Homily for August 30

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Homily for the Twenty-second Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

I can’t help but think that if James were writing to us today
that instead of saying,
 “Be doers of the word and not hearers only.”
that he would have written instead,
 “Be doers of the word and not posters only.”

If you’re on FaceBook or Pinterest or Twitter, or read a blog or two,
you know how often people post scripture verses
and religious and spiritual quotes.
But just as it’s not sufficient simply to hear the word, to listen to it,
neither is it enough to post it online.

What we’re called to is doing the Word of God.
And “doing the word” is almost always much more difficult
than hearing it or reading it – or posting it online.

• The word of the Lord tells us to “Love one another”
– beautiful words to hear
but we who gather in the shadow of the crucified Jesus,
we know the depth of love we owe one another,
especially those we’ve hurt or offended,
-and- those against whom we hold a grudge.

• We’re often encouraged to  “Practice random acts of kindness”
but the word of the Lord calls us far beyond random generosity
to be ready to lay down our lives for others
in serving our neighbor.

• The word of the law doesn’t just call us to “Avoid conflict.”
but rather calls us to be make peace: reconciling with one another,
forgiving those who have hurt us,
and reconciling with God when we’ve sinned.

• The word of the Lord asks more of us than, “Play fair.”
God’s word calls us to do what is just,  and to confront injustice
especially when it shackles the poor and the marginalized.

• The word of the Lord calls us to choose life
– but not only to choose it
but to reverence life and to respect, protect and defend life
in all its shapes and forms, wherever we find it.

Be doers of the word and not hearers only… 
We can be sure we’ve heard the word the Lord
when that word confronts us and challenges us;
when it upsets life as we know it and demands more of us
than we may be ready to willingly give.
And once we’ve heard the word of the Lord
we responsible for bringing it to bear on all aspects of our lives.           

• How do I “do” the word of the Lord in my family life?
in my marriage? in raising my children? in respecting my parents?
How do I do the word of the Lord as a pastor in my parish?
How do I do  the word of the Lord where I work?
in business?  at school? 
in my relationships in my neighborhood and social circles?

• How do I “do” the word of the Lord in forming my conscience
In my personal choices and decisions?
In my finances? in my charitable giving?
In how I share my gifts and talents?

• How do I “do” the word of the Lord in my free time?  
in my dreams and fantasy? in the entertainment I choose?

• How do I “do” the word of the Lord in my politics?
in the voting booth?

• How do I “do” the word of the Lord in my own prayer,
as I stand before God who gives me his word, his law,
as a gift of his wisdom to save me
from my own selfishness and foolishness?

James, and Jesus in the gospel today, remind us
that each of us can be defiled     by what comes out of us,
what comes from our hearts,
that from within us might come
evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed,
malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance and folly.

That’s quite a list!
Not something you want to mention in polite company!
But all of us, in our human frailty, to greater or lesser degrees,
all of us have the potential for just these things –
in thought, if not in deeds
What will preserve us from them is precisely what James counsels:
doing the word of the Lord – and not just hearing it.

To help examine ourselves in this regard,
each of us might look back at the week just past and ask ourselves,
 “How, last week, did I do more than hear the word of the Lord?
How, last week, did I do the word of the Lord.
How, last week, did doing the word of the Lord
make a difference in my life
and in the lives of those around me?”

That’s last week.
And it’s not too early to begin thinking about the week ahead…

Every time we gather to celebrate Mass, in a very concrete fashion,
we DO what the word of the Lord,
we do what the Lord asked of us.
We come together in faith and prayer.
We listen to his word in scripture.
We take bread and wine, we bless, break and share these gifts,
remembering that Jesus asked us to do just this
on the night before he gave his life for us on the Cross.

May the nourishment of Christ’s Body and Blood in the Eucharist,
may the sacrifice of praise we offer at this altar,
make of us all doers of the word – and not hearers only.


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