Sunday, October 11, 2009  We are not all called to give away all that we have, but we are all called to live more simply so that others might simply live.

Homily, Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fr. Ed Oen, C.PP.S.

As we travel the roads of life, we come to many forks in the road. You can choose to take the road that leads to destruction or the one that leads to life. Sometimes, we take that easy road, that paved road, that wide road, that leads to destruction, and we suffer the consequences.  While other times, we take the hard road that is more like a path that leads to happiness and fulfillment.

In today’s Gospel, a young man comes running up to Jesus. He was taking the road roads to life. He was living the commandments but he was looking for something more for his life. And Jesus looked at him with love. He told him to go and sell what you have and give it to the poor; then come back and follow Me. The man went away sad. Unlike the 12 apostles who gave up everything they had to follow Jesus, he refused to give up his possessions and come back and follow Jesus. He was the only person in Mark’s Gospel who was invited to follow Jesus but who did not become a disciple. 

Down through the centuries there have been many great saints who heard the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel. They sold everything to become his followers. For example, Saint Anthony of the Desert. Saint Anthony was in charge of his little sister of ten or eleven years old. When his folks died, he received an inheritance – in money and in the farm. One day on the way to church, he heard a voice say, “Sell what you have and give it to the poor.” He did so and gave the money for the care of his younger sister. The next time he went to church, he heard a voice that told him to sell the remaining property. He did so and he gave that money to holy women who took care of orphaned children. He then went out to the desert where he lived for years and years and died at the age of 104 that was almost unheard of for that time. He made a real difference as people had come to him for all sorts of correction.

There was Saint Francis of Assisi, who is an example of a man who had everything. He was well to do. After hearing the Lord say, “Build up my church”, he took that to mean that he was to take that little church of Assisi and redo it as it was in disrepair. After he worked to do all that, the Lord spoke to him again, saying, “Build my church.” Francis thought that the Lord was calling him to follow Him more closely. Francis told his parents that he wanted to follow Christ more closely and to become a beggar monk. He went on to become greatly meshed in the Lord. He later received bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus.

Another is Saint Katharine Drexel. She is an American saint. She lived for 96 years, dying in 1955. I had known about her since I was a kid. She inherited millions of dollars in the 1860’s from her parents; her father died young; he was an oil baron. Katharine dedicated her life and inheritance to the needs of oppressed Native Americans and Blacks in the West and Southwest United States, and was a vocal advocate of racial tolerance. To address racial injustice and destitution and spread the Gospel to these groups, Katharine established a religious order, the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored People. Because Katharine felt a universal need for education, especially among Blacks and Native Americans, she financed more than 60 missions and schools around the United States. She gave all her money towards the education and well-being of others. There is a more modern example of someone who gave it all.

We are not all called to give away all that we have, but we are all called to live more simply so that others might simply live. Our country suffers from so much – whether it is over-eating or over-drinking – an excess of an abundance of things. The Lord would say to put aside some of those things and give it to the poor. I see sometimes on the lawn at the rectory in Baileyville where someone drank about a half a bottle of pop, put the cap back on and threw it away. Why spend 75 cents if the person is not going to drink something that they bought?

Jesus never told Joseph and Mary to sell what they had, nor did He tell his good friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus to sell their large home where he often stayed. He saw that they were already helping the poor and sharing their possessions. Jesus does call all of us to do some very hard things. For example, He calls all of us to let go of prejudices, to be patient, to take care of the sick. In one of my parishes, I know of two men who were brothers. They had not spoken to each other for 50 years. I cornered one of those fellows and I asked him why he had not spoken to his brother. His reply was that he could not even remember. But the problem was that he said he know he couldn’t talk to him. Well, I buried one of those men – and he never did get around to talking to his brother. So you can see how things can go on and on in your life. And Jesus would say, “Let go of some of those things.”

When Jesus asks us to do something that is difficult, he looks at us with love. As He looked at the young man in today’s gospel with love, He teaches us to share our possessions with the poor. Next Sunday we have the opportunity to share our faith and possessions by giving to the Mission Collection. It is Mission Sunday. A lot of people don’t use their envelopes. The only way to give to Mission Sunday is to use your envelope. When you give to the Missions, you help spread the faith. The Mission Collection is one of the very important collections as it provides for the education of young men to become priests, girls to become sisters, and to educate catechists. Catechists are so important to the education of people; there are hundreds of foreign dioceses that benefit from Mission Sunday. So I ask you to meditate on that this week, to think of how you can help spread the faith, especially in foreign countries where people live in deep poverty. 







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