posted on November 18, 2012 15:40
Homily: Father Mike Kuse
Blessed Sacrament Parish
November 18, 2012 - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
10 AM Service
We are about to complete another cycle of readings that coincides with what we call the liturgical year - the church year. We hear these readings every three years, but each time we hear them they are different. By this time, most of us have had many experiences in life. And the more experiences in life you have - the deeper the wisdom becomes about these readings and you learn to cherish them.
Jesus says, “You know, no one should ever be frightened because we are a people of hope.”
The challenge for us is that we keep living each day knowing, that as we go through every cycle of the church year, that we are keeping ourselves alive. We are keeping the church alive, and we are keeping creation alive. However, sometimes we tend to become a little lax in doing this.
Let's look at a practical thing, and then a spiritual thing.
When I was a young boy we had a family who lived next door. This lady had a trellis outside her kitchen door, and the trellis was filled with roses. One day she said to me, “I'm going to cut all the branches off these rose bushes.” I thought to myself, “Now why would you want to do something that stupid.”
She said, “Now when I cut the roses off the trellis, the trellis will be clear and then I will repaint the trellis and it will be bright and white. Then next spring, the roses are going to grow back, and when they come back they will be fresh and stronger and you will see how beautiful they are.”
And I thought, “OK. If you say so, we'll wait around and see what happens.”
She trimmed and cut the branches. She painted the trellis, and the next spring all the vines and roses came back. She would do this over and over every year. When the day came that God called her home, that trellis and those rose bushes were beautiful.
That's a very ordinary and practical experience.
Now let's get down to what the Gospel is talking about. Jesus is saying to us, “When do you prune your own life? When do you strive to bring a little touch of simplicity into your life? When do you really realize, as you look in the mirror - just who you are? And what are your distractions?”
The trellises in our lives are the things that surround us. Sometimes we can be very impatient. The more impatient we become, the less we are the person that we really want to be - and our spiritual trellis needs a paint job. Now in order to change that impatience, we don't just say three Hail Marys and God does the rest. We need to look at our lives and ask - what causes my impatience?
We might say to ourselves, “I do pray, but quite often there is a tendency when I am just rambling words. And sometimes I forget that there may be someone out there who needs the gifts that I have, but I am really too busy to give them. And since my neighbor doesn't do what he's supposed to do, it just eats at my impatience. But deep down - I know - that if I would just reach out to that neighbor I might become more patient.”
When it comes to the Eucharist: We come to church, we are happy to be at church, we are glad to receive communion, and we are glad to receive the Word of God. But sometimes we think, “You know, I went to church today. I know I was there - but when I left I felt like I really wasn't with it at that particular Eucharist. What a difference it might make if I came to church to clear the cobwebs out of my life. All I want to do is stay focused during the service. I want to know that everybody sitting around me - they all have their own set of problems and concerns. Everyone wants to have his own trellis with beautiful roses blooming on it. Everybody really wants to have a better life. But if we're all just sitting here - then what's really happening to us?”
And Jesus says, “Just live your life every day. Because when I call you home, when the end of the world comes, you don't even need to worry about it because it is going to be the perfect time. Just like the trellis will be white and beautiful and the roses are in full bloom - your life is going to speak of calmness and love. And inside you're going to be rejoicing and very happy that you are the person that you are, and not someone else.”
And so this Sunday God is saying to us, “You need to paint your trellis. Because if you don't, eventually it's going to look so bad that the roses growing all over it won't even cover up the mess. And you know what? You're life is really good. You just don't see it because of the distractions in your life. You just don't see it because of a lack of prayer. You just don't see it because of the lack of attention you give to your neighbor. These are the things that are blocking out how wonderful your life is. The whole world can be jealous of you, and you can care less because you don't value what you have.”
So this morning you and I are the ones who have to make a choice. Are we going to prune the vines and paint the trellis? Are we going to look in the mirror, and look at our neighbor, and say “I really need to change my life.”
May you and I make the choice so that when God says, “You are my sons and my daughters,” he is going to find a people very much at peace, deeply in love, and ready to tell the world: “We are part of God's Kingdom.”
Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.