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Saturday, August 03, 2019

Do I love Jesus above all Things?




Homily – Deacon Pat – 18th Sunday Ordinary Time (Year C)

I can remember not too many years ago.

My wife Liz and I had raised all of our children and had just seen off our youngest, Mackenzie, off to college in Chicago.

We had planned for many years that as soon as we were without children in the home, we would try our hand at being fulltime missionaries.

In preparation for moving out of the country we systematically sold and gave away everything we had accumulated over decades of married life.

That process of whittling down all that we owned to less than a dozen boxes, keeping mostly photo albums and some clothing, was quite enlightening.

I wasn’t sure what to expect at the time.

Initially, I thought that parting with my motorcycle, tools, kayaks, fishing gear, weight lift equipment, and the such, would be traumatic, but surprisingly it wasn’t.

Somehow knowing that we were purging everything from our lives to make room for God and releasing the worry that often comes with caring for the “Things in our lives” and often “the associated debt” was actually quite refreshing.

It was on that final day, however, after selling our home, and having packed the few possessions we decided to keep, and then driving away, that a certain peace was revealed, a certain peacefulness that I had never known in my adult life.

Now, not owning much more than what we could carry allowed us to be completely free and present to what and where God was directing us, without distraction.

We experienced for the first-time what life could be like without the pressures and responsibilities that desiring and owning possessions often entails.

To this day I thank God for that opportunity, it changed our life and helped us to see what complete freedom looks and feels like.

A freedom to serve God to the fullest.

In a small way I feel that this experience somehow also relates to today’s message.

And in today’s readings and Gospel there is a message for all of us here today.

The message is clearly that we are to remain focused on our quest for heaven.

It is a call to live a Christ-centered life.

We are urged to focus our attention on heavenly realities more than on earthly shadows.

We are also reminded that we are in a transitory world.

And it is a call to make use of the “things of this world” prudently without losing our ultimate goal.

Because it is only when we make heaven our goal that the full meaning of life can be revealed and realized.

In the first reading of this Weekend it begins with a warning, translated: “Vanity, vanity, the Preacher says vanity…!”

It strikes a reality that most of us have neglected.

However, one day each one of us will come to terms with it.

The Preacher calls us to remember God in all that we do.

He reminds us that there will be an ultimate end to all created things.

He also reminds us that the ultimate goal here on earth is to walk our way straight to heaven.

And in the second reading, it hits the nail on its head.

In it, Saint Paul clearly differentiates true life, that is life lived in Christ, from a life lived outside of Christ.

Without mincing words, he reminds us that we must be heaven bound where Christ is everything.

Saint Paul tells us: 

“Kill everything in you that belongs to only earthly life, fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires, greed, false gods, and never tell each other lies.” 

This call to “kill everything evil” is simply a call to transform our lives, a call to purity of life, and call to remain steadfast.

Many Christians have become so attached to “the things of this world” that we hardly reflect about heaven any more.

This is because so many have come to believe that that heaven is an ancient tale told by the ignorant and believed by fools.

And additionally, in the gospel, Jesus speaks to our hearts just as he did to the man from the crowd: 

“Watch out and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man’s life is not made more secured by what he owns…” 

The pursuit of wealth and the pleasures of this world have so blinded so many of us to the reality that we are only pilgrims here on earth.

Avarice is one of the seven capital sins.

Also known as extreme greed for wealth or material gain.

It is a sin which makes one become like the material good that one seeks.

It is a hidden enemy of every child of God.  

Concerning avarice, Saint Thomas Aquinas says: 

“Temporal goods are subject to man that he may use them according to his needs, not that he should make them his main purpose, or be overly anxious about them.” 

The more we place our hopes on the things of this world, the more we lose sight of heaven.


“Where a man’s wealth is, there is his soul.”

Concluding this message for us here today - Here is a challenge for you and for me,

Let us begin today, right now, to focus our eyes and minds on heavenly things, and not only on the vain things of this world.

Let me say that again –

Let us begin today, right now, to focus our eyes and minds on heavenly things, and not only on the vain things of this world.

(Pause)

There is a saying that: “Real men and women love Jesus, not riches!” 

Indeed, real men and women are those who in spite of their fame, wealth, achievements, etcetera, love Jesus above all things.

Let us honestly and authentically ask ourselves, with all sincerity and humility,

Do I love Jesus, above all things?

Do I love Jesus, above all things?

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