Homilette for Friday, August 1, 2008

Memorial of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, bishop and doctor of the Church

(Matthew 13:54-58)

In one of his novels Larry McMurtry tells the story of an antique collector who buys a precious item from the owners of a second-hand store. The owners ask a price many times below the actual value of the object because they do not know what it is really worth. In the gospel today the townspeople where Jesus grew up similarly do not recognize Jesus for who he really is. Rather, because they know his family, they think that they know him. They do not realize that he is actually the long awaited Messiah who comes to save Israel. Even his miraculous cures and his wonderful teaching do not convince them.

Some of us likewise may be scandalized by the ways that Jesus makes himself present to us. He does not come in a grand banquet which we have to pay thousands of dollars to participate in. No, he becomes present in the simple hosts and the inexpensive wine that we bring to the altar. His teachings, which promise everlasting life, are likewise not complicated theorems that only people as intelligent as astrophysicists can understand. No, they contain the straightforward message that we are to love God above all and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We must be careful not to reject Jesus as his townspeople do in the gospel. Quite the contrary, we must be ever grateful that he makes himself available to us and to all.