Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Fr. Pete Iorio
August 3, 2019 – 5:00 PM
There’s a story about a man who visited a church one day and said he wanted to join the parish. ‘But’, he said to the pastor, ‘I don’t want to be expected to go to church EVERY Sunday;’ and I don’t want to be pestered about money all the time. And don’t expect me to study the Bible’, he said, ‘or be a lector or an usher, or visit the sick, or help out with faith formation classes.’
The pastor commended him for his desire to be a member of their parish. But he told the man the church he really wanted was located across town. The man took down the directions and plugged in the address in the GPS.
When he arrived at the address the pastor gave him, he came face to face with the logical consequence of his own attitude. There stood an abandoned church and several other buildings, all boarded up and ready for demolition.
Nobody really expects a parish to survive without the involvement and support of all its members. Dedication and sacrifices of all the people of Our Lady of Fatima parish will ensure that we continue to not only survive but to thrive.
A timeless problem is presented in the Gospel today and that is inheritance. I still remember years ago at a family wedding when I heard someone exclaim, “There is so and so. She is a thief. She stole our father’s inheritance.” In the Gospel today, someone calls out to Jesus, “Teacher, tell my brother to share the inheritance with me.” How many of you have been involved with fights which destroyed family relationships because of money or the leftover possessions of a loved one who has died? All too often, I have known about real divisions in families because of inheritance at the time I celebrate funerals. This voice in the crowd calling to Jesus could certainly be any one of us.
Jesus has a wonderful way of not getting caught in the fight but drawing our attention to more important matters – that which lies within our hearts. He replied to him, “Friend, who appointed me as your judge and arbitrator?” In other words, leave me out of the fight you have with your brother.
Then he said to the crowd,
“Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” Do not allow yourselves to be attached to money and possessions. Empty yourself of greed, this human desire for more. These things may bring about passing pleasure; however, it will not last because you will always want more.
“Man finds himself only by making himself a sincere gift to others” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 24). Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World. Pope John Paul II expanded this statement by beginning to develop the Law of the Gift which says: The more you give away what you love, the more your being is enhanced.
The divine life increases in you in the measure that you give it away. The foundation for this law is that God Himself exists in gift form. God is the one who gives. His whole being is for giving in love. The Holy Trinity is an outpouring of constant love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Creation is this great overflowing of divine love. God’s whole manner of being is Giving. So, pay attention to what God gives you as grace, His abundant gifts. As you receive this divine life as a gift, so you must give it away.
When you grasp at the divine life and try to seize it for yourself, you will automatically lose it. Time and again in the Bible we can see this pattern. It begins with Adam and Eve.
Each person here should be able to be grateful for something God has given them. The question today is: are you willing to give away in love that which you have received? This attitude of giving and not greedily clinging to it or grasping for more assures that you will have holy joy. When all members of a family or a parish or a community share this attitude and practice, the Kingdom of God can be felt in a beautiful way and attract others to it. In contrast to what the man wanted in the story I told at the beginning of this homily, experience what we have here at Our Lady of Fatima. I thank you wholeheartedly for welcoming me into this wonderful parish. May we continue to grow together in love by our giving ourselves as gifts to one another.