October 15, 2017 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time Deacon Steve Whiteman

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 IS 25:6-10A

Responsorial PsalmPS 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

  1. (6cd) I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.

Reading 2 PHIL 4:12-14, 19-20

Alleluia CF. EPH 1:17-18

  1. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel MT 22:1-14

Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
During the homily today we will need some active participation. It’s a memory exercise but you don’t have to share these memories with anyone if you don’t want to. Please think about 2 experiences in your life:

1.   An invitation you received that you are glad you accepted.

2.   An invitation you accepted but wish you had never received.  repeat

We will come back to these memories in a minute so hold those thoughts…

We receive countless invitations throughout our lives. Some are very important and may only be offered for a limited time like a marriage proposal or a new job offer. Most are less important and happen all the time like an invitation to participate in a phone survey. With mass mailings and robo-calls, it’s tempting to ignore most invitations but how do we know the difference? How do we know when an invitation we receive is actually a great opportunity?

Our readings this weekend talk about invitations of a divine nature. In the first reading and the Gospel, we heard about an invitation to a sumptuous banquet and wedding feast where everyone is invited. In the 23rd Psalm, we heard the familiar invitation from God to lead us beside restful waters and to guide us on the right path.

These are beautiful spiritual images that bring us courage and hope but:

How do we recognize an invitation from God in our everyday lives? How do we know if an invitation we receive will help us grow closer to God or actually lead us away?

In my own experience, these divine invitations are not usually loud or big and bold like most of the media content we are subjected to each day. Being present throughout the day during our interactions with other people is essential. The important invitations we receive to help others don’t always get verbalized directly. Sometimes the words and conversation you don’t hear are more important than the small talk that we do hear. Sometimes the invitation walks quietly in front of us every day in the form of a sad looking co-worker or a family member who needs our attention but is afraid to ask.

Invitations that turn out to be great spiritual opportunities are usually hard to hear at first. The devil will do his best to convince us we don’t have enough time, talent or energy to accept this invitation and that may be the first sign we are on the right path. The easiest thing to do is to ignore a challenging invitation but it’s important to keep an open mind. After taking time to think and pray about it, we may eventually be inspired with a response or a solution.

Being open to the Holy Spirit when considering an invitation may be the best advice. If we have a sense of love, joy and peace when prayerfully considering a decision, the Holy Spirit may be telling us we are on the right track. Continued feelings of confusion, doubt and anxiety may be an indication we are headed in the wrong direction.

So let’s circle back to the 2 memories we talked about in the beginning:

1.   An invitation you received that you are glad you accepted.

2.   An invitation you accepted but wish you had never received. 

If we look at both memories through a pair of spiritual glasses, are there any lessons learned? Were there positive signs the good invitation would turn out well? Where there warning signs the bad invitation was leading us down the wrong path?

I know I have a long list of invitations I wish I never accepted. Fortunately God loves us so much that He gives us free will, a lifetime to learn from our mistakes and the healing power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

  • As it turns out I have an invitation of my own to pass along today. Archbishop Jackels has initiated the application process for another deacon formation class. Informational meetings will be hosted throughout the Archdiocese and will be advertised in the Witness and through parish bulletin announcements.
  • Deacon Dave was a pioneer in this area. He was in the first class of permanent deacons to be ordained in 1978. I was ordained in 2013 and we have about 90 deacons currently active in the archdiocese. Deacons come from all walks of life and serve in a variety of ways but there is a growing need for more. The training Christy and I went through was an incredible blessing for our marriage, our family and our faith life. The blessings have continued after ordination and if you ask other deacons and their wives I’m sure you will hear a similar story.
  • Please consider this an invitation to Catholic men between the ages of 32 and 58 to discern if this vocation is right for you. If you know someone who may be interested and is not here today, please pass this invitation along. I will be happy to answer questions and if you would like to fill out an application, please talk to Father Jim. Information sheets will be at the exits.
  • RSVP is a French abbreviation I can’t pronounce but the translation is this: please respond. God’s gift of faith and Salvation is free but it’s up to us to respond. God will send us many invitations in our lives and we need to be open to responding to them…willing to RSVP. As we listen for and discern the invitations that come to us each day, let us always be open to how God may be inviting us to grow closer to Him and be sure to RSVP.

Click here to listen to homily