Homily for September 3

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

Audio for homily

St. Paul urged us in the second scripture today
to “discern the will of God, what is pleasing and perfect…”
Doesn’t sound easy - figuring out God’s will for me…

But suppose in our mail on Tuesday morning
 (there’s no mail delivery on Labor Day)
suppose we found this envelope
- addressed with your name, your address and your ZIP code
- with the return address:
Eternity (I guess there are no ZIP codes in heaven!)

And suppose in this envelope we found a letter from God,
outlining the Divine will for our lives…
Well, on the one hand,
all the hard work of discerning would be done for us
but on the other hand, there’d no longer be any excuses
for our not knowing and doing exactly what God wants us to do.

Saint Paul just gave us a clue about what we need to do
in order to discern and accomplish God’s will for us.
He urged us not “to conform ourselves to the present age”
but rather that we “be transformed by a renewal of our minds.”
Paul wrote nearly 2,000 years ago
but his words remain true today -
and I’ll bet he’d be blown away by our present age
and everything seducing us to conform to it.

There are so many ways
in which we’re tempted to conform ourselves
to our own wills rather than to God’s will:
to conform ourselves to the latest fad, to our desires,  our pride,
our own needs, our own notions and conceptions
of truth, justice and morality.
One way of getting at what might be God’s will for us
is to discern what we find
to be the most difficult thing to accept in our lives.

Very often, that difficulty, that stumbling block, that problem,
- that cross - might be a part of God’s will for us
that cross might be the result of our failing to discern or follow
what is God’s will is for us.

Now, that’s NOT to say that God wills
our troubles, our problems, our crosses.
What God does will, or better -what God’s will allows-
is for these burdens to be part of our lives.

In the gospel today, Jesus is speaking to those closest to him
about the suffering, the hard times - the cross - that will soon be his.
Peter intervenes, appearing to be concerned and helpful, saying,
 “God forbid, Lord!  No such thing will ever happen to you!”
A voice like Peter’s often intervenes in our lives, too -
a voice apparently concerned for our welfare
- but at the same time,
warning us away from accepting whatever cross might be ours.

Jesus accurately read Peter’s protective concern
as a temptation to refuse the cross he was to bear
and so Jesus urges us not to listen to the voice
that would counsel us in the same way
but rather, to take up whatever cross is ours
for that is part of our God’s will for us,
part of a larger plan in which those who bear their cross
will ultimately find life, and have life to the full, forever.

God’s will for us isn’t something we discern in an instant.
In fact, discerning God’s will is, for most of us, a life long process
in which, over and over again.
we examine our circumstances, our joys and our sorrows,
our burdens and blessings
and ask for the help, the grace, to bear what’s most difficult
that we might stay on the path that leads to peace.

So, let’s take a look inside the mail we might receive on Tuesday.
And here’s what it says:

My will for you:

1) Remember the words of St. Paul:
            “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”

2) Heed the words of the prophet Micah:
            “Do what is just, love what is good and walk humbly with God…”

3) Do as Jesus taught you:
            “Love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind -
                        and love your neighbor as yourself…”

4) Those first three are for everyone, this fourth is for you,
            but you’ll need to pray, to discern,
                        what is my particular will for you…

P.S.   Whatever is my will for you,
 I’ll be there to help you accomplish it.

Jesus discerned his Father’s will for him
and for our sakes, took up his Cross and offered his life for us.
He lost his life so that we might find ours.

And on the night before he died he gathered his friends at a table,
like our altar here,
and in the sacrament of his Body and Blood,
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist,
he gave us a share in the sacrifice that only he could make.

Pray with me that this same sacrament nourish us
for the work of discerning God’s will,
and of bearing our own crosses
that we might do what is good and pleasing
and walk humbly with the Lord.


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