Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), October 28th, 2018:
Jeremiah 31:7-9; Psalm 126:-6; Hebrews 5:1-6; and Mark 10:46-52.
By Father Scott Karnik
We must hold onto our Catholic faith in Jesus Christ. Doing that enables Jesus to return us to our “rest,” in the Promised Land of grace and salvation where our souls reside. In today’s first reading, God the Father, announces through His prophet Jeremiah, that the Jews will return from Exile. Even those for whom travel is difficult, even they must return. This is such good news that the exiles will be overjoyed. They will return with tears of contrition. God promises the Exiles that the painful labor of sowing will be crowned with life by the Lord, who has returned them to the Promised Land, to the Temple, and God’s Presence. These days of return will be happy.
In today’s gospel, a blind man named Bartimeus is begging. Bartimeus is destitute and insignificant. Bartimeus is a sinner, a nobody. But Bartimeus acts when he hears Jesus is coming. He calls to Jesus persistently. His persistence wins. Bartimeus attracts Jesus’s attention and confidently approaches Jesus’s “throne of grace.” Jesus answers his faith-filled request. He cures Bartimeus’s blindness. Bartimeus’s faith in Jesus has saved him. But there is more. St. Mark also writes that Bartimeus “followed him (Jesus) on the way.” That phrase designates discipleship in the early Church. So the readings today illustrate the prophesied return of Israel and Judah to their promised land, to their beloved city of Jerusalem, and to the Temple where God will return. It is also the illustration of a man’s soul, seeking Jesus, meeting Jesus, asking Jesus for a miracle, and Jesus gives him two. One is the cure of his blindness, and the second, the formation of a disciple, who follows Jesus “on the way.” Jesus gives James, John, and us, the model of the Suffering Servant that He and we must become. Then St. Mark ends this chapter with this story , to encourage his Christian readers in their own situations, on their own way (of the Cross). “Take courage, get up, Jesus is calling you.”
Homily for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), October 21st, 2018:
What religion would you die for? What religion would you live for? Today’s readings answer those questions. They also identify the chalice and the baptism which we must drink, the chalice and baptism James and John participated in.
The reading from Isaiah explains the theme of vicarious atonement. The prophecy is of a “Suffering Servant.” God’s Suffering Servant will assume the punishment due to us for our sins. This Suffering Servant will do this in our name. The Suffering Servant will be regarded as guilty and he will be associated with the wicked, even though he was completely innocent. His suffering will be for a positive purpose-salvation. Christians see clearly Jesus Christ in this model of the Suffering Servant. God Himself speaks in Isaiah’s prophecy. God affirms this prophecy and the spiritual reality that the Suffering Servant achieves in his vicarious atonement. This vicarious atonement, this undeserved suffering, is the Chalice that Jesus must drink from, faithfully. Jesus’s vicarious atonement is meant to attract attention from others, Jews and Gentiles. In our time, this model of the Suffering Servant makes a positive sense of suffering, particularly unmerited suffering. It shows us how to evangelize our faith by bearing burdens and setting an example.
In the reading from Hebrews, this Suffering Servant is also a “great high priest.” The author identifies this great high priest as Jesus Christ. The author encourages us to approach Jesus on His throne of grace because this Suffering Servant and Great High Priest is merciful. He is merciful because He is human, as well as divine. Jesus Christ’s mercy is rooted in His sharing of our human nature. He was tempted in every way but did not sin. Jesus Christ, the Great High Priest has successfully entered into God’s presence. We sinful human beings can have hope and confidence in Jesus. So if we can hope in Jesus, we can and ought to proceed to Jesus’s throne of grace, to worship God and His Only Son, Jesus Christ. The author of this reading from Hebrews assures us that we shall find mercy and obtain grace in the form of help suited to each time and circumstance in our lives. In fact, God sends us His Holy Spirit. This is the third person in the Blessed Trinity. The Holy Spirit is a divine being who encourages and helps us reach up to our higher nature, the nature of holiness. The religion which has such a Great High Priest, who has a fully human nature along with His divine nature, in such a sanctuary, who is the very Son of God Himself is the very religion to which we must hold on to. Here’s the kicker: We must drink from the same chalice that Jesus has drunk from, and James and John. We must be immersed in the same baptism of suffering Jesus was immersed into. Suffering and sorrow will overwhelm Jesus. And for us too, our suffering will be unmerited and innocent. The example we must give is to serve the needs of all. The example we give is meant to attract others to us, to our religion, to our carrying out of our faith in Jesus Christ.
