posted on November 04, 2012 15:52
Homily: Father Mike Kuse
Blessed Sacrament Parish
November 4, 2012 - 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
10 AM Service
When you go into the Old Testament, as the first reading alludes, a part of the teaching of the old law was to have many laws. There were several hundred of them. If you kept the law, then you were fine. If you did not keep the law then God would seek you out in some way. In the New Testament, as Jesus comes out of that tradition of laws, he says, “I am going to create a new kingdom, and that kingdom is a kingdom of love. And if you have the message of love, you don't need all of the laws.”
We certainly see that today in the government and the church. It just seems like we are always adding something. But the real model for a Christian is to walk that path of love.
This morning I would like for us to think about love as a direction. This simply means that if I know my goal is to see God face to face - I need to stay on the right path. The thing that is going to direct me on that path is love. If I have love I don't have anything to worry about.
We are challenged because we have a free will and sometimes we choose to go off in the wrong direction. It's like with some cars when your GPS tells you one thing, and the direction changes and you have to re-calculate where you're going. You need to get back on the right path. You need to be going in that direction.
This morning we might just think about: What are the things that distract us from love? Am I choosing to be in control, rather than move forward in the right direction? Do we realize that God is loving us no matter what? Sometimes our actions speak louder than words. Sometimes what we speak and what we show in our actions might invite others to go off the path - and they somehow need to come back.
To give you an example, when I was teaching in high school there happened to be a young girl in the class. She was a neat student and a very nice young lady. I noticed that she was starting to change and I couldn't figure out why.
One day after class I asked her if we could have a few minutes to talk, and she agreed. When we sat down I said, “There must be something going on in your life. You're not the same vivacious kid that has been sitting in this class.”
She started to cry and said, “Father, I've started drinking and I'm drinking before I come to school in the morning. That's why when I'm sitting in class you just don't see the same person.”
I said to her, “What do your parents say about this? Have they noticed any change in you?”
She said, “Father, I guess that is part of the problem but, I can't use it as an excuse. My Mom and Dad are both alcoholics and so we have all this liquor in the house. So when I take a drink my parents don't notice anything missing.”
She said, “I watch them and it's not what I want for myself - but somehow I figured if they're doing this to drown their problems, I guess I should learn how to do it to drown my problems.”
I said, “You can't really change your Mom and Dad, and I can't change you.
But I will certainly journey with you so you can see that you need to get your life back on the path of love - the path that is going to give you happiness every day of your life.”
We have to remember whenever we go off the path, we have God's promise of loving us. He doesn't go the other way. He stays with us, and he waits, and he loves us until you and I are headed in the right direction. Sometimes we take love for granted, or we push it. And we realize that it's not something I can give or take, it has to be who I am.
Today one of the greatest challenges in life is for those people who are out of work and who just can't stretch their budgets enough to pay for everything. We have people with health issues and other problems that are stretching them financially.
I remember a young lady who was married and loved her husband. Her way of taking off from that path of love was to spend for no reason. She worked in a mall. She would say to the people she worked with, “Oh, my husband just doesn't understand. He's always complaining because we can never pay off our credit card.”
A friend who worked with her said, “Well, maybe you ought to quit spending.”
One day on her lunch hour she went into a jewelry store and came back and showed to her friends this new ring she had just bought. They just looked at her and said, “What's wrong with you?”
She said, “Well, I like this ring.”
Her friends said, “But what did you pay for it? You can't even pay your bills.”
She said, “It only cost thirty-five hundred dollars.”
They asked, “What is your husband going to think?”
She said, “Oh, I'll just make sure I get the mail before he comes home and finds that bill.”
Her friends said, “You don't get it. You just don't get it. You promised each other love, and you were going to walk that path. You need to find some help for yourself - or your marriage won't be there.”
Here was someone going off the path who lost her sense of direction and understanding that - “What I should really want in my marriage is to lead both of us to Christ, and a marriage that is going to bring happiness to both of us.”
Everybody here could stand up and give ten examples of how we all get off of that sense of direction, and how we need to get back. But the one thing that you and I must remember is that God's love is more powerful than anything else. God's not forgetting us. He's constantly calling us back to his sense of direction. He's saying to us, “You have to improvise. You need to know that if this happens you need to do this, and if that happens you need to do that. But you must never lose that sense of direction - which is love.”
You cannot love your neighbor and not love God. You cannot love God and not love your neighbor. It just doesn't connect.
So you and I need to look at our own lives, and when we sense we are going away from that direction of love we need to say - “God, bring me back. Let me know that your love is what I need in my life. If I have that love, I don't need laws. I just need the spirit, and that spirit will be in my heart.”
Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.