Fr. Rick’s Homily – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Is 53:10-11; Ps. 33:4-5,18-22; Heb 4:14-16; Mk 10:42-45

October 17, 2021

Today’s Responsorial Psalm says, “Lord let your mercy be on us as we place our trust in you.”

Interesting phrase.  Lord let your mercy be on us ………. as we put our trust in you.  This connection between mercy and trust is important.  Most often it’s when we feel especially helpless and hopeless, most in need of mercy, that our sense of trust in God is truly tested.  If we don’t trust God, then who is it we trust? 

In a culture and indeed in a whole species which seems increasingly divided, this psalm reminds us about the true solutions to all our divisions, conflict and confusion throughout our Church, families, nation and the whole world. 

Let’s look a little closer at the psalm:

Upright is the word of the LORD,

    and all his works are trustworthy.

He loves justice and right;

    of the kindness of the LORD the earth is full.  (It is?)

See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him, (are awed by Him)

    upon those who hope for his kindness,

To deliver them from death

    and preserve them in spite of famine.  (Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Haiti)

Our soul waits for the LORD,

    who is our help and our shield.  (WAITS?  For how long?  Is this going to take a loooooong time?  Why should it?  God can do anything and really fast if He wants to.  Plus I’m really busy.  Why wait? 

Here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about prayer:

–paragraphs 2562-63 –  ‘…in naming the source of prayer, Scripture speaks sometimes of the soul or the spirit, but most often of the heart (more than a thousand times). According to Scripture, it is the heart that prays. If our heart is far from God, the words of prayer are in vain.  The heart is the dwelling-place where I am, where I live; according to the Semitic or Biblical expression, the heart is the place “to which I withdraw.” The heart is our hidden center, beyond the grasp of our reason and of others; only the Spirit of God can fathom the human heart and know it fully. The heart is the place of decision, deeper than our psychic drives. It is the place of truth, where we choose life or death. It is the place of encounter, because as image of God we live in relation: it is the place of covenant.’

This type of prayerful presence while waiting just takes time.  In this level of prayer we’re in a state of awe (fear).  It requires a different kind of space.  I think that’s a big reason so many people are drawn to a visit in southern Utah and northern Arizona.  The landscape is so radically different than where most people live.  One’s mind almost needs to reconfigure itself to contemplate the sheer magnitude of these large canyons and unique rock formations.  Your brain must be saying, ‘what is it’?  It’s a whole different kind of space.  AWEsome space.  A space that is really conducive to the realm of the soul or the ‘biblical heart.’  Again, this is all part of WAITING on the Lord; giving the Lord a special type of time and space.

(The psalm ends…) May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us who have put our hope in you.

But can we really trust God?  Can we really place ourselves at His mercy?  Have we really placed our HOPE in the Lord?  Think about this:  This psalm is placed right in the middle of today’s readings…at Sunday Mass (the Eucharist) which Jesus Himself has instituted… and which is the ‘source and summit’ of our whole religious Tradition….the Church…again, founded by Jesus Christ.  At Pentecost God sent the Holy Spirit to guide the Church and the teaching magisterium throughout the rest of earthly history so we will know the Truth.  Jesus promised the first Pope, Peter, that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.  So far so good?  Do we really believe this so far?

Remember a couple weeks ago in the Sunday liturgy we read from Mark 8:27 and Peter was insisting that the Lord could not be crucified, but should be spared such a thing.  And Jesus responds, “Get behind me Satan!! You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”  This is Peter remember, who has been following Jesus around personally for quite some time now and he is giving the Lord advice.  (Do we ever do that?)  Jesus nails the problem right there.  Satan.

We also might recall this verse from chapter 55 in Isaiah (55:8-9) “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways … For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”  We’re talkin’ NOT EVEN CLOSE!

Consider the Church teaching and guidance on some of the more contentious issues.  Do you trust the Church on these teachings?  If not, who DO you trust?  I mean specifically.  How do we KNOW if we are really putting our trust in God?

Who do we trust?


Meat producers, Tyson, Cargil



Anyone fly in to Las Vegas to get here?  Do you trust that the ground crew got sufficient sleep the night before…… in Vegas!?

Labor Unions

Channel 4; It’s news for you




Pope, Bishops?  Do you trust your pastor?


The President – who is really advising the president…ANY president? … (Their staffs, advisors and cabinets are sometimes like a ‘revolving door’.  Who ARE these people?)

If you were Arizona State’s quarterback would you trust your offensive line?  I digress a little here, but last night Jayden Daniels got sacked three plays in a row!!  The last three plays of the game!!  He must be thinking, “This is a big school.  Aren’t you linemen on scholarships!! At least for THIS year.  Anyway.

