Sunday, July 17, 2011

16th Sunday - homily

"Whoever has ears ought to hear".

Do Catholics really hear at Mass? I think they hear one of two voices. Of course, there is only one voice coming through the mic at a time, either the priest or lector or whoever. But, I've gathered that Catholics hear one of two voices in their head during Mass. The first is from the old "Peanuts" cartoon. If you remember Charlie Brown's teacher who always sounded like this: "Wawawa Wawawa", you know, all gargled and unclear. It's now the voice that is synonymous with being tuned out. Some people are doing it right now as I speak. I'm talking and all they hear is, "Wawawa", and think to themselves, 'what do I have to do today?' or something....! The other voice is, "THE VOICE OF GOD"...! Some people hear God speaking to them loud and clear at's beautiful. I guess there's a third voice: no voice. The majority of Catholics -75%- don't come to Mass anymore so they don't hear God's voice at Mass.

So, if you just heard THE VOICE OF GOD, you heard God talking about Hell. Sweet, loving, and merciful Jesus was just talking about Hell...and in a scary way: "wailing and grinding of teeth" and "fiery furnace". I'm a priest and I'm scared...! This parable applies to all of us Catholics -bishops, priests, religious, and laypersons- because it is in the Church that the Lord has planted good seed. We are the good seed. We become the weeds if we lead others to sin or apostasy -as some translations say- (apostasy is renunciation of faith) or are evildoers. At the harvest (judgment), the weeds will be thrown into the fiery furnace. This means that if we lead others to serious sin or enter into mortal sin and don't repent before we die, we will go to Hell.

Have Catholics heard this teaching from the Lord? Do we know that Jesus speaks almost as much about Hell as Heaven? He does this because He doesn't want us to go there! He gives us His grace and its that grace that gets us to Heaven. We need to live and die in a state of grace if we want to remain good seed and shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father. This parable is about being faithful Catholics. Just before Holy Communion, you will hear me say, "let all faithful Catholics come receive our Lord". This really means Catholics who are in a state if grace. If we remain in a state of grace, we remain good seed.

Do Catholics hear the Gospel in general? Have we heard the teaching on Confession? Do we know that Confession keeps us out of Hell? Do Catholics know the teaching on the Eucharist, that it really is the Body and Blood of our Lord and that "this is my body" means this is my body? 70% say no, the Eucharist is just a symbol. Where did they hear that? It's nowhere in the Bible and never been taught by the Church.

If we know the Lord, then we will hear the Lord. The whole key is whether we know Christ or not. If we have a relationship with Him, then we will hear Him speaking to us in our minds or hearts as THE VOICE OF GOD. If not, it will be WAWAWA. I remember speaking to an older couple who's kids are now adult Catholics. Their kids go to Mass on Sundays and are active in their parishes, but seem not to have ears to hear. I asked the parents if the kids know Christ, and they paused which seemed to indicate that they don't. If we know Christ, then we will have ears to hear what we should hear.

Finally, the second reading (Romans 8) tells us the key in getting to know Christ: the Spirit. The Spirit teaches us how to pray. Pray to the Spirit and ask Him to introduce you (or reintroduce you) to Christ. Pray to the Spirit for those who are in serious sin or apostasy. Pray that they will come back. May each one of us turn to the Spirit and come to know Christ who is the center of our whole faith. May we have the ears to hear what the Lord is saying to us.


Christina said...

Welcome back, Padre! Whoever taught homiletics at the Mount when you were there ought to be congratulated. You and Father Jeff really do give solid homilies.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, Father Greg.

Romina C said...

Hi Fr Greg! I thought this post was particularly funny. I could just hear you saying THE VOICE OF GOD in a deep voice. It cracked me up.
Sometimes it's difficult to tune out the world outside during mass, but thankfully God sends the Spirit to make us listen/relate to the parts we need to hear the most.
See you at Mass :)