The words of St. Teresa of Calcutta identify the chalice we must drink from and the baptism we must be immersed in. “People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”
Homily for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Wisdom 7:7-11; Psalm90:12-17; Hebrews 4:12-13; Mark 10:17-30
By Fr. Scott Karnik
We are all human. We are all mortal. We were born. We live. We are sinners. And we will die. Solomon realized this about himself. He has no advantage to his birth. Solomon will live and die, just like his subjects will, poor and rich alike. So Solomon does something about it. Solomon prays to God for the gift of wisdom. God grants Solomon’s request. Here is what Solomon does next. Solomon treasures wisdom above all else. Solomon preferred wisdom to scepter and throne; devalued riches in comparison with wisdom; elevated wisdom above jewels, gold, and silver; loved wisdom more than health, and preferred wisdom to light. Solomon did what the rich, young man in today’s gospel could not do: Solomon abandons earthly desires and possessions for wisdom. So what is wisdom? It is another expression for God Himself. When Solomon realizes that he is a mortal, just like his subjects, he abandons himself completely to God and His way of life for himself. The author of the psalm asks God to teach men to know themselves before God. May man’s knowledge of the brevity of his life lead him to spend his life wisely. Knowing who we are before God will change us for the better. God is wisdom.
We get to that point by presenting ourselves with uplifted hearts to God and His life-giving word. We lift up our hearts to God’s word. God’s word is authoritative. In fact, in the second reading from Hebrews, God’s word is so alive and authoritative that it is interchangeable with God Himself, who speaks it. God takes the place of His Word. God’s word is all-seeing and all-knowing. It penetrates the innermost person and forces him to address what really matters. All things discover themselves and stand bare before God’s eyes. The author of Hebrews says nothing is hidden from God. We will all give an account of our lives to God.
In today’s gospel, we see God’s Word made flesh. It is God’s Son, Jesus Christ. St. John wrote in the prologue to his gospel that the Word made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory: The glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love (John 1:14). In today’s gospel reading from St. Mark, God’s Word meets man. The man asks what he can do to inherit eternal life. Jesus answers. The man answers back. And Jesus tells him there is one thing lacking. “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me”(Mark 10:21). Abandon yourself and follow Jesus, the Word made flesh. Trust Jesus above all else. Love Jesus above everything. Abandon everything. Put Jesus first and let Him change your life. That’s what Jesus told this rich, young man. He couldn’t, wouldn’t do it. Ultimately, the man entrusted possessions before God’s wisdom, God’s words, and God’s Word made flesh. That’s what Jesus emphasizes. Undue attachment to wealth is a form of idolatry. It is inconsistent with true service to God. Hopefully, the rich, young man was not ready to do this. Hopefully, he reconsidered and later did follow Jesus. We can only hope and pray.
So what must we know? That we can encounter God’s Word made flesh every Sunday at this beautiful Holy Mass. What must we do? We must come here with uplifted heart. The first part of the Mass is the penitential rite. We confess our faults and ask forgiveness. The second part is the liturgy of the word, where we listen to God speak to us. Another part is the liturgy of the Eucharist, where we receive Jesus Himself, the Word made flesh. He changes us if we let Him. Why should we care? Because God tells us that we are not our own gods. God’s word tells us that we mortals can and must trust Jesus, His Son, abandon everything, and follow Him. He will love us if we do and on that day, He will take us up with Him to heaven.
