February 19, 2017 Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr Jim Miller

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
February19, 2017

Reading 1LV 19:1-2, 17-18

Responsorial PsalmPS 103:1-2, 3-4, 8, 10, 12-13

  1. The Lord is kind and merciful.

Reading 21 COR 3:16-23

Alleluia1 JN 2:5

GospelMT 5:38-48

Homily— February 18 & 19, 2017


   Well, we made the front page of the Telegraph-Herald on Friday with the headline that “Nativity School has seen better days”.  I was interviewed by KCRG, the Telegraph-Herald, KDTH and KWWL.  We were blessed that the whole section of the West wall of the school did not fall onto the gas line and create an explosion. The gas is now shut off and the West wall is stabilized for now. We need to take out the asbestos. At our Thursday night meeting of the Pastoral Council the consensus was to make plans for the demolition of the building which would include upper and lower Kerper Hall. We will not know what is happening with the apartment complex and the newer school until around the middle of March. It has been suggested that anything of value should be removed from the school and put on the garage sale. If you have some ideas or thoughts that you would like to share with us or volunteer to help please come to a short meeting next Saturday after the 4:15 Mass or Sunday after one of the morning Masses. 

   One day God told Moses to assemble the entire community of Israel for an important message. So Moses did as he was told and God said:  “Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” Jesus issued essentially this same command at the end of today’s Gospel, except that Jesus used the word “perfect” instead of “holy.”  It sounds like an impossible demand.  How can we be like God?  The minute we ask that question, we hear an echo of the first chapter of Genesis:  “God created humankind in the divine image.”  We must have some potential? Perhaps our major problem has been with our definition of holiness or godly perfection. If we remember that God is love, then being perfect like God, is to love as God loves.  Luke translates the same command as to “be merciful as your heavenly Father is merciful.”

   On June 17, 2015, nine members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina were shot to death while participating in a Bible study in the basement of their church.  The shooter, a 21 year-old self-proclaimed white supremacist, had wandered into the room that evening.  Can you picture it? Nine black church-goers in the midst of prayer and study, look up to see a young white man in jeans and a sweatshirt.  Did they politely ask him to leave?  Did they threaten to call the police if he did not leave?  No.  They invited him to join them. For a time, he did just that, he participated in their bible study.  And just as they were ending their session, heads bowed in prayer, he pulled a gun out of his fanny pack and one by one he shot them. Can you imagine the anguish the families of those nine people experienced?  And yet, only three days later, when invited to share a statement at the shooter’s bond hearing, several of the family members turned to the shooter and said “I forgive you.”

   Pope Francis commented on the “universal call to holiness” saying, “We are all called to become saints! So often, we are tempted to think that holiness is granted only to those who…devote [their lives] to prayer. But it is not so!  Some people think that holiness is closing your eyes and putting on a pious face . . .No!  That is not holiness! Holiness is something greater, more profound that God gifts us.”  He went on to say, “When the Lord calls us to be saints, he does not call us to something hard or sad . . . Not at all! It is an invitation to share his joy, to live and offer every moment of our lives with joy, at the same time making it a gift of love for the people around us”.

   In this gospel Jesus tells us we must give more and go further than we would naturally choose in our relationships with one another.  We are to do so because we are “children of our heavenly Father” who wish to be perfect like this Father.

   Matthew Kelly, in the book we gave out at Christmas, writes, “When was the last time someone said to you, ‘I really want to be an excellent Catholic’?  Maybe never.  Excellence isn’t even on our radar.  As a result, we now live in a time when, as Catholics living in the United States, we have become deeply committed to our mediocrity.  We stopped striving for inner, spiritual excellence, and because the external is an over flow of the internal, we started doing things in a mediocre way.”

   Lent begins on March 1 and would be a good time to decide to be an A+ Catholic instead of a C Catholic.   We all can do better at living our faith.