September 8, 2019 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr Andy Upah

Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Reading 1 WIS 9:13-18B 

Responsorial Psalm PS 90:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14 AND 17

  1. (1)In every age, O Lord, you have been our refuge.

Reading 2 PHMN 9-10, 12-17

Alleluia PS 119:135

 Let your face shine upon your servant;
and teach me your laws. 

Gospel LK 14:25-33

Homily for Nativity on the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Year   

  The other night I was talking to some of my friends from Resurrection and someone in the group started a “game” of a sort, basically going around the room one by one asking really tough questions of each person.  One of the people is a journalist so she came by this game naturally.

  For my part, I hoped the game would end before it reached me… it didn’t. So my question came, “So, Fr. Andy… you were in the working world for awhile before seminary… you had a really good job and were making lots of money and I am sure you had lots of stuff, what is your take on having possessions now that you are a priest?”

  I answered honestly, and I’ll paraphrase my answer for you: it is difficult. I still like having possessions and I still struggle with wanting to get the latest and greatest of everything, but possessions holds us back. As ministers, possessions take away our freedom to go where we are called to go.  As lay people, possessions steal our time, time that we should be giving to God. 

  For instance, if we have a boat, and it is a beautiful weekend, we might be tempted to be out on the boat as much as possible, but we skip Mass in the process.  Furthermore, we have to get a slip for the boat, and then we worry about the boat all week.  Is anyone messing with it?  Is debris flowing downstream and getting stuck in the boat slip. 

  Possessions can take us away from our call to discipleship.  Possessions prevent us from doing what we should do, often what we need to do.  Possessions limit our freedom.

  That first reading says “For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns.”  Possessions often cause us anxiety in many different ways.

  In the Gospel, Jesus says, “anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple.”  Jesus did not mean this literally, that everyone in here should give up all of their possessions to be his disciples.  

  No, rather, we have to be willing to get rid of all of our possessions if we are called to do so.  We cannot be so attached to possessions that it prevents us from either worshiping God or following His will as a disciple...

  So think about it for a few seconds, what is your most dear possession?  Does it hold you back from worship?  Would you give it up for God? 

I think my most dear possession is probably my cell phone.  I always have it with me.  I use it for so many different things.  I use it to pray, to keep my calendar, to find information, to play music, all sorts of stuff.  If I had to give it up I’d be lost without it, like literally lost because I use it for all my maps and directions. 

But it steals time from me.  I’ll use it to pray, but then someone messages me or I get distracted by something else like fantasy football or facebook and I’ll waste a ton of time before I even know it.  And then I am just disappointed because I still haven’t finished my prayers and I am losing sleep.  My “corruptible body burdens [my] soul.”  

  Possessions, in and of themselves, are neutral, sometimes they can be used for good, sometimes they can be used for bad, but whenever they prevent us or others from growing in discipleship, they are bad.

  In that second reading, Paul’s letter to Philemon, Paul was asking Philemon to release his possession Onesimus from slavery for the sake of the kingdom.  Onesimus had run away from Philemon and had found Paul in prison. 

  Paul was a traveling preacher who was now in jail and was about to be killed, he had literally given up all of his possessions, and now he was asking Philemon to give up one of his prized possessions for the good of the kingdom, so that Onesimus could serve God.

  In the Gospel, Jesus was addressing the great crowds who were following him, letting them know this wasn’t going to be easy.  Discipleship is demanding, carrying our cross is not easy, just like constructing a great building or going to war, there will be sacrifices that will have to be made.

  But we do it out of love. We make sacrifices for those we love, don’t we? I am a later vocation, I gave up a great bachelor life making good money, to make much less money and work much harder than ever before.  

  But we do it out of love, love for Jesus, and love for His people, His disciples.  And it is totally worth it, I am happier than ever.  Sleep deprived yes, no question, but very joyful and I feel fulfilled and blessed.

  And I still love my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and my own life, but when I have to get something done for God or the people I serve, I have to put my family, and my own needs even, on the back burner.

  In what ways does God take the back burner in your life? ...  Is he asking you to give something or someone up to move Him to the front? ...  How is the Lord calling you today to grow in discipleship?

  Being a Catholic Christian is not easy.  It wasn’t easy at the time of Jesus, and it sure isn’t easy now.  But out of love for the one who first loved us, we can make the sacrifices necessary and carry our cross so that we can grow as disciples and help others to grow as disciples as well.

  Jesus helps us to carry our crosses, to overcome our earthly desires, and He strengthens us with His own body and blood in the Eucharist. I pray that despite the costs we would always seek to love Him above all else.

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