Deacon Sil's Word For All Fourth Sunday In Ordinary Time (C)
Table of Contents
First Reading (Jeremiah 1: 4-5, 17-19)
Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 71: 1-6, 15-17)
Second Reading (1 Corinthians 12: 31-13: 13)
Gospel (Luke 4: 21-30)
Homily: God Loves Us All
Prayers of the Faithful
Go To the Table of Contents First Reading (Jeremiah 1: 4-5, 17-19)
In the days of Josiah the word of the Lord came to me thus: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. But do you gird your loins; stand up and tell them all that I command you. Be not crushed on their account, as though I would leave you crushed before them; for it is I this day who have made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass, against the whole land: Against Judah's kings and princes, against its priests and people. They will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.
Go To the Table of Contents Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 71: 1-6, 15-17)
Refrain: I will sing of your salvation.
1) In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your justice rescue me, and deliver me; incline your ear to me, and save me. 2) Be my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety, For you are my rock and my fortress. O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked. (Refrain) 3) For you are my hope, O Lord; my trust, O God, from my youth. On you I depend from birth; from my mother's womb you are my strength. (Refrain) 4) My mouth shall declare your justice, day by day your salvation. O God, you have taught me from my youth, and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
Go To the Table of Contents Second Reading (1 Corinthians 12: 31-13: 13)
Set your hearts on the greater gifts. Now I will show you the way which surpasses all the others. If I speak with human tongues and angelic as well, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong, a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and, with full knowledge, comprehend all mysteries, if I have faith great enough to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give everything I have to feed the poor and hand over my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient; love is kind. Love is not jealous, it does not put on airs, it is not snobbish. Love is never rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not prone to anger; neither does it brood over injuries. Love does not rejoice in what is wrong but rejoices with the truth. There is no limit to love's forbearance, to its trust, its hope, its power to endure. Love never fails. Prophecies will cease, tongues will be silent, knowledge will pass away. Our knowledge is imperfect and our prophesying is imperfect. When the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child I used to talk like a child, think like a child, reason like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways aside. Now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. My knowledge is imperfect now; then I shall know even as I am known. There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.
Go To the Table of Contents Gospel (Luke 4: 21-30)
Jesus began speaking in the synagogue: "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." All who were present spoke favorably of him; they marveled at the appealing discourse which came from his lips. They also asked, "Is not this Joseph's son?" He said to them, "You will doubtless quote me the proverb, 'Physician, heal yourself,' and say, 'Do here in your own country the things we have heard you have done in Capernaum.' But in fact," he went on, "no prophet gains acceptance in his native place. Indeed, let me remind you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the heavens remained closed for three and a half years and a great famine spread over the land. It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but to a widow of Zarephath near Sidon. Recall, too, the many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one was cured except Naaman the Syrian."
At these words the whole audience in the synagogue was filled with indignation. They rose up and expelled him from the town, leading him to the brow of the hill on which it was built, and intending to hurl him over the edge. But he went straight through their midst and walked away.
Text from: Lectionary for Mass, Copyright © 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; © 1969, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved.
Go To the Table of Contents Resources
- Days of the Lord, Volume 6, pp. 28-34. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Mn., 1991. - Good News, by Rev. Joseph T. Nolan. Liturgical Publications, Inc., 2875 South James Drive, New Berlin, WI. 53151. - Catechism: #'s 470-478 (How the Son of God is a human person). United States Catholic Conference, Washington, DC: 1994. [As recommended in A Homily Sourcebook (The Universal Catechism), by N. Abeyasingha. The Pastoral Press, Washington, D.C.: 1993.] - The Hymn of Love, the Nature of Christian Love, & the Supremacy of Love. From The Letters to the Corinthians, by William Barclay. Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky. 1975. - Without Honor In His Own Country. From The Gospel of Luke, by William Barclay. Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky. 1975. -Answers to Life's Three Critical Questions (Jeremiah 1: 4-10). From Dynamic Preaching, Seven Worlds Corporation, 310 Simmons Road, Knoxville, Tn. 37922. - The Onlys (Jeremiah 1: 4-10) & Wedding Messages (1 Corinthians 13: 1-13). From Homiletics, by Dr. Leonard Sweet. Communication Resources, 4150 Belden Village Street NW, Suite 400, Canton, Ohio 44799-6115.. - Intent To Kill, from Storytelling the Word by William J. Bausch, pp. 162-165. Twenty-third Publications, Mystic, CT: 1996. - Love Is Not All You Need, from Pulpit Resource by William H. Willimon. Logos Productions, Inc., 6160 Carmen Avenue East, Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076. (Visit their web site at http://www.1logos.com) - The Living Pulpit, 5000 Independence Avenue, Riverdale, NY 10471. (Contact them at their web site at http://www.pulpit.org.)
