5th / 6th October 2019

posted 7 Oct 2019, 02:37 by Parish Office

Homily for the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

(5 & 6/10/19)


What does God want me to do with my life?  Now there’s a question.  Whether we are five years old, or eighty-five years old, it’s a question that never goes away.  Is God calling me to remain single, to get married, to join a religious order or to become a priest or a deacon?  What does God want me to do today?  Should I apply for that job?  Do I really have to offer to help that person who really irritates and annoys me, and is always so ungrateful?  Should I be spending more time in prayer?  There are all sorts of questions we can ask ourselves from day to day.  Maybe we might think it would be better if we could just plug ourselves into a computer, and it could show us how we are doing:  look – this week, I’ve achieved 89% on prayer, 74% on helping others, but only 32% on controlling my temper.  Click.  “Hint for the day:  try getting up half an hour earlier on Saturdays, so you can get a few more jobs done in the morning, before everyone else gets up and starts making demands on you.”


Our lives don’t work that way.  But in some ways, what God has given us is very technologically advanced.  All our prayers are wireless, and we get reception whether we are about the house, or even in a submarine or on the moon.  The computer never crashes.  But sometimes the operator doesn’t want to respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.


It can happen in obvious ways.  Maybe it just seems like too much hard work to help this person out again, and it’s easier just to get annoyed and say “go away” instead.  But it can also happen by a slow slide instead.  In the second reading, St Paul reminds Timothy, who was a bishop (they called them elders back then):  after I laid hands on you, you were filled with the Holy Spirit.  Don’t let those gifts you received remain unused.  Don’t let timidity and fearfulness dominate you and keep you quiet when you should speak out.  Speak with the Spirit, with power, with love, with self-control.  How difficult is that – to keep all those three together:  power, love and self-control?  How many times do we speak out, but without love, and hurt others?  How many times do we try to be loving, but end up watering down the truth, so that it isn’t really proper love, and maybe even encourages others to persevere in bad habits?  How many times to we lose self-control, and anger goes just too far?  And how many time do we not do any of these, but remain quiet, because we don’t know what to say and are afraid that if we speak out, we’ll make a mess of it?  We can probably all put up our hands and admit to these.  For those of us who have been confirmed, the words of St Paul apply to us:  “fan into a flame the gift that God gave you … the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control”.  How we need the Holy Spirit!  And how we need to listen when He prompts us as well.


For some people, the Spirit leads them to a certain dissatisfaction with the way the world is today.  It’s a bit like the first reading, where the prophet Habakkuk asks the Lord why there is so much tyranny, outrage, violence and discord around him.  And that dissatisfaction, if it’s not to be empty dissatisfaction, can be joined to a desire to do something about it.  At the end of the reading, the Lord reveals to Habakkuk the suffering of the wicked:  “See how he flags, he whose soul is not at rights, but the upright man will live by his faithfulness”.  How wonderful it is to have a clear conscience, and how difficult it can be sleeping at night when you don’t!


It’s sometimes said that prevention is better than cure.  A teacher once told me that he went into teaching because he used to be a police officer, and he wanted to influence children when they are young, to stop them ending up turning to crime.  Maybe some might discern that teaching is their vocation.  For others, it might be being a parent, bringing up their children to follow the Lord.  For some, they might feel called to youth work, to provide a good role model, especially for those that don’t have good role models at home.  For some, it might be to dedicate their lives as religious, and to offer their lives catechising, teaching the faith.  If someone has good and solid faith and morals, all the rest begins to take care of itself.  Or it might be a calling to the priesthood.  “See how he flags, he whose soul is not at rights, but the upright man will live by his faithfulness.”  The sacrament of confession restores virtue, gives people a second chance, helps them make something good of their lives, rather than throwing them on the scrapheap of prison and a life of crime.  What is God calling you to do?


A Prayer of St Ignatius


God our Father, You have a plan for each one of us, You hold out to us a future full of hope.

Give us the wisdom of your Spirit so that we can see the shape of your plan in the gifts you have given us, and in the circumstances of our daily lives.

Give us the freedom of your Spirit, to seek you with all our hearts, and to choose Your Will above all else.

We make this prayer through Christ our Lord.