Pastoral Sharings: "Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time"

WeeklyMessageHomily from Father James Gilhooley
33 Ordinary Time    
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

In 1981, a man left $57,000 in his will to Jesus. It was for His own use when He returned at the Second Coming. The money was to be invested at the highest interest in the meantime. Does anyone really think that Jesus will be shopping at a posh department store for a new seamless robe and sandals upon His return?
Does anyone feel money is what He shall require from us at the Parousia? Is this what the Nazarene is all about? Christ is more interested in the way we conduct our lives this moment rather than tomorrow. He is more eager to see us improve life for others today than He is to remove us from it.

Andrew Greeley has some wise thoughts on this point. The Second Coming, the New Age, the New Epoch, he says, can and should be happening throughout this day and week. I saw the Second Coming at a Soup Kitchen where I worked. A white woman volunteer gave a black man soup, pasta, and coffee. As he was leaving, he thanked her.

Then she noticed the bad condition of his shoes. She told him to wait. From the clothing closet, she brought several pair. The woman got down on her knees and fitted each pair. Finally, she found his fit. In this forty minute encounter, Jesus in His Second Coming was present.

I was watching Him washing His apostles’ feet all over again. I witnessed the New Age today at a fast-food restaurant. A busload of children treated their waitress with kindness. “Please” and “thank you” were more plentiful than hamburgers and cokes. They cleaned their table. They left a generous tip and a happy waitress. There was no doubt but that the Lord was present.    

I see the New Epoch every time one of you gives me $100 and asks me to give it to a family having a difficult time. If one looks sharp enough, you can see a smile on Christ’s face. I observed the New Order yesterday. I was lost and could not find the correct road. I asked directions of a young man. Though he was in as much a hurry as I, he U-turned and told me to follow him for several miles. Then he put my car on the correct road. Can you not hear Jesus applaud as I tell you this story?

I heard of the Second Coming yesterday. A mother told me of her return from a long journey. On her kitchen table, she found a dozen carnations waiting to greet her. The benefactor was her teen son. That day she saw Christ in her boy.
I saw the New Epoch last week. A priest had heard that hostiles in a parish were gleefully giving another priest, whom he hardly knew, a hard time. He phoned. “May I buy you a good lunch?” The trip cost him not only the restaurant bill but also a round trip of 140 miles, and over half a tank of gas. Was not the Nazarene riding with him that day? You, I am sure, can fill in the blanks and tell me of the times when you saw the Second Coming this past week. And hopefully you were the cause of it.

If negative, just as hopefully you will bring it about tomorrow. We ask Jesus, “How do we prepare for dying?” He responds, “By living.” As Greeley says, the answer to the “when?” of the Second Coming can be readily given.

The Lord is present anywhere people treat each other with gentleness, generosity, and thoughtfulness. A man helped Mother Teresa in Calcutta. He was swept off his feet as he watched the small giant wash sick bodies. He said to her, “I want to remain here permanently with you.” The woman, whose wrinkled face showed thousands of miles of wear, said with a smile, “No, no.

It is but an illusion. Go home and bloom where you are planted. The message that each one of us is a member of God’s family is as much needed where you came from as it is here. We must do small things with great love.”

This last line so moved US President George W Bush that he quoted it in his brief inaugural address in Washington, DC in 2001. This week why not see how many times you yourself can bring Jesus back to earth? Here’s a proverb to motivate you. “I sought my God; my God I could not see. I sought my soul; my soul eluded me. I sought my neighbor, and I found all three.” Become God’s miracle for somebody today.

Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
November 15, 2015

Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time:

The Wise Shall Shine Brightly

A little over two weeks ago, people went around trying their best to frighten other people. They were having fun. Horror movies are still popular.  People go to them to scream.  They are having fun. Why?  Perhaps part of  the fun that people have on Halloween or at a horror movie is that they like getting scared. Perhaps part of it is knowing that this is all make believe.   

Today’s readings are scary.  The trouble is, they are not make believe.


Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Mark 13: 24–32

Gospel Summary

Jesus promises his disciples that they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. The angels will gather his elect from the four winds. His coming in glory will be preceded by tribulation. The sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in heaven will be shaken. These will be signs just as fig leaves sprouting are a sign that summer is near. Jesus adds that their generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Though heaven and earth will pass away, his words will not pass away. Then Jesus says: “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”


Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time—November 15, 2015

Today, Jesus describes a cataclysmic future event in a very old way.  Why?

Gospel (Read Mk 13:24-32)

To understand today’s reading, we must set it within its context in St. Mark’s Gospel.  In Mk 13:1-2, we see that as Jesus and His disciples left the Temple one day, one of His disciples said to Him, “Look Teacher, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings.”  All Jews revered the Jerusalem Temple.  It was the one place on earth where God and man could meet.  Thus, it was the focal point of their national identity as God’s chosen covenant people.  Surely the disciples expected Jesus to echo the sentiment about its great beauty and worth.  After all, on one of His visits to the Temple He had, Himself, cleansed it of desecration (see Jn 2:15).  Jesus must have surprised them with His response:  “Do you see these great buildings?  There will not be left here one stone upon another, that will not be thrown down.”  What did He mean?


