A Homily Within A Homily

'Lost and Found' by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. http://www.GregOlsen.com
“Lost and Found” by Greg Olsen. Used with Permission. http://www.GregOlsen.com

June 26, 2022

Video of Funeral See video of this homily
GOSPEL READING STARTS AT 18:57
HOMILY STARTS AT 21:12

[NOTE: The video for this homily includes some things that add to the power of this homily.]

Reading 1 1 Kings 19:16b, 19-21

The LORD said to Elijah:
“You shall anoint Elisha, son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah,
as prophet to succeed you.”

Elijah set out and came upon Elisha, son of Shaphat,
as he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen;
he was following the twelfth.
Elijah went over to him and threw his cloak over him.
Elisha left the oxen, ran after Elijah, and said,
“Please, let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,
and I will follow you.”
Elijah answered, “Go back!
Have I done anything to you?”
Elisha left him, and taking the yoke of oxen, slaughtered them;
he used the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,
and gave it to his people to eat.
Then Elisha left and followed Elijah as his attendant.

Gospel Luke 9:51-62

When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled,
he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem,
and he sent messengers ahead of him.
On the way they entered a Samaritan village
to prepare for his reception there,
but they would not welcome him
because the destination of his journey was Jerusalem.
When the disciples James and John saw this they asked,
“Lord, do you want us to call down fire from heaven
to consume them?”
Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they journeyed to another village.

As they were proceeding on their journey someone said to him,
“I will follow you wherever you go.”
Jesus answered him,
“Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests,
but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head.”

And to another he said, “Follow me.”
But he replied, “Lord, let me go first and bury my father.”
But he answered him, “Let the dead bury their dead.
But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
And another said, “I will follow you, Lord,
but first let me say farewell to my family at home.”
To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow
and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

So, a quick question. Does this Dalmatic make me look fat? [laughter] Don’t answer that. It’s a rhetorical question. A rhetorical question is a device used by a speaker, not to elicit and answer, but rather, to get to a point.

Today, in the First Reading we hear how Elijah is sent by God to Elisha because God wants Elisha to follow Elijah as prophet of God. And so, Elijah goes out and he finds Elisha out in the fields working, living his life. He’s got 12 oxen pulling the plow, living his life much like those of us who are here right now living our lives.

[Walks over to a pew with an empty seat] Do you mind if I sit here? [Parishioner agrees] This was going to be really embarrassing if you said no. So, today I get an opportunity to look at things from two perspectives. Now, from up there [pointing to the altar] I’ve got Fr Pat with 13 years as a priest, 10 of them as pastor. Sitting beside him is Deacon Pat with 14 years. And as I’m up there looking out, every single time I look out at everyone and my first question in my mind is, “How many of them have answered a call from God? How many of them are involved in ministry?” But, from out here, I look up there and I go “Geez, I got 13 years’ experience. This guy’s got 14 years’ experience. They’ve got all these people right behind them. What can I do? What do they need me to do?” It’s kind of what Elisha found himself with today. Elijah tells him that he needs to come and follow him, so he can train him. But Elisha says, “I will absolutely so whatever it is that you want me to do. I will follow you. BUT first I need to go home and kiss my parents good-bye.” So how does Elijah respond to that? “Go. I haven’t done anything to you. You’re not obligated to me for anything. Go. If that’s what’s important to you, then I tell you, just go.”

What if one Sunday as Father processes up here, he comes up here at the foot of the sanctuary, he reverences the altar, but instead of going up the steps to venerate, he turns around and he looks at you. [looks at a parishioner in a front pew]. And he says, “God had told me that He wants you.” What would you say? What would you do? Don’t answer – it’s a rhetorical question. [laughter] I’m trying to make a point because I think the point is with no forewarning of what the question was going to be, most of us are attached to things of this world. So, most of us are going to be like Elisha. We’re going to say, “Yes. We’ll follow you. BUT I’ve got stuff I’ve got to take care of. I’ve got my beautiful wife that I need to make sure that I go give her a goodbye kiss, so she doesn’t think that suddenly something happened.”

