Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C

Two Views on the Pharisees
Our culture portrays the Pharisees as the “Bad Guys” – But at the time of Jesus they were not the “Bad Jews” – but the good Jews. They went to Synagogue on Saturday, they fasted they obeyed the Law and tried to live out the Torah. . Today we compare two different Pharisees – the one in the Gospel that Jesus tells us about, and the one who wrote the 2nd Letter to Timothy – St. Paul.

Role Reversal
In today’s Gospel Jesus tells the story about the prayers of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Tax Collector was considered at the time to be a “Bad Jew” for two reasons. First, they helped the Romans to collect taxes – they collaborated with the enemy. Also, most Tax Collectors were corrupt, they padded the tax bill and extorted their own people. They were despicable.

Why is Jesus so hard on the Pharisee in the Gospel? – God in a Box, or God in your heart.
Jesus is hard on the Pharisee because he is not praying to God, but worshipping himself. He has placed God in a box that doesn’t allow God into his heart. Jesus praises the Tax Collector because he allows God into his Heart.

Putting God in a box is a spiritual trap that we fall into at one time or another. It is when we prevent our religious practice from penetrating our heart, so that we can allow God to transform our lives. Whenever we put God in a box, and keep Him out of our Heart, we limit God’s love – which is infinite.

The Other Pharisee
The other Pharisee in today’s reading is St. Paul. In his second letter to Timothy, written shortly before his beheading in Rome, He reflects on his life. Paul was very much the brother in the Gospel today. He was very strict and ardent in his following of Judaism.

Then something happened to him on the Road to Damascus – Christ came into his heart and St. Paul allowed himself to be transformed. Into his life flowed the Holy Spirit like a river, and flooded over the Church, and the Roman world, down to us today. We see the fruits of a good and holy life in St. Paul’s letter today. This is the source of our encouragement to seek and strive after leading a life that is always open to the living presence of God that seeks to dwell in us as a fire.

Poured out like a libation
In his letter today St. Paul expresses the way that his life is ending – He starts by expressing that “My Life is being poured out like a libation…” A Libation was a cup of wine that the pagan priests would pour out as a sacrifice to the Emperor. – Here St. Paul describes how God is pouring out his love through his life, and St. Paul is the Pharisee that we are called to follow.

Human Beings need Hero’s
Look across all people for all time, and you will find in all cultures there are people who are held up as role models – as people to be emulated. Why?
Because they inspire us to live a better life. Therefore, we have a need to always seek what is Good, what is true, what is excellent.

This need to seek the good, the beautiful, the true. These three qualities (The good, beautiful and true) are rooted in the fact that we are created in God’s Image and likeness.

We have a need to live lives that help us to seek out the Good, the True and the Beautiful because we are created to be in communion with God.

Heroes – Role Models help us to live lives that end like St. Paul’s – where we say at the end of life saying “I have competed Well…”

Secular Heroes – Spiritual Heroes
Right now the Colorado Rockies are Heroes. Athletes look up to them in how they approach playing a team game. Look at the time they put into practice, exercise, diet, rest, listening to their coaches, studying the game, strategy and tactics at playing a good game.

We need Heroes and the Spiritual life is no different. St. Paul is an example of a hero whom we can get to know, study, and follow after. He can help us to “let God out of the Box” – so that the Holy Spirit can be poured out through us.

Heroes make the spiritual life livable. Sometimes we look at what we as Christians are called to and we lose hope – we think that the goal is unrealistic. This is where Hero’s help us to strive down the path that Christ has called us to – they help us to achieve what seems unachievable.

Examples of Heroes
As a kid – the Astronauts – They led lives of adventure / they were smart, brave, and did very difficult things.

As an adult – The Archbishop. He is courageous, an example of how to live a holy life, to speak the truth in the face of serious opposition. Hero’s help us to let God out of the box we tend to place Him in and into our hearts – where He can pour out His love into our lives.

Stewardship Challenge – How am I going to let God into my heart this year?
Time is the gift of the opportunity to change, to begin to conquer the reign of Sin in our lives.

If not, what are we spending the gift of time on? Is it a worthwhile pursuit? Where is it taking us?

How am I going to let God into my heart this next year? We are in the midst of our annual reflection on Stewardship – in which we reflect on the ways that we steward the gifts that God has given us. Last weekend we reflected on how we steward the gifts of Talent, by sharing them with our Brothers and Sisters. This weekend we are reflecting on our stewardship of the Gift of Time. What are we going to do this next year with the gift of time that God has given us?

[[Make A Commitment together]]
Today, I am going to do something that we never do in Church – Ask the Ushers to pass out the Bulletins and the Pencils – OR STAGE THE BULLETINS AT THE END OF EVERY PEW?

