Fr. Rick’s Homily: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

August 27, 2023

Is 22:19-23; Ps 138:1-3, 6, 8; Rom 11:33-36; Mt 16:13-20

Special Collection today after Communion for Hawaii disaster relief.  You can also bring the money into the office or bring it next week.  We will get it sent to Catholic Charities Hawaii.  The money will be used to respond to the many people who will be going to Catholic parishes for all kinds of assistance.

OK. Let’s see here; we’ve got to start somewhere.

‘Whatever you bind on earth is bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth is loosed in heaven.’  This is one of the places where Jesus is conferring onto the Church the authority of God.   Do we actually believe that?  Does the Church really have the authority to teach?  A lot depends on whether we believe that or not.

Let’s take a look at the flow of the gospels for the last few weeks:

8/6 Feeding the 5000 on the Mondy after (the Transfiguration)

8/13 Walking on Water: Jesus could walk on water; Peter could walk on water.  ‘Even the wind and waves obey Him.’

8/20 Canaanite Woman and daughter, faith.  The woman’s faith in conjunction with the power and authority of Jesus made the miracle happen.  Not just magic.

In all these cases Jesus is demonstrating His power and authority and His ability to confer that onto us mere humans.  Jesus is not merely showing off or promising to just fix everything for us.  He is calling us into a full participation with Him to save the world!!

If we jump ahead to Mt. 28:18 Jesus says He has received ‘all the power and authority of Heaven’ and then He confers it on to the apostles, that is the Church, that is, all disciples.  We are to go forth and teach all nations and do so, so effectively, that they will want to be baptized.

There is just no way this can be a simple homily.  There is so much at stake here.  The very mission of the Church and the world we are sent to save depends on who has the authority to teach.  Truth is a challenge in every age in every culture, but we seem to be at a particularly critical point in American history. 

Remember, the gospels are not just about Jesus; they are about the Church and about all disciples.  That’d be us.  We are called and sent to teach THE WORLD.   This is not MY idea, folks.  If it had been up to me, I’d say, “The Mass is ended, let’s get pizza!!”

Let’s look at a couple areas where most American Catholics don’t believe that the Church has the authority to teach.

We have been hearing especially during this period of Eucharistic Revival that 70% percent of baptized Catholics do not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  This, of course, is central to our faith.

We also know that most American Catholics, along with most Americans, adamantly reject much of what the Church teaches on most issues relating to sexuality.  Abortion, artificial contraception, divorce, premarital conjugal relationships, same sex marriage, and on and on.  Around 90% of Catholics disagree with what the Church teaches in these areas.

These issues point to the need for a deeper development of our interior lives, which is what we should have been doing during more of during the 20th and 21st century.  The western world has been particularly deluged with all things physical, material and sensate and pretty much amidst constant noise.

It’s not easy to hear the whisper of God that Elijah spoke of a couple weeks ago in the first reading.  The type of space we need to hear God’s voice and each other’s deeper voices and our own deeper voices is not easy to come by.  We must deliberately cultivate this space and level of quiet.  This is the space of intimacy which keeps us connected on a Godly level.  Without it, we tend to follow the loudest, even most obnoxious voices.  It becomes impossible to sort out something called TRUTH.  We will be hearing a lot about truth as we enter into yet another campaign and election cycle.  Arrhhh!!

One of the big areas of emphasis will be issues of so called ‘reproductive health.’  We can’t let ‘reproductive health’ replace our sense of real intimacy.  Intimacy is ultimately about honesty.  Honesty requires truth and a consensus on who has the authority to teach about such things.

The Eucharist and Matrimony are both about becoming one on the deepest level.  The Eucharistic Prayer today will remind us that we who are nourished by the Body of Blood of Jesus Christ, and filled with his Holy Spirit may BECOME one Body, one Spirit in Christ.  Right here in Mass.  Of course, Matrimony is about becoming one flesh which is never apart from our souls, our spirits.  The end point of life in heaven is about all of us joining at the heavenly WEDDING banquet where we will all have reached this transcended state of union with God and each other.  Perfect honesty. Perfect Truth.

It’s imperative that we get these things right.  Literally EVERYTHING depends on it.  Pro-life October is coming up where we will be exploring the deeper dimensions of what is really causing our culture of death, of which abortion is one of the symptoms, not the cause.  And of course, we are in the midst of the 3-year Eucharistic Revival to help us enter into this deeper state of oneness which is far deeper than the mere physical.

The Intermountain Catholic newspaper recently reported Pope Franicis’ exhortation to the youths at World Youth Day to “not be afraid to change the world.”  I hope they are up to it and I hope they get some help from their parents and grandparents because I think things might get a little complicated in the world we are passing on to them.

Today’s bulletin offers a website for an online retreat specifically aimed at healing from artificial contraception which will likely be very insightful for most of us.  Please schedule it in somewhere.  And consider joining us for the second session of our discussions on This is My Body happening in the social hall at 6:30 PM

Homily Reflection Questions –

From last week: What most inhibits your ability to receive and reflect God’s love?  Sin, ignorance, fear, emotional or spiritual wounds, unresolved grief, other?

Updated to this week:  What most inhibits your ability to hear and accept the teaching authority of the Church? See above.

Which teachings of the Church do you resist or reject?  What is your belief in this area?  Who has taught you or influenced your belief?

What might be the connection between the widespread rejection of the teachings on the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist and the rejection of teachings on artificial contraception?