So, it’s important to us, because of our humanity, that we be given an opportunity to resolve things of this world. Elijah says, “That’s not how it works.” So, can take and we can encapsulate this moment and say, “That happened.” The problem is we have the Gospel today. And in the Gospel today we have apostles who are coming to Jesus and saying, “I will follow you. BUT, let me go and bury my father.” And Jesus says, “Nothing is going to change. I don’t care if you go to bury your father, he’s still going to be dead. Nothing’s going to change because you’re there. There’s something greater awaiting. ”

And another says, “I will follow you, BUT first, let me go and tell my parents good-bye. And Jesus says, “You know what? Go. Go take care of your parents. Make that what your life is all about. That is this world. I have something greater, BUT you don’t deserve what it is that I have for you.”

But what makes this particular gospel sad, honestly, is Jesus has, as it’s written, there’s no going back, has resolutely said that He’s going to Jerusalem. And on the way to Jerusalem, He stops at a Samaritan village. Remember the woman at the well? Remember everything that Jesus told her? And how impressed everybody at her village was about Jesus’ knowledge and teaching? They had Him stay with them for several days. And yet, today, they reject Him. Not because He’s changed, not because the message has changed, or anything else. Because of who He is going to be associating with – the Jews. I’m not going to look out here and say that anybody has rejected others because of who they hang out with, the way they dress, the things that they do. What I am going to say is that it’s pretty natural for us to respond in negative ways to people that we don’t really want to associate with. And that’s exactly what happens here today.

And so, Jesus, my heart kind of breaks for Him, because one of the apostles comes up and says “I will follow You wherever You go. And Jesus tells them, “Foxes have dens, the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to rest His head.” He knows what’s going to happen in Jerusalem. None of the rest of them do. But He knows what’s going to happen to Him. And yet, because of His Sacred Heart, He still goes.

St Paul, today, tells us that Jesus knows real freedom. Why? Because of that love. Because of that Sacred Heart. He knows true freedom because true freedom comes through love of others. He says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I would be remiss if I finished this homily without mentioning Friday. Friday something monumental happened. For us, as Catholics, it’s a great, great, thing. And so, we want to celebrate. It’s natural for something – so great a victory – it’s natural for us to want to celebrate. But God doesn’t do anything by accident. Friday, when this decision came down, we were celebrating the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. And in that Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Gospel was The Lost Sheep. His Sacred Heart was pierced over 60 million times since 1973, by law. There are people sitting in here right now who have not lived in the United States where abortion was not okay. So, when this decision comes down the Gospel is Jesus talking to the Pharisees and the Scribes – people who took to their temple all the time, daily, and He says “Of you (the Pharisees and the Scribes), how many of you, if you had one hundred sheep and you lost one, how many of you would not leave the ninety-nine and go in search of that one, out in the wilderness, alone, afraid, no one to protect them…how many of you would not go? And once you find them, you pick them up if you need to, and carry them back to their home. This is where we need to come. Once you get them home, you can celebrate. Brothers and Sisters, Friday for us was a great victory. But for others, they are totally awash. We cannot, according to Jesus, we cannot celebrate while we have brothers and sisters who are lost out there, in the wilderness, hurting. Let’s go and find them. Let’s love them. Let’s bring them home, even if we have to carry them and then, then, we can celebrate.

5 thoughts on “A Homily Within A Homily

      1. No you haven’t but you have my full undivided attention when you decide to tell me 🙂 I too miss our youth. I pray you are doing well…

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Awe….i considered you first!
      Our youth….seems like yesterday…and a life time ago. I only cried on Miranda’s shoulder….more times than I care to remember….lol, yes I crushed hard but Just couldn’t get you to notice me or hang out with me ….funny how I perceived others back then…or even how others perceived me….if only i knew then what life could be…thank God I am still learning. I would love to see you and sit for awhile. I am at a crossroad in my life and would love your insight….im about to finish my 2nd MS degree in Dec so I can teach some college classes online….and…retiring from the State of TX job on Aug 31st…among other things ….

      Like

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