Everyone, let us pray this prayer together.

Prayer for Discernment.

Heavenly Father
We thank you for the Gift of Time, the Gift of the opportunity to fall more deeply in love with you.
Send your Holy Spirit over us,
Direct our hearts and thoughts to the ways
That you want us to invest your gift in this next year
We ask this through Christ our Lord

St. Anthony of Padua

Pray for Us.

Next to the prayer is a commitment card, it lists in English on one side, and in Spanish on the other side ways that we can offer to invest some of our time this next year. Prayerfully look over this list and mark off the items that the Holy Spirit directs you to follow. Then, tear the paper in half, put one half in your pocket or purse, and the other half in the collection.

The Offertory of the Mass is the time when we offer ourselves along with the Gifts of Bread and Wine to God. Take this time to prayerfully offer to God some of our time this next year.

On the tear out section of the Bulletin is a list of ways that you can offer to invest some of the time that God has given you this next year.

TAX COLLECTORS – Hero’s for starting out

The Tax Collector in Today’s Gospel challenges us. At the time of Jesus a Tax Collector was a “Bad Guy”, and yet, Our Lord assures us that this Tax Collector is closer to God than most of those who heard this Gospel. Why? The Tax Collector is acutely aware of where He is at in His relationship with God, and he begins His journey to heaven in Truth – He humbles himself so that God may work through him. The Tax Collector is the most despicable of all of the members of the Jewish nation, and yet, he too is our Hero today, because he teaches us to turn back to God, even if we think that He is a long way off.

John Paul II
One of My Hero’s is Pope John Paul II – He had a profound effect on my formation as a Deacon. When the time for my last son to be born came, I found myself with my wife in the Hospital over the New Year between 2005 and 2006. Just before we headed out the door I grabbed a book that someone had gotten for me as a gift a long time ago. It had sat on the shelf gathering dust for years, and yet the Holy Spirit prompted me to bring it. The book was written by John Paul II, and it was about his life growing up in communist Poland, and being the Bishop there. I spent my time over the New Years holiday in the Hospital with my wife and new son, reading quietly while they were asleep, and helping them out when they were awake. John Paul became a hero for me over the course of that weekend, and I have learned to ask for His prayers, and to follow his spiritual advice, to be encouraged to grow closer to Christ, whom John Paul relentlessly pursued.



Memorial of St. Ignatius of Antioch
Philippians 3:17-4:1, Gospel : John 12:24-26

Today is the Feast of Ignatius of Antioch, one of the most beloved bishops of the apostolic era. Ignatius was also known by the name “Theophorus” which means God Carrier. He was a disciple of the apostle John and was ordained the 3rd Bishop of Antioch, Syria, by St’s Peter and St. Paul.

Ignatius is remembered for his journey to Rome, where he was martyred by lions in the coliseum in Rome 1900 years ago. Ignatius wrote seven letters on his journey to Rome

The Transmission of the Faith of the Apostles
I wanted to reflect on the role and nature of the Church, because Ignatius is one of those figures in early Church history that God used to help the Church come to a deeper understanding of herself, her mission and her connectedness to Christ. If you ever have the opportunity to discuss the faith with those who are Mormon in faith, which claims that there was a great apostasy after the Apostles died out, Ignatius is the counter-argument par-excellence. By studying his letters, and knowing his relationship to the apostles, and to the Scriptures, you see the continuity of the Catholic faith being handed on from generation to generation.

A Holistic view of the Church
Ask many Catholics today, what is the Church and you will get a variety of answers – It is the Pope and the Bishops in communion with the Pope, It is the People, or worse – It is an institution with a set of rules and regulations that we need to follow, or I don’t need a Church I can come to know God alone.

At the heart of St. Ignatius’ vision of the Church is the idea that it is through the relationships between the members of the Church that God’s plan for salvation is worked out. This is why communion amongst the members is so important. Whenever we find ourselves having an impoverished view of the Church we end up minimizing one of these relationships, and reducing the avenues of grace that God has chosen to work through.

Ignatius’ view of the Church called for obedience to the relationship, a willingness to continue to walk with one another in charity so that we are transformed in our relationships to be as St. Paul calls us to – imitators of him, as he imitates Christ.

My servant will follow me – on “the Way” of the Cross.
The Gospel today calls us to serve Christ, by following him on the way of the Cross. Walking the way of the cross means that we are called to live a life of sacrificial love; to die to sin. The question that we are confronted with today is; what sin, what relationship, what person must I die to, in a sacrifice of love so that God’s glory can shine through my weakness. Let us be inspired St. Ignatius’ own witness to the faith inspires us to pursue the way of sacrificial love.