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It was the Sunday after Christmas and the seven o'clock Mass was beginning. Chilled latecomers hurried up the side steps and the rear seats were filling up with stragglers, who welcomed the warmth of the radiators that backed the last pews.
The assistant pastor had begun the age-old celebration and the parishioners were very quiet, hardly participating. Each was in his or her own world. Christmas was two days ago and it had taken its toll. Even the children were still. It was a time of rest from the season's whirlwind pace, and everyone was content to just sit back and relax. As Father John began his sermon, he looked over a very subdued crowd. He began with a pleasant introduction about the holiday time and its true meaning. Then he carried his sermon a little further and talked about charity and love and being good to others all the time. He said we couldn't go wrong by being kind. It was a talk we had all heard before, and we each felt smugly that we had done our part. Then there was a pause, and Father John added a new thought for his flock to contemplate, and we were startled and roused from our reveries.
He talked about the vagrants, the bums and the homeless that were walking the streets of the city and giving testimony to the new poverty of our time. In quiet tones, he said that they needed care most of all. Some of us squirmed in our seats and exchanged glances. It was obvious we had some reservations about his statements. Most of us were thinking about the influx of wanderers into the city. Vagrants inhabited the parks, the shopping malls and the downtown area. Most of the petty crime seemed to be blamed on them, and they certainly weren't viewed with charity.
Mrs. Scupp was terrified by their looks and grimy appearance. Last week, a dingy stubble-faced man with a blanket wrapped around him had asked her for money. Startled and scared, she had dropped all of her packages as she exclaimed, "No!" He stooped and helped her pick up her gifts. Then she did find some money in her purse and gave it to him. The experience had unnerved her, and now she shuddered at the thought of repeating it.
Joe Walden's puffy face twisted with a grimace. Yeah, sure, he thought. Show these people an inch of kindness and they'll ruin your business. At first, he hadn't complained about the groups playing violins and guitars in front of his store and asking for donations for their entertainment. But prospective buyers were uncomfortable and passed the shop by. His sales had dropped, and he blamed the street people. What was this priest suggesting? He didn't want to know.
Margaret was so horrified by the group down in the grocery store parking lot that she hated to go shopping there, and she cringed at the thought of even being near the homeless. But the store was the closest place to home, so she went at noon when there were plenty of other shoppers.
Al sat back in his pew and was lost in this part of the message. He was deeply involved in reviewing his career as a cop and how it applied to the priest's words. It was his job to round up those that disturbed the peace or interfered with others. The terrible antagonism aroused between the citizens and these wanderers had led to many arrests and "move on" orders. Were they justified? One thought came to mind. Is there a little extra I could do? Al pulled his head into the warmth of his coat, stuck his hands into his pockets and dismissed the thoughts.
The priest continued with the sermon, touching on many sore spots. He ended by asking people to be kinder to the less fortunate, to be fair, and to treat everybody the way Christ would treat them. He left the pulpit to continue Mass, leaving everybody in a ruffled mood.
The Mass continued, and at the same time a noise began to interrupt the solemnity of the occasion. A cross between a groan and a whistle, it sounded again and again. A snicker ran through the church. It was a snore, and a mighty one at that. Anxious looks at the altar proved that Father John was unaffected by the noise, but others were. A lady in front with a big red hat was turning one way and then the other, seeking its originator. Three children were giggling. Their father tried to quiet them and at the same time scanned the congregation. Halfway up the middle aisle, to the right, was a hunched-up figure covered with a blanket - the source of the noise. Each time a chord was struck, the gray covering vibrated as the snore escaped its confines.
The snorer was obviously not a member of the church. Maybe he was one of those wanderers on his way south, or somebody who came in from the cold. Maybe he was a bum. One thing was certain, his snoring was offensive. People coughed nervously and then waited for the next sound.
"Do you think he had a nice Christmas, too, Mommy?" Whispers and hugs identified a little girl in a new pink jacket.
"God loves him too, doesn't he, Mommy?" Another flurry followed as her father, nodding, picked her up in his arms. She rested her chin over his shoulder and was looking at the inert man. The people moved in their seats. This was a member of the poor that the sermon was all about. What an uncomfortable thought!