Homily for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (B), October 7th, 2018:
Genesis 2:18-24; Psalm 128:1-6; Hebrews 2:9-11; and Mark 10:2-16
By Father Scott Karnik
“The family that prays together, stays together.” That very wise adage from Father Patrick Peyton applies very much to today’s readings. In Genesis, we hear about the creation of Eve, the woman who is the best-suited helper of the man. God’s motive to create her is that “it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him”(Gen 2:18). God creates the woman for the man so that the two of them can enter into the sacrament of marriage. The end of this creation story proves it. The author establishes the dignity of the man and the woman in this story. “Dignity” is defined as “the quality or state of being esteemed, honored, or worthy.” This couple, one man and one woman, is totally unique to each other. The author of this story writes that the man is joyful at God’s creation of the woman. He is not alone anymore. The suitable partner has the same human nature that he does. They are united. God wills that the man and the woman enter into the sacrament of marriage. Notice that God puts the man into a deep sleep when He creates the woman. The man does not witness the mystery of God’s act of creation of another human being. God’s creation of another human being is a divine act. This is where abortion is most sinful. It destroys an act of divine creation by Almighty God Himself. God created the man and the woman and then blessed them to be fertile and multiply; to fill the earth and subdue it”(Gen 1:28). God creates a family. The family is the man and the woman in love and they have babies. This creation story explains a present reality. A man and a woman fall in love and marry. In Genesis 2:24, to “leave” and to “cleave” indicate a covenant. Therefore, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a sacrament and a covenantal relationship.
St. Mark writes in his gospel about Jesus’s attitude toward marriage and divorce. Jesus teaches that it is not permissible for the man and the woman to divorce. Other teachers did permit it. Jesus does not. Jesus uses Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 as the authority for His position. Jesus bans divorce. Then, Jesus privately tells His disciples that if a man or a woman should have to divorce their spouse, they cannot remarry without being considered an adulterer. The central message from St. Mark is Jesus’s challenge to husbands and wives to live in a faithful, fertile, holy, and perpetual union until death. To do so, requires prayer. It requires the husband and wife to remain in faithful contact with each other, with their children, and with God Himself. The man and the woman cannot do this alone. Father Patrick Peyton promoted the truth that “the family that prays together stays together.” He started a Family Rosary campaign that eventually led to a national radio program on which the Rosary was prayed. The danger of not praying together as a family is divorce and the cheapening of the sacrament of marriage.
This is important because the alternative to faith, family, and marriage is divorce, living together in sin, breakup, and abortion. These acts are promoted for the freedom they give. They do not provide freedom. They enslave. They enslave the man and the woman to their passions and selfishness. And then comes the critical question of how to deal with the consequence of that sinful union. The critical answer to that in this sinful world is abortion. The critical answer in this sinful world is divorce. They do not reinforce a family. They shatter it. Abortion is a satanic act which destroys God’s life-giving action. Abortion is a satanic act which destroys the life of a specific person that God wanted to place in this world, at this time, to perform a specific task to build God’s kingdom. Wherever abortion and divorce go, they leave destruction and death in their wake.
Jesus says that only a child-like trust will enable us to live up to His demands in the day-to-day relationships we have in families and elsewhere. We pray for grace from Jesus through His Blessed Mother by praying the Rosary, together, as a family. Jesus can keep families praying together and staying together. It is Jesus Christ’s forgiveness, love, and mercy that can reassemble lives shattered by abortion and divorce. He is eager and willing to forgive those who commit those sins. Jesus is one confession, Holy Mass, and Eucharist away.
So compare. Which world do you want to build? Is it the world of marriage, family, and children? Or is it the world of abortion and divorce? Which world do you want to live in? Which world do you want your children to live in? Which world do you want to leave for your grandchildren? The answer is clear on its face. It is the God-given world of one man and one woman in a family that prays together and stays together and has children. And with Jesus’s grace and our child-like trust in His teachings, that world can be revived quickly and powerfully.
February 12, 2017
October 23, 2016
October 2, 2016