Sunday, November 8, 2009  You donít have to be kneeling down to lift your mind to God!

Homily, Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fr. Ed Oen, C.PP.S.

Recently, I read a story about an emotionally disturbed woman who boarded a bus in Milwaukee. She was barefoot. People on the bus either made fun of her or ignored her. A 15-year old boy felt sorry for her. As he got off the bus, he handed her his new pair of sneakers. He quickly disappeared down the street. The bus driver was so touched that he drove his car to this neighborhood after work to look for the boy. He found him boy playing football in an abandoned lot. He was wearing an old, beat up pair of sneakers.  The man learned that the boy was from a low-income family. He had worked and saved his money for three months to purchase his new shoes.  He gave away those prize sneakers.

In the First Reading and in the gospel, we saw similar examples of generous people, giving with love in their hearts.  In today’s First Reading, the widow from Zarephath gave her last bit of food to Elijah.  Elijah had been living along the Jordan River and with no rain for a year, the area was in an extreme drought. So he moved on to a foreign land, Zarephath. When Elijah saw the woman, he called out, "Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink."  She left to get it, and he called out after her, "Please bring along a bit of bread."

She answered, "As the LORD, your God, lives, I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar and a little oil in my jug.”  Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid.  Go and do as you propose. Make a little cake and bring it to me. Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.”  The jar of flower did not go empty or the jug of oil run out until the famine was over. And so it was that this widow was rewarded for her kindness.

In the gospel, Jesus is upset with a widow who donated to the upkeep of the temple rather than taking care of her family. Before this, Jesus had been teach to the crowds; he said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes, and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation."

Jesus was talking about people who would give their last penny to the institution. Instead, Jesus would say that people come first – you have to take care of your family.

These readings remind us to give of ourselves to others. That’s what it means to be a follower of Christ. God has been generous to all of us. God gives us time, talent and treasure.

In regards to time, God gives us 24 hours a day. How much time do we give back in prayer? Do we start and end the day with a prayer? Perhaps you are rushed to get the family around in the morning and you have to drive to a job. Driving in a car is a great place to pray.  When I was serving in North Dakota, I had three small parishes, covering some 900 square miles. One day I asked a parishioner where she lived. She gave instruction that it was five miles south and then turn left and drive for one Rosary and then turn. She measured that distance in the time it took her to recite a Rosary. She had found a way to pray. Farmers can do this too. When you are going about your work – you can thank God for the good yields.  You don’t have to be kneeling down to lift your mind to God!  A friend of my father’s, Rev. Vernon, ministered until he was 93. He’s still living and is 98 and is the oldest priest in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. As an example of prayer, when he passed a cemetery, he would take his hat off and say, “May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.” He is a very holy man and is still very active, even in retirement.

In regards to talents, we are to use them to make a living, but also to share with others. Perhaps it is something as simple as helping someone in a nursing home to write a letter. We should also write to our Congressmen to make sure that no public funding is used for abortion in the new health bill. Another group of people that has talents and that is using those talents to help others.  It is ‘Doctors without Borders’ who provide health services to those in large cities on weekends. Many people do not have health insurance; there are many people who do not visit a dentist in five or more years. The “Doctors without Borders’ are people who are using their talents to help others.  It can also be “Farmers without Borders’ as they haul hay to areas of drought, or neighbors work to harvest someone’s crops because they are unable to.  Or, it could be just hauling someone to town; there are all sorts of ways we can help others.

In regard to treasures, we are asked to give to the church or to some charity.  In two weeks, we will have the collection for the “Campaign for Human Development.”  This is a very creative program that helps people to be able to help themselves. It is good to give to other programs, such as the Salvation Army.

Here at Mass today, we thank God for the time, the talents and the treasures that we have been blessed with. We ask the Lord to help us use our time and talents and treasures to provide help to others.





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