Fr. Jolly’s Homily for Sunday, August 11, 2019

19th Sunday in OT. Luke. 12:32-48

The Responsorial Psalm reminds us:  Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own. How blessed we are as Catholics! We are a chosen race, a holy nation, a people of His Own possession.  And we have a journey to make and a destiny to reach. Asking for the grace to make that journey gracefully and the dedication to reach our destination, let’s enter into this sacred celebration!

Once upon a time there was a man who made an unusual agreement with Death. According to the agreement, this man would happily and willingly accompany death when it came the time for him to die, but only on one condition – that Death would send a messenger well in advance to give him a warning that he can prepare well. Days turned into weeks and Weeks turned into months, and months into years. Then one bitter winter evening, as the man was sitting down to eat a juicy stake and a glass of wine, and thinking about all his possessions, Death suddenly entered the room and tapped him on the shoulder. Startled, the man cried out, “You’re here so soon and without a warning! I thought we had an agreement.” Said the man! Death replied, “I’ve more than kept my agreement. I’ve sent you many messengers. Look in the mirror and you’ll see some of them.” As the man complied, Death whispered, “Notice your hair! Once it was full and golden, now it is thin and white. Look at the way you tilt your head to listen to me because you can’t hear very well. Observe how close to the mirror you must stand to see yourself clearly. Yes, I’ve sent many messengers through the years. I’m sorry you’re not ready, but the time has come for you to leave.”

Today the the church is inviting us to think about  eschatology or Parousia; what is going to happen in the end times. Today’s passage is an eschatological discourse from the Gospel. “Let your loins be girded and your lamps burning. The Boy Scouts have as their motto, Be Prepared! Be ready for action! Baden-Powell wasn’t thinking just of being ready for emergencies. His idea was that all Scouts should prepare themselves to become productive and fruitful citizens and to give happiness to other people. He wanted each Scout to be ready in mind and body for any struggles, and to meet with a strong heart whatever challenges might lie ahead. Be prepared for life – to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best. That’s what the Christian motto means. Garments tied up about the waist are an image of readiness in the Scriptures because the Jewish soldiers wore full-length garments while Roman soldiers wore half skirts, which enabled them to run at full speed when they had to. Jesus wants his disciples to be ready.  The central theme of today’s gospel reading is the necessity of the watchful preparedness in the lives of Christians.  They are to be prepared at all times because   the Son of Man may come at an unexpected time and hour.  This passage has two points to ponder: In its narrower sense it refers to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ; in its wider sense it refers to the time when God’s command enters a man’s life, a call to meet the Lord. ‘There is praise and reward for the servant who is ready. Therefore, the Christians must always be well prepared for the end of their lives and also for the Second Coming of the Lord. When is that day, we don’t know!

In the parable, the chief characters are a master (representing the risen Jesus), and his servants (Jesus’ followers).  Jesus tells the story of an unwise man who made as irreparable mistake. This unwise man made two mistakes. (i) He said, “I will do what I like while my master is away.” Jesus warns us that knowledge and privilege bring responsibility with them. To (ii) He said, “I have plenty of time to put things right before the master comes. So we misuse our life and our talents. Nothing is as bad as procrastination.  Nothing may be more harmful than to assume we have more time (I Thessalonians 5:3). The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night! Jesus says, “I must do the work of my Father while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

One Sunday this couple stayed back after the Mass. She was very week. She said, this was the best Mass ever. The homily was the best I ever heard. I thought there was nothing different from the previous week. What made it for her different? A month ago she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer stage four and doctor had had given her 1 month to live. Three weeks had already passed. Probably that was her last Mass and she learned to take that bit seriously! St. Alphonsus Liguori said, it a great foolishness that human being don’t think about death. It’s even greater foolishness that after thinking about it, they don’t prepare for it. What is the one thing we need to do? Take the Lord and His words a bit more seriously!!!

Traditional Catholic theology teaches about the “Four Last Things of Christian life”: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. We are admonished to meditate upon these things frequently. We WILL die, be judged, and spend eternity either in Hell, or in Heaven (likely after some time in purgatory). All men are appointed to die once, and after that face the judgment (Hebrews 9:27) Friends, what if you had only two more days before your death? Do you have unfinished businesses? Do you think that you have plenty of time before the Lord calls you to eternity? Like the unwise man in our gospel story don’t make irreparable mistake in your life. This may be the last warning the lord gives you!

Can we take the Lord and his promise a bit more seriously? At least as serious as we take a mustard seed? Then consider this: I have not been on talking terms with one of my relatives or friends. I am sure that it is all entirely his or her fault? Can I then have faith as small as the mustard seed to move me to trade my feeling of hurt for the Lord’s promise of great reward? Or, I have a little, old habit like drinking or gambling or gossiping that is a hurdle on my growth into a person with dignity and respect. Can I trade it for the Lord’s promise of great reward? The Lord says, ‘loosen your heart and your fist; give up your hurts and complaints; give up your attachment to things and detachment from people; after all, all these together amount to just a mustard seed. You get from me a mountain of grace and blessings.’