Homily: November 22, 2020
The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe
This week end our church celebrates the end of the liturgical year. It is a time to honor Christ as the King of the Universe. This feast was first created by Pope Pius the 11th in 1925. He designated the last week end in October for this celebration. But in 1969, Pope Paul the 6th moved the celebration of Christ the King to the 34th Sunday of the church calendar as a fitting way to conclude the year. While the role of King has not always been a positive image in history, deeming Christ as King has shifted the image of the leader from power hungry and cruel to loving and service orientated.
Clearly in Matthew's gospel today, we are called to be disciples who live the way Christ did. We are to love as Christ loved. We are to reach out to others the way Christ did. While it may sound like a tall order, it simply means that we are encouraged to open ourselves to serving others in whatever way we can.
The gospel is filled with suggested ways that we can reach out and minister to others. Give food to the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, visit the sick or those who are imprisoned.
As I was reading the bulletin for this week, I was impressed with the number of opportunities that are available to all of us reach out to others. There is the upcoming fifth Sunday Food Pantry Collection. Donating non-perishable items will keep the pantry shelves full and help feed those who are less fortunate. In the past we have had a giving tree in the back of church with cards that had suggestions on gifts for underprivileged. This year due to Coronavirus we will not have a tree; Instead we are asking people to donate gift cards which will be donated to local families in Cambridge and Deerfield who are struggling right now. The gift cards can be dropped off here at church where boxes will be available at the doors or in the office. Any cards purchased should be dropped off by December 13th. In the bulletin there is a list of suggested businesses that you might want to purchase gift cards from.
We also have in our parish a number of groups who have several types of services which help those who are sick or in need. The Council of Catholic Women, The Knights of Columbus and Cart ministries are all working to make life easier for people who are struggling. We can also reach out with a phone call or an email or even a Christmas card to help boost people's spirits.
The invitation to minister like Christ is all around us all we have to do is say yes and reach out.
"And the King will say to those on his right, Come you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. Then the righteous will answer him and say Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink, when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison and visit you? and the King will say,
"Amen I say to you whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did it for me."
Homily: November 15, 2020
The Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
I want to start this homily by talking about beavers. Yeah, I said beavers. They are fascinating animals. They have created ponds and lakes because they love to swim and they put their homes in water so they can be protected from predators. To build these homes, they gnaw down trees and make dams. Now of course these cute little furry engineers do not give any thought to the animals and humans who live downstream and rely on the water that is backed up because of their dam. Beavers are great at making new ecosystems but they are not thinking about others who may be affected by their construction.
People can be a lot like beavers. They may be given all the necessary skills and tools for engineering but they do not give thought to the effect that their creation might have on others. In our gospel today, those servants were given their Master's money to invest while he is away. The amount they are given is reflective of their abilities. Two of the servants double their master's money; the third, out of fear, buries his amount. He had an opportunity to increase the gift but he let his fear dictate his response and he failed.
The point that Jesus is making with this parable is that we are all given gifts and talents from God to be multiplied and used for the betterment of our world.
This parable brought to mind the story of the great African American teacher, reformer, and writer, Booker T. Washington. Booker T. at the age of 16 walked 500 miles from his slave home to the Hampton University in Virginia. Because classes were full, Booker was denied admission. Did he go home or give up? NO! He took a job at the school sweeping floors, making beds, and doing other manual labor. He did these jobs so well that he got the attention of the faculty and they made room for him in the classes. He worked his way through school and became an outstanding teacher who later went on to found the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. I am sure he had misgivings at various times, but he never gave in to his fears, he trusted his strengths and kept investing himself in his dreams until they became realities. Booker T. Washington is a perfect example of what Jesus is talking about in the parable. "You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over more."
In other words, do little things well and bigger better opportunities will present themselves.
These are small jobs that are going to impact quite a few people. Just stop and think about all the people in our parish who are doing small things well and making a difference. Think of the people like Pat and Jane and Phil and Sue Adas who are sanitizing our worship space before and after every mass or the people who give their time teaching religious education classes to both children and adults, the list of people who lector, commentate, distribute communion, serve mass like Eleanor and Colin and play the keyboards like Joan or record the mass like Chris. All of these people are making contributions to make our liturgies more inspiring. The list goes on and on. The point is that we all have strengths and gifts that have been given to us by our Master and it is our call to those gifts and invest them in our families, our faith communities, and our world. To everyone who is making the special effort to do something, however humble, to help others know, love, and serve God, Jesus says to you, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of you Master." This is not a time to be a beaver, build not for yourself but for the world you live in.