

3) Because human marriage
is intended to be a mirror of God’s love for his people,
Jesus raised it to the dignity of a sacrament
which should be entered only by those
ready to pledge and to keep a life-long union
promising to be faithful in good times and in bad,
in sickness and in health, until death.

4) Without denying governments the right to legitimate self-defense,
the scriptures and the Church condemn the horror of war
and summon us to secure a peace based on justice and love.

5) Whether a pregnancy is desired and welcomed - or not -
there is no degree of difference in the reality, sacredness,
nobility and quality of human life found in any womb.

6) Nothing another person does or fails to do, no matter how heinous,
nothing excuses us from the commandment to love our neighbor
and in particular, to love that person who is the least lovable.
Nothing another person does or fails to do
gives us license to hate, demean, curse or condemn that person.
The command to love one’s neighbor has no exceptions.          

7) We should strive to live as if this life were an introduction,
a proving ground, a practice session for a life that is yet to come
because that’s exactly what this life is:
a dress rehearsal for our life after death.
It’s upon the evidence of how we lived this life that we will be judged
and given our place, forever, in the next life.

(If these first 7 prophetic statements have been daunting,
we will all appreciate the eighth.)

8) The mercy of God is without limit and is given freely to all:
to all who freely acknowledge and confess their sins,
who do penance and who pledge, with God’s grace,
to change their hearts, turn away from sin,
and be faithful to the gospel.

Prophetic statements, of their nature, address matters that are
problematic, personal and political.
It’s precisely in these areas where we might need
to be called to repentance, to a change of heart.

The most demanding, compelling prophetic word or deed,
even spoken or done, is found in the person of Jesus
calling us to repent, calling us to a change of heart,
through the gift of his life for us on the Cross.

On the night before he died he offered at the table of the Last Supper
what he would offer the next day on the altar of the Cross:
the gift of his Body broken for us, his Blood poured out for us.

May the Eucharist we celebrate nourish us
with the grace and strength we need:
to repent, to turn away from sin,
to be faithful to the gospel,
to have a change of heart.


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