Homily, 27 September 2015, Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
MetadataShow full item record
Homily, 27 September 2015Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary TimeNumbers 11:25-29; Psalms 19:8,10,12-13,14; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:28-43,45,47-48—————“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.”In the Beatitudes Jesus urges us to detach ourselves from things that lead us away from God: attachments to worldly things: possessions, honor, power.—————Detachment from worldly things is an essential disposition for Christian life. It is also a disposition that we struggle to develop because we struggle with contrary dispositions: greed, envy, pride, and other vices.This is the concern of James: some people in his community have an unhealthy attachment to things of the world -- resulting in a disregard for others, particularly for the poor. For the last five Sundays we have been reading from the Letter of James. He has been imploring us to put our faith into action, to move forward against the pull of our worldly tethers.His community, it seems, had particular problems with greed:“Behold, the wages you withheld from the workers who harvested your fields are crying aloud; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts.”The greed of the wealthy in James’ community had obscured the demands of justice -- and James is struggling to call them back to way of the Gospel.—————Wealth, in itself is not an evil. In the hands of a wise steward it can be a instrument for good: • Food and clothing can be given to the poor. • Scholarships can be created for underprivileged children. • Jobs can be created so that parents can care for their families.• Beautiful spaces can be built to provide respite and prayer from the stress and bustle of daily life. • Money can be given to build wells in developing countries, providing drinkable water where it is desperately needed.Many people, over the ages, have cultivated “detachment” in order to serve their neighbors. Perhaps no better example is St. Vincent de Paul:“Our ministry on missions,” wrote St Vincent in the Rules for the Congregation, “could hardly be carried on if we lived in total poverty, since missions are to be given without charge. Nevertheless, we should try to maintain poverty as an ideal and, as far as we can, in practice …Christ himself lived in poverty … and he formed his disciples to live in the same way. In that way, they were freer to combat greed … and to imitate Christ.”Through the efforts of St. Vincent and his collaborators, ten thousand children were rescued from certain death, and hundreds of thousands of poor people received help.—————Today we celebrate the work of Emily McKeone for her efforts to bring improved education and clean drinking water to people in rural Zambia. It is right for us to celebrate people who, through detachment and a spirit of poverty, follow the way of Christ by loving God and neighbor. —————But as St. James has reminded us, we should not delude ourselves: we too must be doers of the Word, demonstrating our faith through our actions.The problem with our attachments lies in the danger of obsession. We can be so caught up in our work and in our pleasures; so enamored by the objects we own or which we desire; so jealous of our time … that when a neighbor, a friend, or even a someone in our family needs us, it becomes a bother … an annoying interruption. Because of our worldly attachments, we don’t see in others the image of God. Rather, we see them as a nuisance, and down deep we wish they would go away.There are so many things we can do if we practice dispositions of detachment, little things that can make a difference: visiting a shut-in, collecting food for the poor, making time to play with our children, comforting a friend, giving financial help to those in need – those both near and far.“Christian spirituality,” says Pope Francis, “proposes an alternative understanding of the quality of life … one capable of deep enjoyment free of obsession with consumption … detached from what we possess … and grateful for the opportunities life affords us.”It is the spirituality of our Pope, it is the spirituality of St. Vincent, for it is the spirituality of Jesus Christ.