Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C)

Wis 18:6-9; Heb 11:1-2,8-19; Luke 12:32-48

OTHER HOMILY SOURCES from Fr. Tommy Lane

A) God’s Unexpected Communications with us

Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday of Year C

by Fr. Tommy Lane

A wealthy American was being shown around the Vatican and as the Pope was in Castel Gandolfo he was taken into the Pope’s private apartment. On the Pontiff’s desk he noticed a gold telephone and was told that it was a direct line to God. When he asked if he could use it he was told that it would cost a half million dollars. He didn’t call. He stopped in Ireland on the way back to America and visited the parish where his ancestors came from. He stopped by the Pastor to check the parish registers and while there he noticed that the Pastor also had a golden telephone on his desk. Again he was told that it was a direct line to God and when he asked how much a call would cost he was told 12 pennies for three minutes. The stunned American said they wanted to charge him a half million dollars in the Vatican. “Yes” said the priest, “but over here it is just a local call.” (I do not know the source of this story.)

If only communicating with God were as easy for us as picking up the phone and dialing his number. On the other hand does God ever try to communicate with you? Does God phone you? God communicates with us every day. The question is, “Do we listen?” Radio stations are broadcasting 24 hours a day. But we need to tune our radio into the station to pick up the signal. God communicates with us every day too, if we make the effort to tune in. To use the words of today’s Gospel, we need to be dressed for action with our lamps lit. (Luke 12:35)

Sometimes God communicates in ways we would not expect. In today’s Gospel Jesus said, “You too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:40) God calls at unexpected times but also in unexpected ways. Sister Briege McKenna recalls that when she was only 14 years and her mother died it was the catalyst that made her think about entering the convent. Later Briege was suffering from crippling arthritis which ran in her family. She had it since she was 18 years old and one day 7 years after getting the disease she was in a charismatic prayer group when she felt a hand on her shoulder. There was no one sitting behind her or beside her. She noticed a power going down through her and her feet straightened out. Since then she has been traveling the world praying for healing for others. These are two examples from her life in which God came suddenly and unexpectedly.

For most of us, God does not come to us so dramatically but nevertheless we sense God’s presence. I was amazed at the large number of people all over the country who felt God speak during the storm on Christmas Eve (1998) which left much of the country without power during the Christmas season (1998). Sometimes God can come unexpectedly in ways that we would never expect. Strangely some people realized with the benefit of hindsight, that when they were aware of their sinfulness and weakness and being abandoned by God, that they were in fact being visited by God. St. John of the Cross said the cause of such discomfort is that God is flooding the soul. He said when the light is not shining the cobwebs (sinfulness) are not seen, but when the light (God) is turned on then everything, even what is unpleasant, becomes visible. He also said this is like a nurse (God) bringing bitter medicine (awareness of sinfulness) to the soul, and the medicine is needed to get better. Also strangely another way in which God  has come unexpectedly to some is when painful things from their past surfaced again which they thought had been healed. This is an opportunity to receive the grace of even more healing from God and freedom from these events. Also strangely some say that another way in which God comes unexpectedly is when they experience what they call a mid-life crisis. They are not referring to something physical in the body because it happens to both men and women but they say that during that time everything they trusted in disappears. During that time their securities vanish or are shown up to be useless and they learn to trust in God in a new deeper way. For them it really is moving from false gods to the One True God.

Radio stations are broadcasting but we must tune in our radio to pick up the signal.  God communicates with us every day if we have the ears to hear.  Sometimes God communicates with us in unexpected ways.  Are you open to God speaking to you?  Jesus said in the Gospel, “You too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:40) “There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

frtommylane.com/homilies/year_c/19.htm

B) Lamps lit for Jesus

Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday of Year C

by Fr. Tommy Lane

At the end of school what do you want to do?
– I want to do my Senior Certificate.
After your Senior Certificate what do you want to do?
– I want to go to college.
After college what do you want to do?
– I want to get a job.
Then what do you want to do?
– I want to make big money.
What do you want to do after making money?
– I want to build a big house.
After that what do you intend to do?
– I want to get married.
What will you do after getting married?
– I will have a family.
What will you do after having a family?
– I will retire.
What do you want to do after you retire?
– I want to take a rest.
What will you do after taking a rest?
– I don’t know.
Will you die?
– Oh yes, I will die too.

In that conversation the student answering those questions had to be reminded that he would die. His main preoccupation was with all the things he would do during life. He didn’t seem to spare a thought for the fact that one day he will have to depart this life. We could say he was living for the present, with no thought about the present life disappearing. Many people would admit that they were so busy in the early part of their lives that they had not much time for God. They were busy building up their careers or busy with so many other things that their spiritual lives were not high in their list of priorities. But as time went by they began to realize more and more that life here is passing, that we are only passing through, and that the purpose of life is, as we learned in school, to know, love and serve God. That is why many people become more prayerful and spiritual as they grow older. They can see that life is short and goes by very quickly. One person said to me that when he passed the age of fifty he felt life was going by so quickly that there were two Christmases every year! We all know the first commandment, “I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.” (Ex 20:2-3) For many people it takes half a lifetime to see that they had in fact false gods and God was losing out. I will never forget an anonymous note left on my desk at the break during one of my Scripture courses. In it the person said he/she had been wasting life before attending my course. We are familiar with the saying, “Life begins at forty.” Our spiritual life does not begin at forty since we were baptized as infants and we are sons and daughters of God since baptism. Let us not waste our lives by losing out on the most important of all, friendship with God. Jesus said in the Gospel today,

“See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.” (Luke 12:35-37)

Let us not take half a lifetime to get dressed for action with our lamps lit. Let us not waste life. Let us wait for the master to return from the wedding feast and be ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks.

It is not popular in this country now to be dressed for Jesus and with our lamps lit for Jesus. It is not popular to wait for Jesus, to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. It is almost as if the country has become like Peter in the courtyard of the high priest on the night Jesus was captured. Peter denied he knew Jesus and went so far as to curse. Is Ireland denying that it knows Jesus? Our spiritual life does not begin at forty since we were baptized as infants and we are sons and daughters of God since baptism. Let us not waste our lives by losing out on the most important of all, friendship with God. Let us not take half a lifetime before we live the first commandment. Jesus said in the Gospel today,

“See that you are dressed for action and have your lamps lit. Be like men waiting for their master to return from the wedding feast, ready to open the door as soon as he comes and knocks. Happy those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.” (Luke 12:35-37)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

frtommylane.com/homilies/year_c/19-2.htm

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