27th Sunday of Ordinary Time

In my second year novitiate, I was assigned to be Guest Master. My job was to insure that the room was cleaned for an incoming guest and also cleaned when they left. When I had completed this work, I would almost always go to my Superior to tell him it was done. Towards the end of my novitiate, when we were having our final evaluations my Superior brought this up, he said that I should just do what I’m asked to do and I didn’t need to come to him for his affirmation. It may seem like a small thing, but he was right.  He was getting at my intention and motivation. In this week’s Gospel, Jesus uses some harsh language. To his apostles he says “when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we out to have done!’” If in another passage Jesus says, “I do not call you servants any longer… but I have called you friends,” we cannot understand Christ’s words as seeking to foster an identity which primarily sees oneself as a slave. So the meaning must be something different.

While speaking to a group of young people, Pope Francis jokingly proposed that the sacrament of Confirmation be changed to be called the “sacrament of farewell.” In response to his teasing, the youth all shouted “No! No!”  Pope Francis is on to something.  The practice of our faith and the living out of our faith cannot be something on the outside.  Rather, it is an external expression of an internal reality and they must not be separated.  If a young person is led to believe that being fully received into the Christian community is about memorizing certain things and saying certain things, we have let them down by wrongly identifying the faith with merely outward expressions.  And so, the words can lose their power and attraction and people leave the Church.  The motivation and intention of our Christian action is simply giving form to what is within each person.  If we admire the love and gentleness in a parishioner they are not simply doing a duty.  In their own hearts they have come to know God’s love and gentleness, and God’s love and gentleness is then transforming their hearts.  So if they act with love and gentleness it is because love is gentleness is within.  If someone shows mercy and compassion, they do so for the same reason.  If one stands against injustice they do so because they are learning what it truly means to be a son or daughter of God.

The living of our faith is not for reward, compliment or affirmation.  It is being true to what we know in our hearts.  We are called to be the signs of God’s Kingdom, to be his instruments, to be the hands of his loving will.  If we don’t do it, who then will?  As St. Paul wrote in the Second Reading, “Rekindle the gift of God that is within you” and, “Guard the good treasure entrusted to you.” And in the face of such a beautiful, yet demanding vocation, we honestly and humbly say to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”

God Bless & Take Care,

Fr. John

Parish Bulletin for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time227.19 KB

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