HOMILY- 26th Sunday In Ordinary Time – Cycle A – St. Vincent DePaul Sunday

This was my very first real homily. I omitted the introductory “thank you”s to my pastor, parishoners and all who had been so supportive during my four years of formation to the Permanent Diaconate – especially my wife and kids of course.

This was preached at all four of our masses that weekend – a great way to start!

The readings for this Sunday are Ezek 18:25-28: Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9; Phil 2:1-11, 10:27 and Matt 21:28-32.

“The Jesus Christ we have just heard today is one who is on fire.

The parable you heard Deacon Darryl preach so well on last week takes place in Matthew’s gospel just prior to this one, but two critical events occur between them: Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and his cleansing of the money changers in the Temple.

These two events of extraordinary power and zeal change everything for Jesus and set the tone for the gospel passage we heard today. It is a very different Jesus we hear today from last week.

The Jesus we hear today is one who is no longer out in the countryside of Judea or Galilee but one who is now in the midst of his enemies, and his entry into their territory was dramatic to say the least.

They can no longer ignore him nor dismiss him as someone unimportant or inconsequential. The journey towards Calvary is reaching its climax – his hour is almost come – and Jesus is well aware of it.

Jesus’ message to the chief priests and the elders in this gospel is the very same message for us today – it is NOT by our intentions nor by our words that we will be judged, but by our actions. Meaning well is just not good enough.

Apathy and cynicism were then, as now, far too often the rule and it seems rarely the exception – Jesus wants to be clear that they must be rooted out of EACH of US if we aspire to Eternal life with him.

Jesus calls for a profound change of focus for all of us – just as Ezekiel did for the Israelites in exile during the first reading – he tells us to TURN AWAY from what is wrong in order to fulfill our true purpose here in this life – we must DO – not just say that we will, but actually DO – the will of the Father.

The father’s will is of course vast and there are many ways we can and should “DO” – but today I’m concerned specifically with one way in particular – one which I consider to be one of the most important.

As Jesus taught us in the parable of the Good Samaritan as well as in many others, God commands us to take care of the needs of our neighbor – a neighbor who is, simply and ultimately, whoever is in need.

For the past three years I have been privileged to be a member of the St. Vincent De Paul Society here at St. Gabriel’s – and today is St. Vincent De Paul Sunday.
The St Vincent DePaul Society is an international organization with local “Conferences” in parishes all over, who make it a point to quite literally “take action” and provide material and spiritual assistance to all those in need within their local boundaries.

Let me say that we of St. Gabriel’s parish truly know what generosity is. St. Gabriel is consistently THE top conference in the Archdiocese both in number of clients helped and in dollars donated, all of which comes from the wooden boxes in the back of church and which is used exclusively for the needy within our own Fern Creek & High View area.

One of the greatest things about the St. Vincent DePaul Society is that it provides a way for us as a community to follow the social command of Jesus – and we’ve just heard just how strong of a command it truly is.

Those of us in our local Conference bring the compassion of Christ to every client we help – and we do so in your name. We work very hard to be both good stewards of the funds given into our care as well as to be as compassionate, non-judgmental and as spiritually zealous as humanly possible to every client we help . . .
. . . Christ, you see, demands no less.

We are enormously grateful for the generosity from all our donors, but there are still very real challenges we face.
There are still often clients we cannot help for lack of funds – need is always growing it seems – and more than just in funding, we really need more volunteers to help.

Our Conference only has a handful of active members and quite frankly we often cannot keep up with the demands placed on us.

PLEASE consider helping us to be the hands of Christ to those in need – it’s a decision that can even change your life forever as it did mine three years ago. See the bulletin for details on our next meeting – consider yourselves invited – we would love to see you there.

I do want to leave you all with a bit of a challenge today – a spiritual challenge.

Truly loving our neighbor is something that often takes a lifetime of work to develop and before we can take whatever actions in each of our lives that Christ may be urging us to take, we need to properly discern his will.

I would like all of us to take into silent prayer this coming week the honest request for God to growth inside each one of us the true spirit of compassion for our neighbor – for ALL those less fortunate, to ALL those in need.

We all need to have our hearts more closely conformed to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and honest prayer is the best beginning.

You never know when one day you might, out of the corner of your eye, see someone else’s face reflected in the eyes of a person in need – and that face turn out to be that of Christ himself.”

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