Do you trust the Democrats

Or the Republicans? 

Your Financial Advisor at Fidelity, Well Fargo, Scwaab

The market (your mutual fund is probably pulling down about 14% right now.  What’s not to trust, right?)

Your spouse

Your siblings and children

Your Friends?  Where do your closest friends’ opinions come from?

Do you trust Margaret Sanger?  Do you know who she is?  Do you know where her ideas came from?  She was the main driving force behind the normalized use of the pill; really easy artificial contraception.  She had a special concern about the plight of poor people, especially poor women who had such difficulty taking care of all their children.  Right now, 55 years after Margaret’s death, the single largest group of poor people in our country is children…most of whom live with a single parent, usually the mother….the second largest group of poor people.  It seems pharmaceuticals wasn’t the answer.  Perhaps a closer look at the real meaning of chastity would have been better.  Interestingly, Margaret was also an early advocate of eugenics; selective sterilization of certain people.  Gulp.  Planned Parenthood has fairly recently taken down her statue.  Too politically incorrect in today’s climate….

Do you trust the police?


Your Norton internet protection

Who do we trust?  Who do we really believe?

“…do you believe in rock ‘n’ roll….?

Can music save your mortal soul,

And can you teach (anyone) how to dance real slow?

Did you write the book of love

And do you have faith in God above

If the Bible tells you so?

You laugh….  Look at what was happening along with dear Margaret….

We had the explosion in pop culture, consumer culture, the sexual revolution.  Perpetual indebtedness culture.  Most of you recognized the song I recited.  You probably could sing along with most of it as well as a lot of other songs from the past few decades.  These are seared into our memories and maybe deeper than we know.  Quite possibly our whole understanding of love came from some of our favorite ‘love songs’.  Who really wrote the book of love?  Probably whoever wrote and sang your favorite love songs.  Which songs can you sing by heart?  Which psalms can you sing by heart?  ‘Who wrote the book of love’ is indeed a very profound question.  On certain TV channels you can still see a lot of the sit coms and variety shows from the 60’s and 70’s.  You can see how they were pushing the envelope in their more base and crude depictions of sexuality.  Nothing sacred about it.  One show would try to outdo the others.  Remember even the Smothers Brothers, Laugh IN,…  How much of our misplaced ‘trust’ and acceptance is now part of our contemporary moral culture?

Back to some more contentious issues in the Church:

What do you really believe about abortion, artificial contraception, immigration reform in the U.S., death penalty, getting a vaccine against Covid, adultery, sharing in proportion to what God has given us in all things, climate change?  Add some more.  If we don’t trust the guidance and teachings of the Church, which are written out and carefully footnoted to 4000 years of biblical tradition, who do we trust?  Specifically.  It’s important to be specific.

However, after extolling the Church’s teaching, we also have to acknowledge that the credibility of Catholic Bishops is not very high.  And they know it.  It was recently announced that there will soon be yet another world wide synod of Bishops to hear from the people.  The Intermountain Catholic newspaper explains: “Beginning this month the Church is launching an effort in its parishes, ministries, schools, community and social institutions and outreach efforts to hear how the People of God perceive where the Church is today and where it should be headed in the future.  The theme of this process is: ‘For a Synodal Church:  Communion, Participation, and Mission.’”  Didn’t we just have a world-wide synod on the family and then another on ‘youth’, complete with weeks of listening sessions to hear what the people think and want to know?  The people didn’t think that marriage preparation was very good, the teachings on sexuality were done very lightly if at all and the youth wanted to feel more included.  Everyone is especially concerned with the droves of young people leaving the Church.  It will be interesting to find out what more the people have to say or want to know.

The laity are also concerned that the Bishops are not adequately in touch with the true needs of the people.  Precisely the problem that Jesus is addressing in the gospel today.  Are the bishops and priests serving or ‘lording over’?  Are we too distant to be trusted?  Even after Pope Francis encouraged priests to get out of the rectory and mingle with the people; to ‘smell like the sheep,’ apparently we’re all too distant and not in touch.  In considering the long list of acronyms I mentioned above, any hesitation we might have to trust them is because many of our supervising institutions are so big, bureaucratic and administrative, we don’t know any of the people who are making big decisions.  We need more community and person-to-person contact.  We also need to pay more attention to our daily decisions and our responsibilities to each other.

So, please consider the list of contentious issues mentioned above.  Study what the Church actually teaches.  Compare that with who you really trust as a source of authority.  Be as specific as possible.  Does the source of your trust bring about unity among the very diverse peoples whom God created and loves equally?  This is your homework for the week.  God bless you and guide you!!