Yesterday at our 11:30 AM Mass, Fr. Siefert delivered a rather emotional homily. The point of the homily was that our Faith is not meant to be for an hour each Sunday while in the four walls of our church but must be professed each and every hour of each and every day of our lives. We cannot simply praise God at Mass and then head out into the world and live a life that is not in Christ. It was a good homily until he masterfully tied in a line from Seinfeld (Festivus – for the rest of us) – thus making it a truly profound and great homily.
It may not be easy but we must profess our love for God every day, every hour, every minute, every second of our lives. Regardless of where we are or what we do, nothing is more important than that. A former pastor of St. Mary Magdalen, and a very close friend of our family, loved to say to a young couple getting married that they will give the homily and if necessary, they will use words to do it. His point was that the best homily one can give to show others the joy and truth of the Gospel is to live their life according to Christ’s word. Actions speak louder than words. And those actions have to be carried outside of the four walls of your Church.
We are called to evangelize. We are called to be witnesses to the risen Christ to those who don’t yet believe. How can we be a witness if we don’t live our lives accordingly? Today’s readings are rather profound about this. Paul (and his entourage), by being an example of all that Christ taught, converted the Thessalonian’s from a life of idolatry to a life of Christianity. The first reading is the beginning of the his letter to them praising them for their conversion and supporting their new Christian lifestyle.
(side note: as I type this post, a thunderstorm is going on outside; I love the sound of rolling thunder.)
Our psalm today, from Psalm 149, implores us to…
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches;
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
(bold references because it stood out to me…in church and out of church!)
And then we have our Gospel. The message I take from Today’s Gospel is the same message that Fr. Siefert stressed to me yesterday. I have to live a life that is in God. I can’t profess to others the importance of them living by God’s standards if I’m not willing to do it myself. I must practice first what I preach or my words will be like a clanging cymbal.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites.
You traverse sea and land to make one convert,
and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna
twice as much as yourselves…
These are some strong words from our Savior. Take a few minutes to ponder the footnotes for the Gospel verses this morning…
* [23:13–36] This series of seven “woes,” directed against the scribes and Pharisees and addressed to them, is the heart of the speech. The phrase woe to occurs often in the prophetic and apocalyptic literature, expressing horror of a sin and punishment for those who commit it. Hypocrites: see note on Mt 6:2. The hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees consists in the difference between their speech and action (Mt 23:3) and in demonstrations of piety that have no other purpose than to enhance their reputation as religious persons (Mt 23:5).
The last statement in this footnote bears repeating…
The hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees consists in the difference between their speech and action (Mt 23:3) and in demonstrations of piety that have no other purpose than to enhance their reputation as religious persons (Mt 23:5).
Again, to Fr. Siefert’s point. Do we only live our faith for that brief period on Sunday morning or do we make our faith the very fabric of our lives? Are we windows thru which people see heaven or hell?
Do something great for our Lord today – live the life He wants you live. Live the life He needs you to live. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.
God’s will, not mine, be done.
Be not afraid; just have faith.
Jesus, I trust in You.
He must increase; I must decrease.