Homily for the Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C (12 & 13/11/22)

posted 14 Nov 2022, 01:58 by Parish Office

We have been living in unusual, and strange times. Things we might never have expected, have happened in recent memory. For some people in this parish, the closure of St Peter’s Church in Cobrigde was one such example. For others, the vote for Brexit, and/or the vote for Donald Trump and Boris Johnson were seen as cataclysmic events, although these matters are still up for debate. Then, more recently, the pandemic. We were used to hearing about outbreaks of diseases many miles away, with Ebola in parts of Africa, or various forms of ‘flu, SARS, MERS etc., but never for something considered so deadly to spread around the whole world. Now, there is the astronomical rise in gas and electricity prices. A few percent, we might have been used to or even expected, but such a rise, well, if you had predicted it five years ago, nobody would have believed you. The world seems, in so many ways, to be so unstable.

The Jews would have had similar fears when the Romans destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. The Temple was the sign of God’s presence among them. They were used to the fact of Roman occupation, but God had enabled them to continue to practise their religion, unlike the persecution that took place during the time when they were part of the empire of the Greeks. It was an earth-shattering moment.

Whatever happens in our world, there is something even more important, which is when we go to meet the Lord ourselves; as the saying goes, there are two things certain in life: death and taxes. In November, we focus on the Holy Souls in Purgatory; as the saying also goes, prevention is better than cure.

In two weeks’ time, we begin the season of Advent, and that raises the issue of being ready, not only to celebrate the birth of Christ, but also to be ready for His return. One of the ways we do that is by reviewing our lives and going to confession.

There can be various reasons why people don’t go to confession. Sometimes, one of the difficulties is not that of being afraid to confess, but to know what to confess. Pope St John Paul II used to write about people losing their sense of sin – he meant by this that people didn’t know what a sin was, they didn’t think in terms of right and wrong, and were happy to commit sin without even thinking, or perhaps they had justified it in advance

– I need to do this, or, everyone else is doing the same so I would feel awkward with not going along with the crowd. And this can sometimes include matters that are very serious.

When you are trying to get somewhere, if you just try to work it out for yourself, sometimes you get it right, and other times you end up lost. You need a map or a sat nav. The same is true in the spiritual life. If we are to know what is right and wrong, we need similar guidance, and sometimes, the world gets it completely wrong – it’s a bit like a supermarket shelf where someone has swapped the price labels around. As a bit of a guide, I’ve put together something at the back of church. It’s a list of things that the Catechism mentions are serious sins. It’s not for children to read. It’s not exhaustive either. I’m sure there are others as well that we could think of. But it’s a start. Take a copy home, and when you dare to, have a look through it.

Just to finish with, though, I’ve got a story for you:

There was a meeting of the board of directors going on in Hell. Satan was concerned over the fact that business was not increasing. He wanted to reach as many people as possible and draw them into Hell.

One demon jumped up and said: “I’ll go back to earth and convince the people that there is no Heaven”.

“That won’t do”, said Satan. “We’ve tried it before and it doesn’t work.”

“I’ll convince them that there is no Hell”, offered a second demon.

“No – that doesn’t work either”, said Satan.

A wise old veteran in the back of the room rose and said: “If you let me go back to earth, I can fill this place. I’ll just convince them that there is no hurry.”