Homily for 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle C-2016

posted Aug 22, 2016, 12:09 PM by Church Office   [ updated Aug 22, 2016, 12:09 PM by Michelle Massung ]

        Today, Jesus gives us three distinct statements that may seem like they contradict some other statements that he makes during his ministry.  The first is that he wishes the world were aflame.  What is he referring to?  He is referring that the Holy Spirit, who came in the form of tongues of fire, were ablaze throughout the world.  He wants the love of God to be everywhere on earth.  The second statement is about his baptism.  He is referring to his crucifixion and death.  However, he knows that when we are baptized, we receive the gift of everlasting life.  He is willing to sacrifice his very life for us and for our salvation.  The third statement is the most disturbing.  He tells us that he did not come to bring peace, but rather division.  However, don’t we call Jesus the Prince of Peace?  Don’t we hear him tell the Disciples “Peace be with you.” when he appears to them after the resurrection?  What does he mean that he has come to bring division? 

            What he is referring to is the idea that those who believe in Jesus will divide households, will divide neighborhoods, will divide families because some will believe and some will choose not to believe.  As a result, a house or family or neighborhood will become divided. 

            Another type of division occurs among Christian denominations.  We as Catholics believe that Christ founded our church and entrusted its care to Peter, the first pope and to all the successors to Peter.  However, these differences can divide families such as my own family.  I have one brother that is a Baptist, another that is Lutheran.  At first, my father had a hard time accepting that they had left the Catholic faith to join other churches.  However, each of them is very involved in their churches and are living lives that truly bring glory and honor to God, through their relationship with Christ.  My other three brothers rarely go to mass.  This bothers me; however, I have to trust that they will return one day.

            So how did these differences happen within the Christian community?  It happened during the period of the Reformation when various leaders of countries decided not to follow certain teachings of the Catholic faith.  For example, Luther, a Catholic priest was against priests saying more than one mass per day and getting paid money for indulgences by the rich parishioners.  These people believed that by paying a priest to pray for them, instead of living a good moral life, they would be given entry into heaven.  Come to think about it, I might start offering more masses if the price is right!! Just kidding!!  King Henry the VIII wanted to get a divorce and the local Catholic bishop would not allow him to get a divorce so he formed his own church and had the bishop exiled and then killed.  Other protestant denominations were formed in similar ways; yet each came out of the Catholic faith.

            These denominations have another thing in common, that is, they rely solely on the Bible for their guidance and teachings.  However, we as Catholics rely not only the Bible but also on Oral Tradition and the Magisterium.  Why?  Well I can assure you that not all the teachings Protestants believe in can be found in the Bible.  They too rely on some traditions as well as the Bible.  For example, where in the Bible does it state that we are to worship on Sundays?  I thinks the Jews have this one correct when they worship on Saturdays.  They believe that God worked for 6 days and then rested.  We believe that he rested then worked 6 days.  Also, where in the Bible is the fact that Jesus was born on December 25th, or that the Annunciation happened on March 25th?  I could give many more examples but I think you get my point.  The other source of our Catholic teachings is the Magisterium.  It is headed by Pope Francis and is composed of the College of Bishops throughout the world.  They interpret the scriptures and address different issues in the current world.  Why do we need them?  We believe that our church is alive and made up of people living in all parts of the world, yet have a singular purpose of living a life as Disciples of Christ.  However, different issues throughout the world need to be addressed.  For example, stem cell research, when does life begin, when does a person really die, how to tend to the poor, etc.  The Magisterium meets on a regular basis to discuss many different issues and then issue directives or other papers that help clarify what the church teaches on various topics.  It is my responsibility to read these papers and then apply them to this parish when needed. 

            The Catholic Church is the one church founded by Christ.  Although other churches came out of our faith, they are not to be condemned but embraced because our similarities are greater than our differences.  We all believe that Christ is our savior and that if we love God and love others, we will be doing the will of God, regardless of our particular beliefs.  Let us continue to show our love of God and of others in living out our calling as his disciples.