Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization

"Catholic Prayers for the New Evangelization"

Check out the revised edition of this exciting and unique prayer book, filled with prayers that are sure to nourish the soul as we undertake the New Evangelization.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Homily Twenty-Ninth Sunday of the Year 22 October 2006

In a recent homily,
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston told a very touching story.

It was the story of a girl, whose mother had very badly disfigured hands.
The girl was embarrassed by her mother,
and even made her mother wear gloves over her hands
whenever they went out in public together.
The mother’s physical disfigurement was a source of shame for her.
Years later, when the woman died,
her daughter brought gloves to the funeral home
to cover her mother’s hands in the casket.
As she brought the gloves out of her purse,
her father stopped her and began to tell her a story.
He said:
“One night, years ago, in the house we used to live in,
there was a fire in the nursery.
Your mother burned her hands when she went in through the flames
to rescue you out of your crib.
She never wanted you to know,
because she never wanted you to feel responsible
for what happened to her.”


That mother’s wounded hands were a testament to the depth of her love
for her infant daughter.
They are a sign that she would risk her own life to save her child.

No doubt each of you who are parents
would do the same for your children.

Jesus Christ, the Messiah promised by the words of the prophet Isaiah,
“came to give His life as a ransom for many.”

Through His suffering He rescued us from the power of sin.

The wounds which He bore on His body…
the lashes on his back
the crown of thorns pressed into his head
the nail marks in His hands and His feet
and the wound from the soldier’s lance that pierced His Sacred Heart
…all of these are a testament to the depth of His love.

Today, Saint Mark tells us the story of Jesus and His disciples
walking along the road to Jerusalem.
Jesus is preaching about the suffering He would soon endure.

James and John boldly ask Jesus a favor…
a favor that shows how little they understand what Jesus is all about.

Next to Peter…James and John are the disciples closest to Jesus.
The Scriptures tell us that Jesus took Peter, James and John
up the mountain with Him when He is transfigured
and into the Garden of Gethsemene on the eve of His passion.
It is John, the Beloved, who remains with Jesus in His agony on the Cross.
They are close to Jesus in the most significant moments of His life…
and still the meaning of His life remains hidden from them.

They ask:
“Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and one at your left.”

Jesus must have been heartbroken.
Here He is…
trying to get through to these men the meaning of His mission on earth…
men He loves very much
men whom He has hand-picked to be His followers
men to whom He entrusts the mission of preaching His good news…
and they ask for seats of honor and power.

So, if you ever find yourself frustrated or misunderstood…
turn to Jesus…for He understands…He knew these kind of feelings, too.

Jesus says to the disciples:
“…those who are recognized as rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them,
and their great ones make their authority over them felt.
But it shall not be so among you.
Rather, whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant.”
Jesus re-defines the meaning of power and authority.
For the followers of Jesus…
“power” does not mean using our talents, our recognition,
or our position in a community
as a means to control, or dominate, or serve ourselves.
Rather, we are all called to place our talents, our abilities, and our position
at the service of others.

Discipleship means loving and humble service.
Everything we have and everything we are is a gift from God.
So, just as Jesus came to give His life and to serve…
so we are called to place all that we have…and all that we are…
at the service of the Gospel.

In my seminary class on the Theology of the Priesthood,
we are reading an excellent book by a Jesuit priest.
He writes that for Jesus, “service entails the sacrifice of his own life.”
And so, the “priesthood does not seek its own advantage or glory.
It recoils from demanding to be served.”
Priesthood means exercising an authority which unfolds in love…
love without boundaries.

The vocation of the priest is a call to lay down everything…
talents, authority, even his very life…
at the service of the Gospel.

Of course, the mission to spread the Gospel does not rest solely
on the shoulders of the bishops, priests, and deacons.
That mission has been entrusted to each one of you who have been baptized.

You live and work in a culture that does not respect the values of our Church.
We live in a country where it is legal to kill an unborn child…
where it is acceptable to terminate or genetically alter an “unwanted” person
where even the basic right to life…
of the unborn, the infirm, and the elderly…
is not respected.

The mission to spread the Gospel has been entrusted to each one of us,
And now more than ever the world needs us to
use every opportunity we have…
to speak the truth with love.

Every day, in school, at work, in the stores…everywhere…
you encounter people in need of God’s love…
people who need to hear the truth of the Gospel.
Sometimes you no doubt encounter people whose lives are broken by sin.
They need to know that God loves them…
but they also need to hear that there is a better way to live…
the way of Jesus Christ.

We are privileged to be able to vote
and participate in the democratic process of our country,
something certainly not guaranteed everywhere.
Or civic duty brings with it the power to have an effect on the life of our nation.
We need to place that power at the service of the Gospel.
We need to look carefully at the issues…
and then look carefully at the moral teachings of our Church…
and allow our Christian values to guide us as we vote.

We possess the power to do tremendous good in our world
because we have come to know Jesus and His Gospel.
We must now put that power and knowledge at the service of others.

The fulfillment of this mission will not be without suffering.
Jesus told His Disciples that they would share the cup from which He drank.
We, too, will surely undergo suffering for the sake of the Gospel.
That is part of being a disciple.
But our suffering is not useless.
It is worth a great deal
if it is the means by which another person comes to know Jesus.

This morning, we approach the throne of grace to meet Jesus face to face
in the Eucharist.
With confidence, let us ask Him for the grace
to go forth from this Mass strengthened in our commitment to the Gospel…
so that all we say and do may testify to our deep love for Christ!

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