Six Keys to fully Surrender to Christ

At the center of Mark’s Gospel, the Transfiguration of Christ (Mark 9:2-10) stands prominently as an encouragement along the walk from Baptism to Resurrection; a walk that must pass through the Cross.

Place yourself in the position of the Apostles—they have journeyed with Jesus since he began his public ministry and I am sure that they could not have been more astonished at what they had witnessed since the Lord’s baptism.

Jesus multiplied loaves and fishes, walked on water, calmed storms, healed the sick, cast out demons, and restored a girl from death to life.

He forgave sins of those he encountered. He taught with a compassion, wisdom and authority not previously seen. He turned the world upside down!

And during it all, he faithfully made time to be alone in prayer.

Who is Jesus?


Three Vows for Following Christ

Today’s post over at The Suburban Hermit explains how the three Benedictine vows are interwoven and interdependent like a three stranded rope.

The Benedictine monk or nun takes vows of Stability, Obedience and Conversion of Life. There is much that can be learned from the three vows not only for the life of the professed religious, but for the layperson who wishes to follow Christ more closely and fully. I’ll be writing in more detail about the vows on this blog, but a brief consideration here can get us started.


Parables Aren’t Just Stories, Many Are Riddles –

Here Are Two

To most of us, parables are stories told by Jesus to illustrate and clarify what He teaches. We have read the parables in the context of two thousand years of a tradition that interprets them in a certain way. But in their original context, parables are really more like riddles. The apostles noted that while Jesus would speak to the crowds in parables, when He retreated into the house with the apostles He would explain the meaning (cf Mat 13:36). Plain teaching is given “in the house,” in the Church, but among the crowds it’s parables.


Loving Jesus: The Ultimate Blessing

There is no doubt that Jesus loves each one of us with an everlasting love. The question is whether or not we love Jesus in return.  We might think or say that we do, but then, do our day-to-day lives reflect these words, or are we just paying Him lip service?  Are we lukewarm toward Him, at the same time that we are on-fire for our jobs, our entertainment, or our vices?

What is Love?


Humble and Reverent Love

Presence of God – O God, who art so great, deign to lift up my soul, so small and miserable, to Yourself.


The love which audaciously urges the soul on to the conquest of divine union is, at the same time, full of reverence and respect, for the soul understands, much better than before, how sublime and lofty is the majesty of God. If, on the one hand, love makes it impatient to be united to Him, on the other, the clear and continual consciousness of its misery renders it more eager than ever to keep strict watch over its conduct, so that nothing may be found in it which could displease such great majesty.


Five Ways To Improve Our Reception Of Holy Communion

The greatest and most sublime action that the human person can do while living is to receive Holy Communion, in the state of grace, in a most worthy manner. The angels in heaven experience a holy envy for us mortals on earth: we can receive Holy Communion, whereas they cannot!

A key concept in sacramental theology is that of Dispositive grace.  This means in simple jargon: you get what you are open to receiving.  The more fully open a door is the easier it is to get into the door without bumping into it and stubbing our toe.   So with the reception of God’s grace in the sacraments, especially in the reception of the greatest of all of the Sacraments, the most Holy Eucharist.


Why We Need the Sacraments

Four elements stand out in the traditional Catholic doctrine of what a sacrament is. Fundamentalism is suspicious of all four. A sacrament is “a sign that effects what it signifies, instituted by Christ to give grace.”

1. Sacraments are signs and symbols.

Fundamentalism is temperamentally wary of symbolism. It has a plain, “no-nonsense” mentality. Symbols are too poetic for its hardheaded mind to grasp, whether in Scripture or in sacrament.


The Our Father and the Hail Mary: The Two Pillars of

Catholic Prayer

Whole books with titles like A Treasury of Christian Prayer attest to the fact that the Church can dip into vast pools of prayer and come up with any number of prayers that it might set before us for our contemplation.


Pope: ‘The Family Teaches Us to Share, With Joy,

the Blessings of Life’

VATICAN CITY — For Pope Francis, the dinner table is a key place to strengthen family bonds and foster a sense of “togetherness,” which he said can often be thwarted by an excess attachment to technology.

“A family that almost never eats together, or that never speaks at the table, but looks at the television or the smartphone, is hardly a family,” the Pope said Nov. 11.

“When children at the table are attached to the computer or the phone and don’t listen to each other, this is not a family, this is a pensioner!”


5 Ways to Jump-Start Your Prayer Life

You know that niggling sense of need. You want to pray, but you’re stranded and doubtful. Maybe you think God doesn’t want to hear from you because you’ve kept your distance for a while.

Perhaps you practiced prayer once before, and you know that mature prayer is something more than simply petitioning God, but you’re not sure where to go with it.


What are Beauty and Peace? The Ancient Philosophers Had Simple, Objective Definitions

Every now and then we all run across a description or definition of something that captures its truth, yet at the same time respects its mystery. For indeed mere words can ever really be, or take the place of, the thing or person they describe. The reality is always richer than the descriptions we attempt with the grunts and scrawls we call “words.”

