2017 Homilies (Written)

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Matthew 11:25-30; 7-5-20 (As Built; Amite #406)

 

  1. Humility, humility. 
  2. It's the 1970s, 1980s. His name is Michael. Michael is a New Jersey boy through and through. Neptune, New Jersey. He would tell you that he's one of five children. His parents had that kind of entrepreneurial spirit. They had their own little cleaner company, clothes, etc. They did a lot with pools, cleaning pools. They also did lunches for children, etc, and they did okay. They will tell you that they had a great family, which is true, very Catholic family. He would tell you, if you were to ask Michael, he would say Grammar school at Mount Carmel was okay. He said high school was problematic. He went to the Academy. He said “You know, when you're five foot tall on a good day, you're not going to do well in sports. If you don't do well in sports, you're not going to do well in school, and if you don't do well in school, you're not going to do well in dating, and then it just goes downhill from there.” As a result of it, he's got to do something, so he gets a big part in a Little Theatre production in school at the academy and it's called St. Francis. He does so good at it, they put him in another play called a Billion Dollar Saint. Man, he's decided, man, this is what I want to do, but when he gets out of high school, I mean there's just there's no demand for high school students in the theater. His sister comes to him, she's a hairdresser, and says “Look, I need you to come work with me.” To make ends meet, he works at the hairdresser, and I got to tell you, he's phenomenal. You ask anybody that went to Michael and he would tell you “Man, he made me feel like a king for the day. Man, he made me feel like I was queen for the week.” He said “Man, he just, man, he always made you feel better. As a matter of fact, man, it almost doubled in the number of clients they had. His sister says “Look, I think we need to add makeup to the repertoire. I'm gonna send you to this little group that does a little theatre and you put the makeup on, and let and just let your personality run.” Michael goes there. He gets so at it and the personality is so great, that they said “Man, we’ve got to get you in the play. Just put him in a production, put him in the background, give them a big part, whatever it may be.” Man, pretty soon Michael starts going from a big part in the background, just a stand in, whatever it may be, and pretty soon he's doing more of that than he is hairdressing. The next thing you know, the lead guy decides he can't make it. At 5 foot tall, you would never make him a lead actor, but they did. Next thing you know, he's in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and then all of a sudden, man, the world began to open up for Michael. Man, he's in a movie called Throw Momma from the Train. Okay, this doesn't look good my brothers and sisters in Christ. He was in Jewel of the Nile. He was in another one, my brothers and sisters in Christ, where he plays with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie Twins. Big hint. Big hint. He played Louie De Palma in Taxi. Man, he played the Penguin in Batman Returns. Okay, for the eight people who know Danny DeVito, God bless you my brothers and sisters in Christ, but here's the height of irony. My brothers and sisters in Christ, he's doing an interview late in life, it could have been more than a year ago, and in an interview he came to him and said “Mr. DeVito,” he said “Oh please, Danny” he said “Danny, I understand you love attorneys.” He said “Stop, never said that. I'm just telling you, I never said I love attorneys. I did say that if you had 500 tourney's at the bottom of ocean, that's a good start. That's what I did say.” He said “But what did you say about love?” He said “When you're willing to put yourself in second place for somebody else, it's the height of humility, and the height of love. That I did say.” 
  3. My brothers and sisters in Christ, that is close to what that gospel really meant. My brothers and sisters in Christ, it’s all about humility. If you are burdened, then take upon you my yoke for I am meek and humble of heart. Now stop, your first century Jew. You know all about the prophets. You know all about scripture. You know Hebrew scripture. You even know that the Messiah is coming. You and I even know in what capacity he is to come, and as a result if you and I were to be in that Gospel reading, and we actually were listening, we actually were watching Christ pray to the Father by himself, you and I are not praying together, we're not learning the Our Father. It's one of the few times that he goes off by himself and the Apostles are watching, and then all of a sudden they hear him. Him and his father are having a conversation, and then you and I recognize something that would have made us back up and say “Did I just hear that? What did you hear? Did you hear that too?” He notices that he's praying with his father on an equal basis. The only time that's been done is in Genesis. You and I just heard that there's a triune God because we remember John making the statement that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, the word is God, and then 33 words into Genesis roughly, and the Spirit blew over the waters. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit at the very beginning to Genesis. When the good Lord gets baptized, the clouds open up, we hear God the Father speak “This is my son. I am well pleased.” and we see a dove descend. Now the Apostles know that there's a triune God. They also have now come to understand that the key to success in the world, success meaning and peace-filled, following and being a disciple of Jesus Christ begins and ends with humility. Now stop, go back to the original gospel that I just read to you. Instead of putting the word yoke out there install the word grace. If you are burdened, take upon my grace for I am meek and humble of heart. If you allow me to give you the grace, you'll carry anything that I give you. I will even help you carry it. You remember reading the poem, right, the one about the footsteps, where all of a sudden you see these footsteps there were two sets of steps and all sudden there's one and then the guy is lamenting to God “Where were you when I was in trouble? Where were you when my world was collapsing? Where were you when my family fractured and I lost my job? Where were you when I just felt everybody had betrayed me? I only see one set of footsteps.” and only as the good Lord can respond “My child, it is then when I carried you. Those footsteps are mine.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, he's saying that if you remain humble, I will give you the grace to carry whatever I send your way. I will never send you across you can't carry, provided, provided you accept the grace from me to allow me to be a Simon. My father sent me a Simon, and I'm going to send you one, and guess what. Someday you're gonna be the Simon, and you're gonna have to fulfill that obligation just like I fulfilled it for you, and I will give you the grace. 
