Hi everyone, here’s my homily for the 14thSUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – July 7, 2013. The readings for today can be found at here Thanks as always for reading, sharing, your feedback and comments. God Bless! Fr. Jim
It’s been about 8 years since one of my favorite television shows, EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND, went off the air, and even though I’ve seen every episode at least a few times, I still love watching the reruns. Probably because being a member of a very Italian-American family I’m able to relate to the story lines a great deal…. well more than even relate, sometimes I swear the writers have been spying on me, my friends and family and have lifted some of our entire conversations (what non-Italians would see as “people fighting/shouting at each other”)
One repeat I caught the other day was when Ray’s mother-in-law enlists his help in throwing a surprise party for his wife Debra. The long and short of it, the forever lazy and often foolish Ray ends up telling Debra about the forth-coming surprise, gets direction from her on how the party SHOULD be run (changing her mother’s planned theme from an English Tea Party to a Chinese dinner). As if that wasn’t bad enough, moments before Debra returns home with her friend Amy, who had kept her away all day, Ray blabs to the entire family that Debra already knows about the surprise, and in fact helped in the planning of the event. As she walks in and feigns surprise, the assembled guests are noticeably less enthusiastic about the party. The awkwardness is so uncomfortable, that even after repeated viewings (and knowing the whole show is fiction) I still feel the tension.
But Jesus doesn’t let their foolishly being surprised ruin the party. Indeed, he knows the depths of their hearts — and ours as well. How all of us — past and present disciples — we want to believe that following Jesus, that listening to His Call, His direction will result in amazing things occurring. That peace and healing will flow — that the evil one will be discharged from our midst. Yet for some reason we hesitate. We hear His call in our hearts and our souls and balk at many times, and in many ways. Maybe it’s at a moment when we’re among family or friends and some emotionally charged topic comes up — like saying that we believe that marriage was designed by God to be shared between one man and one woman for life and that anything that changes that (whether it’s divorce, cohabitation, or redefining it to include any two people) is not God’s plan, but humanity’s plan [considering the terrible effects of “no fault divorce” and wide acceptance of people simply “living together” have had on the institution of marriage and society itself, that should be enough reason for us to pause and ask ourselves — when has it ever worked out well for humanity to follow its own plan instead of God’s? but I digress] And yet in that, and many other “hot button” conversations — abortion, care of the poor, the sick — Christians back down from speaking anything remotely connected to their faith — we balk from listening to Jesus’ call, recognizing our role in proclaiming His Gospel in a loving way because of fear… Fear of not being liked. Fear of not being accepted. (While ignoring the fact that those challenging our beliefs seem not to have any such fear…)
Or people hesitate believing in Jesus’ call, His direction in other ways. The Lord calling a couple to be open to more children; The Lord calling a man or a woman into following Him as a Priest or a religious; The Lord calling a student into deeper relationship with Him that might result in a change of major/change of direction in terms of career, change in the “circle of friends” they’ve been hanging onto.
In whatever ways The Lord calls and challenges us to go forward, its a true reality that everyone of us experiences that pause, that hesitation, that fear that we can give into which can leave us stuck in inaction. That reveals a lack of trust or perhaps areas of “unbelief” that exists in our heart… to which we cry as a father once did begging for Jesus to do something for his sick son “Lord I do believe, Help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)