Ramblings from us as we strive to live a holy life in the world, not of the world.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Deacon Joe's homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Priesthood, vision, Bill Maher, and completeness

The Pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the parish would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast next Sunday morning.

Even if you’re not on time, please still come to Church.  Our Ushers will be glad to help eat latecomers.

An Inter-faith song fest will be hell at the Methodist church Wednesday.

The Choir invites any member of the congregation who enjoys sinning to join the choir.

Ladies, don't forget the rummage sale. It is a good chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house.  Don’t forget your husbands.

It’s good to laugh at ourselves, it’s a big part of being human and embracing our imperfections.  Jesus was human, just like us.  Did Jesus have “bloopers”?  I don’t know, maybe he did, but regardless scholars are pretty sure Jesus told jokes and had fun with His disciples.  There are many portraits out there of the “Laughing Jesus”.  We really don’t think of Jesus very much in that way, we look more to the image of the cross, and that’s as it should be, but we need to remember that Jesus was like us IN ALL THINGS, but sin.  Jesus being like us in all things is important because he could identify with us and we can identify with Him.  This mutual identification allows Jesus to fulfill the role of High Priest, and it is through the role of High Priest that Jesus can deliver us from our sins.  Our ability to identify with Jesus also has impact on us today through the establishment of the priesthood in the Church.  Today, by the way, just happens to be Priesthood Sunday, and what a great opportunity to let our priests know how much we truly appreciate them. 

I sincerely hope you’re able to identify with our Priests.  Yes, they do live differently from the rest of us, but they are very much human and come from families very much like ours.  Our priests have made great sacrifices for us, just to get to ordination, and they continue to make great sacrifices for us to be able to bring us in contact with God through the sacraments.  As a Deacon, I feel so very blessed to be able to do God’s work closely alongside Fr. Kleppner, and Fr. Mariusz, and in fact, God has blessed me throughout my entire life by continually surrounding me with great men that were Priests, and I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our regional vicar Fr. Sam Esposito as someone I am truly indebted to.  A Deacon’s role, is to help bridge any gap between the Priesthood any the laity, by living the life of cleric, and yet living in the world (to clear up any confusion, I have a full-time job and do not get paid for what I do as a Deacon).

It is the Priesthood that is central to the passing on of the faith.  As clerics, we pass on the faith in the very same way St. Paul explains to the Church of Corinth, we pass on the faith that was handed on to us.  We do not alter the teaching of the Church.  Priests themselves do not take on followers and no one becomes a Kleppnerite or a Mariuszian, we remain members of the Church.  The clergy goes through great pains to continually educate and renew themselves to ensure that the faith that is passed on is that of Jesus Christ and the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.  And it is through that unchanging faith, that we are saved.

To have faith, we must also have vision.  We don’t necessarily need to see with our eyes, but we do need to have vision or a vision, in order to be able to journey with Our Lord.  In our Gospel today, we meet Bartimaeus.  St. Mark is not talking to us about just any blind man, he gives us Bartimaeus, someone with a name, someone WE CAN IDENTIFY WITH.  It’s important to note here, that we are nearing the end of the Church year, Advent is about 5 weeks away.  With the end of the Church year, we change our Gospel cycle.  This being Year B focused on St. Mark’s Gospel to Year C, which relies on the Gospel of St. Luke.  I mention this because the healing of Bartimaeus is that last healing Jesus performs in the Gospel of Mark as in Chapter 11 Jesus enters into Jerusalem to face His passion.  So this healing of the blind man Bartimaeus must have some significance. 

I digress for just a second here, to share with all of you that I am now wearing braces on my teeth.  I was an avid participant in all kinds of sports, mainly contact sports, in my childhood and young adult life.  Now that I am older, and not playing anything other than golf (which if you’ve seen me golf you could call it a contact sport), it was time for me to get braces to keep from losing my teeth as I age.  Anyway, one of the sports I enjoyed playing most was hockey.  And I remember at the start of every season, my teammates would get mad at me because I would have a very difficult time passing the puck.  It wasn’t that I couldn’t see where the other players were on the ice, it was that I lacked vision, the sense of the flow of the game and not only where the players were, but how the action on the ice was developing.

Our spirituality depends upon the same kind of vision.  We are Bartimaeus.  We cannot see.  We need Jesus to give us vision.  He always asks us “What do you want me to do for you?”  Jesus is always there for us, and we know we can trust Him because we can identify with Him.  Yet, we’re afraid to ask, or perhaps we don’t know what to ask for.  Do we really want to see?  The world does not want to see.  Case in point, here’s a quote just last week from talk show host/comedian Bill Maher, “The Pope is consistently pro-life. I’m consistently pro-death.  I’m for the death penalty, killing the right people.  I’m pro-choice. I’m for assisted suicide. I’m for regular suicide.  The planet is too crowded, and we need to promote death.”   As a Christian those quotes should horrify you.  What a sad vision of life.

Only with the help of God are we able to see and have real vision.  We need to see to have faith.  We need to see God’s (not our own) truth.  We need to see that only God can make us whole and complete us.  We need to see God in each other.  We need to see that we’re all in this together.  We need to see beyond this world and embrace the Church as the single greatest source of faith.  We need to see the person of Jesus in our Priests.  We need to see ourselves, to understand our sins and how those sins (even those we consider “private”) affect others.  We need to see the harm done by Abortion, Contraception, Pornography, Euthanasia, and all other sins that the current culture promotes.  We need to see that our vote has eternal consequences.  We need to see that God loves us and wants us to love Him and when we enter into that relationship, we will have the fullness of life and not just exist.  And finally, we need to see the real presence of God in the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

Jesus comes to heal us and open our eyes to see.  If we ask Him, he will give us His vision.  And then we’ll see things as they truly are.  It is through the beauty of that truth that we’ll experience heaven, and we can “go our way, because our faith has saved us.”