Father John was saying the final prayers when the little girl spoke to her father in a stage whisper that carried from one end of the church to the other. "Daddy, can't we share our Christmas with him? Can I have some money? I won't wake him up. Promise." There was quiet rustling and
movement as she crossed the aisle and laid some bills on the blanket. Al rose to his feet and did the same. Joe Walden strode up with his offering. As Father John finished the Mass, other bills were dropped on the sleeping figure. He watched Mrs. Scupp gingerly place a five-dollar bill on the gray blanket that was now heaped with money. Margaret met Father John's grin as she left her offering.
It was a strange crowd who greeted Father John after services. The man in the blanket had made an impression, and while few words were said, everyone greeted the priest with a special heartiness. It comes with the satisfaction of giving, he thought privately.
When Father John returned to the empty church and walked up the aisle to the man, he saw the green bills nestled in the folds of the gray blanket. There was more money on the floor around the man. Father John gently shook him. The snoring man raised his head and looked vacantly at the priest for a moment. "Oh, I fell asleep, I guess. What's this?" The money cascaded around him as
he rose and dropped the blanket. The priest looked with surprise into the face of Chris Gregory, a fireman and paramedic he had known for years. "Gee, Father John, I'm awfully sorry." As Chris gently scooped up and counted the wealth, Father John explained what had happened. Then Chris told his story.
His department had received three calls for fires down in the lagoon and along the railroad tracks. He had been out all night. The last call included a girl who was about to give birth. She was one of those who had sought the warmth of a fire that got out of hand. Before she could be taken to the hospital, he delivered her baby, a boy. Chris went to the hospital and stayed longer than he expected. It had been a long night, and he had stopped to make early-morning Mass before going home to sleep.
There was $600 altogether. Father John said, "Suppose we divide it. I'll use my share for the soup kitchen and you take the rest for the new mother. She's going to need it. Now, let's get some breakfast. And fold up that blanket - I don't really think the parishioners want to know who the man in the gray blanket was." (1)
In our gospel passage today, our Lord returns home to Nazareth only to be "ridden out of town on a rail", as the old saying goes. The citizens of his home town knew of his humble beginnings and just couldn't accept that he was the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy which we heard in last week's gospel passage. They looked at him through eyes that were very tempered by their experience. In essence, he couldn't be himself, someone worthy of God's love. He was a victim of prejudice.
In our story, do you know who summarized the priest's sermon in a very few words and changed everyone's attitude towards the stranger? It was that little girl's question to her mother: "God loves him too, doesn't he, Mommy?" This child saw the man as a person worthy of God's love, a truth that no one around her could refute. And their hearts were softened. Leaving church, they felt better about themselves because they had lived the gospel and given of themselves to someone else. They saw another person through the eyes of a child, eyes which knew nothing about stereotypes and prejudice. We, too, need to look at one another through the eyes of a child. We need to accept others for just what we they are: children of God, as equally worthy of God's love as we are.
Go To the Table of Contents References
1. An Inch of Kindness, by Jeanne Williams Carey. (email@example.com.) From Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul, by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Aubery and Nancy Mitchell, pp. 300-304. Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, Fla.: 1997.
(The Prayers of the Faithful below were suggested by Pastoral Patterns, published by World Library Publications, Schiller Park, IL. 60176. Subscriptions at $6 per year may be ordered by calling 1-800-566-6150.)
Go To the Table of Contents Penitential Rite
Lord Jesus, you are our teacher and Savior. Lord, have mercy. Christ Jesus, you are our brother, come as one like us. Christ, have mercy. Lord Jesus, you are God's beloved Son and have made us fellow children of God. Lord, have mercy.
Go To the Table of Contents Prayers of the Faithful
Celebrant: God's only Son became one like us to intercede for us with the Father and to make us all God's children. Therefore, confident that he will hear us, we bring our needs to him.
Deacon/Lector: Our response is "Lord, hear our prayer." That God's message proclaimed in the Scriptures may take root in our hearts, we pray to the Lord. That the peace and justice taught by Jesus may find acceptance throughout the world, we pray to the Lord. That victims of jealousy, discrimination and persecution may be treated with equality, we pray to the Lord. That our ears may be open to the prophets who challenge us to live the Christian way of life, we pray to the Lord. That our parish community may actively work promote peace in our neighborhoods, we pray to the Lord. For all of the intentions which God knows are in our hearts and which we recall in silence. (Pause) For all of these intentions, we pray to the Lord.
Celebrant: Gracious God, inspired by the example of your Son, may we come to accept and love each and every person as we would ourselves and not let our vision be colored by stereotypes or prejudice. We ask this in the name of Christ, your Son and our Lord. Amen.
Deacon Sil Galvan Copyright (Additional resources at http://www.deaconsil.com)