Such were my thoughts when I was rummaging through some old philosophy notes and came across two classic definitions that are moving in their simplicity, yet mysteriously accurate. Here they are:


Obedience? What Me?

In the present world the suggestion of obedience is met with incomprehension. That one should submit one’s entire will to another individual is not only a social error, but an anti-social horror. Obedience is a blasphemy in a world of individual freedom, and yet all the wise ones tell us it is only through obedience that innocence is recovered and retained.

Obedience can only be rediscovered through discipline and commitment. Therefore Benedict sets obedience as one of the three vows for his monks. In his chapter on receiving brethren he writes, “The one who is to be accepted into the community must promise in the presence of all; stability, conversion of life and obedience.”


Confess My Sins to a Priest? Why Can’t I Just Talk to God?

If you’re Catholic, you’ve heard this before, right? Your Protestant friend says, “Why should I confess my sins to a priest?” Chances are he’s going to offer one of two arguments:

◾I have a personal relationship with Jesus. I can talk to God directly.

◾Jesus is the only mediator between God and man.

Well, that’s easy! Your first counter-argument can be an explanation:  We’re simply doing what Jesus told us to do.

Catholics don’t just confess their sins to a priest. The priest is an “alter-Christus”; that is, he stands in for Christ. When a Catholic confesses his sins in the presence of a priest, it’s Christ he’s talking to through the priest, and Christ who is offering forgiveness.


Seven Ways Devotion to Saints makes a Difference

One good way of understanding my belief is to ask: What differences does it make? Devotion to saints makes at least seven important differences to Catholics. In each case, fundamentalists find Catholicism too mystical for their tastes.

First, saints make a difference to our prayer. We’re not alone when we pray. We’re surrounded by saints. If there was any one experience that brought me aboard the Barque of Peter, it was realizing that as I prayed I wasn’t alone, but was joined by Peter and Paul, Augustine and Aquinas and the whole company of angels and saints on that great Ark.


10 Things You Didn’t Know About Purgatory

As this month is dedicated to the Souls in Purgatory, it’s an opportunity for all of us to learn more about one of the most misunderstood of Church teachings. Far from being the much-maligned second-chance hell or hell-lite that critics make it out to be, purgatory actually well reflects the beauty of the Church’s teaching.

Here are 10 things about purgatory that may surprise you:


Ten Ways to Avoid Purgatory

Someone recently  asked me, “How do I avoid purgatory?” I had a few suggestions, but here are ten specific ways to avoid it:

1. In every prayer you say, every Mass you hear, every Communion you receive, every good work you perform, have the express intention of imploring God to grant you a holy and happy death and no Purgatory. Surely God will hear a prayer said with such confidence and perseverance.

2. Always wish to do God’s will. It is in every sense the best for you. When you do or seek anything that is not God’s will, you are sure to suffer. Say fervently, therefore, each time you recite the Our Father: “Thy will be done”

3 Steps to Divorce-Proofing Your Marriage

Maybe you’re hoping to strengthen your marriage; maybe you’ve been married for decades and feel secure; or maybe you are just starting out. Spouses’ feelings toward their marriage run the gamut and often see high and lows, but almost all couples can agree: they want a marriage that lasts “until death do us part,” where they grow in love for one another with each passing year.

But is that really possible anymore? Divorce rates continue to soar, and many of us have witnessed relationships we thought would last forever fall apart.


The Gift of Encouragement

“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

If you’ve experienced encouragement at the just the right time, you know the truth of the verse above. A word of encouragement is truly a grace, giving one strength to carry on. Sometimes a simple phrase is what will give somebody the courage to keep moving on. This spiritual gift, sometimes also called “exhortation,” is one that we have the opportunity to practice daily, and we may take for granted how powerful it can be.


Conversion Catalysts

Adam Lewis, 25, and Rachael Lewis, 22, grew up in a devout Christian home, never associating themselves with a specific denomination.

“The deposit of faith handed down to me by my parents molded my love for Jesus, prayer life and devotion to him in the word,” Adam explained.

Even so, in their young-adult lives, they both felt something was missing.


Facing the reality of death

I recently had a conversation with a coworker about mausoleums.  I hadn’t experienced a mausoleum until my grandfather died.  It wasn’t the first funeral of a grandparent I experienced, but it was the first time I stood inside a building to watch a burial.  And I’ll be honest—it was strange.  In fact, I had to leave and walk outside.


Help Me Understand Attacks of the Devil (Part II of II)

Editor’s Note:  In part I, we looked at the first strategy of the devil in the spiritual struggle: corrupting the heart.  Today, we will examine the second and third strategies: turning aside the will and getting us to give up.  Here is the question we are considering:

Dear Father John,  I seem to be constantly tempted to, or away from, one thing or another.  I would like to arm myself as much as possible against this spiritual darkness.  Would you help me understand attacks of the devil?


Pope Francis: Angelus Domini – November 15m 2015
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