Homilette for Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wednesday of the Twenty-fifth Week in Ordinary Time

(Luke 9:1-6)

As a training exercise, a group of Peace Corps Volunteers were once left individually in villages not far from their training center around noon on Sunday. The volunteers were provided with little more than carfare back to the center. When the volunteers regrouped that evening, most of them told stories of gracious hospitality. In almost every case villagers invited them into their homes for dinner and a few even drove the volunteers back to the training center.

In today’s gospel Jesus’ apostles are sent out in a not too dissimilar way. They, however, are not to bring anything with them “just in case.” Rather, they are to depend completely on Providence working through the townspeople they encounter. Of course, they will offer to the people release from demons, cures of diseases, and the good news of God’s kingdom, but these blessings are not meant as ways to finagle hospitality or to reward it. Rather, they represent God’s favor upon those who accept His grace. Indeed, Jesus indicates that some villagers will likely shut their doors in his apostles’ faces.

The dependency of the apostles upon Providence thrills our consciences like a bugle call. Today in our society most people, including church workers, strive to avert risks. The credit card has long served as a way never to be caught without money. With cellular telephones in emergencies help is only a few pushed buttons away. Other resources like generous insurance policies protect against catastrophic situations. Although these privileges are often defended as prudential, they may leave us with the question: What does it mean today to trust in God’s Providence if we avoid all risks?

Homilette for Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Memorial of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, priest

(Luke 8:19-21)

We still tell the parents of a bride and groom that they are not losing a child but gaining one. In the gospel today Jesus indicates that his mother is not losing a son but gaining a host of children.

At first reading, it may appear that Jesus is distancing himself from Mary. He says rather brusquely that his mother and brother “are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” But recalling the beginning of Luke’s gospel, we remember how Mary is the first to do just that. She willingly accepts the angel’s message that she is to be the mother of the Savior. Likewise, she makes haste to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth when the angel mentions the latter’s miraculous pregnancy.

Still the thrust of this passage is not so much Mary’s being named the mother of Jesus as we being designated his brothers and sisters. We should note that the relationship is not attributed to everyone. No, to qualify as a member of Jesus’ family we must, like Mary, listen to the word of God with our hearts and act on it with our lives.