Monday, July 22, 2013

Homily - 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 21, 2013

As best I recall, this is what I preached at the 5 pm Mass on Sunday.  I may be condensing a bit from what I actually preached.  Although I didn't mention it in the homily, I chose to preach on this topic because of NFP Awareness Week this week, 7/21-28.

The obvious theme in today's readings is hospitality.  And these readings give us nice and clear examples of what the fruits of hospitality are meant to be. 

In his eagerness to serve the three strangers, Abraham first shows us gratitude.  As St. Paul says, "Name something you have that you have not received."  Everything we have comes to us a gift from God - our very life, our vocations, certainly all of our material possessions.  Abraham understands this.  And he understands that what we have received is meant not only for our own good, but also for the good of others.  And so he is quick to express gratitude to God for his prosperity, by offering food and water and shade to the strangers who come to his tent.

The second fruit of hospitality is fruitfulness.  In receiving the word of the coming birth of his son, NOW, after years of wanting and hoping for the fulfillment of this promise, Abraham receives a fruitful increase to his hospitality.  This is true for us as well, either materially or spiritually.  When we give, we are rewarded even more, in some way.

And Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus shows the third fruit of hospitality, which is contemplation.  Hospitality brings us, like Mary, to His feet, so that we can hear His voice and see His holy face in serving others.

All of us are called by our baptism to practice this kind of hospitality.   God wants us to be grateful for all the gifts He has given us, and to use all them, both for our own good and salvation, and for that of others. God wants us to be materially and spiritually fruitful, in our work and in our prayer, and in every part of our life.  And God really wants us to know Him and to love Him with our whole being. 

Now, contrast this, what the Bible says about hospitality, with what the world says about hospitality.  Everywhere in the world we look, every time we turn on the TV or the internet or the radio or open a magazine, the world tries to tell us how we must be.  And in particular, the world tells us that in place of hospitality, we must have contraception.

Contraception is the opposite of hospitality.  We can see that here, in these readings.  Point by point, contraception contradicts all of the fruits of hospitality.  In place of gratitude, contraception makes us selfish.  Practicing contraception leads us to demand what is meant to be given as the free gift of love.  Of course contraception is the opposite of fruitfulness; and this is just as true of spiritual fruitfulness as of bodily fruitfulness.  And contraception, being a serious sin, never leads us to contemplate the face or the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ in the one we love.

But we know that God is most merciful and forgiving.  He "desires not the death of the sinner."  And He calls us every day to turn away from sin in our life, and seek His forgiveness, and really change and become the holy people He wants us to be.  We know the means of this constant journey of conversion - daily prayer, and the grace of the sacraments, especially of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Every day, every moment, is an opportunity for each of us to hear and respond to His call, to love in a better way, as we follow the example of Jesus Christ and the saints. [I think I had a few more sentences rounding out this exhortation, but I can't remember exactly how I closed.]

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