  4. Now think, go back in Scripture. There are two great players, more than that but two specifically, that all of a sudden had the height of humility. John the Baptist. What you don't know about John the Baptist is that his parents died fairly young. When they say he's in the wilderness, my brothers and sisters in Christ, they just didn't cut a child loose and say good luck to you, wait for the guy that comes. That's him. He's actually in school. He's at what they call an Essene Jew, very strict. That means they can't shave, that's why you see him as he is, that they have to live on next to nothing, and that if they ever leave the compound, if you will, as he did to go wait for Christ, you can only eat of the land. The point I'm trying to make to you is every time somebody came to him to try to get him to blow his ego up, he was really quick to say “No, I'm sorry. I am NOT.” “But you're a prophet.” “I am NOT” “Well wait a minute, you're the Messiah.” “I am NOT” He's using the I am to get him to focus, and that he's making sure he proclaims the word not. Remember what the good Lord said there was nobody born of a woman greater than John the Baptist. If anybody had the right to blow their own horn, it would have been that man. At the end of the day, he's beheaded. Let me tell you how humble this guy is. When he's in prison, you remember the story that he had two followers of his, just like some of the apostles were followers of John the Baptist until Christ comes. He had two followers, and while he's in prison he says “Go to Christ and ask him ‘Are you the one or is somebody else coming?’” John is not asking on his behalf. Remember, John is baptized in the womb. That's why he dances in Elizabeth's womb. He recognizes not only Mary, but the Messiah in her womb. So much for being baptized when you accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. When John the Baptist is baptized in the womb, it's the removal of original sin. Zoe, life eternal. My brothers and sisters in Christ, he's not sending those two people to Christ so they can come back and say “Yeah John, I know you're about to lose your head over this. Good call.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, he's sending them to him so that they can ask, and what does Christ say? “Lord, are you the one or is somebody else coming?” “Okay, go back and tell John, if you will, that the blind see, the lame walk, and the dead rise.” They need to be first hand witnesses because when John is gone, they need to be able to stand up in front of people instead of saying “Well John the Baptist told me.” “I saw the dead man come. I saw the blind man who had dry sockets now see. I saw the man who had no pupils. He was seeing. He was born that way. I saw the dead rise.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, you know who's also a great player in humility? John the Apostle. You're John the Apostle. All of a sudden the day of the crucifixion has come. All your buddies are gone. Even the most dominant, Peter, is gone. All of a sudden, you got to take Mary and Mary Magdalene and a few others, and you got to follow Christ. You actually believe that John followed Christ along with the Blessed Mother and Mary Magdalene that not one person yelled at him, not one person cursed him, not one person pushed him or spit on him, you think they just let him walk by amicably. He's a follower of the Christ. My brothers and sisters in Christ, he followed Christ for one mile. He watched him carry across twelve foot tall, eight-foot-wide. They watched him get scourge over 1,000 times. They watched him put a crown of thorns on his head, which gave him over 200 wounds, 20 were legitimate holes, 3 would have killed him whether they beat him or not, and then they finally lay him on the cross with 8-inch nails in his hand, and according to tradition a 16 inch spike in his feet, which they had to take back out and redo to make sure it worked. This is the John that stood by the crucifixion all the way through. If anybody has the right to plant their flag, it's John, and now you're John and it's Easter Sunday. Mary Magdalene comes running in “You're not gonna believe this, I'm telling you. I was just in that grotto and I'm telling you he's risen. The stone has moved. I actually got to hug him and grasp him. I'm telling you he's not there.” John immediately gets up and begins to run. Peter begins to follow him. John runs so fast that he gets to the tomb early, and you know what he does when he gets to the tomb? Before he walks in the door he stops, and he waits for Peter. That is the height of humility, because he knows Peter is Protos, that Peters always mentioned first and Judas is last. He knows Peter is the first vicar. He's the only one to receive the keys. He's the only one to receive a name change. He's the only one that ever debated with the Pharisees. He's the first to baptize. My brothers and sisters in Christ, that is the height of humility. Have you ever read John's Gospel? Everybody said “Oh man, he's so prideful. He's always saying the one that Jesus loved, the Beloved Disciple.” He's trying not to use his name. He's actually writing it in third person so that it doesn't draw attention to him. That is the height of humility. 
  5. Well, now here you and I sit 2000 years later. How humble are you and I? Well, let's see. Are you humble enough that when you're at work, whether it's your job description or not, irrelevant that you would help clean up around the office, sweep the floors, set the coffee, leave, come back to get your cup of coffee, they've already drank it and nobody filled it back up, now, you’ve got to clean it and do it without one complaint. Your boss comes in and asks you to do something which you know darn good and well that it's not on your radar, but you do it anyway. When you start to head home, you get that phone call “Can you stop and pick something up?” and you've had a diabolical day. Absolutely, you go and do what is necessary. Are you humble enough, my brothers and sisters in Christ, that when you get into a discussion with your spouse that you simply refuse to make it personal? Are you humble enough to say you're sorry even though it's not your fault? Are you willing to let the other person win the argument because somebody is keeping score? No, you don't understand father. “I got to have the last word. You don't understand. I was right, they were wrong.” I can tell you there's somebody keeping score, and it's not going to be you and I. The problem is it's gonna be him. At the end of the day, are you humble enough to walk away from an argument because it's just simply irrelevant? Are you willing not to use a curse word, my brothers and sisters in Christ, just because somebody else uses it? Are you humble enough to take a beating and make the sign of the Cross in public, and get the looks and the stares and the dismisses of people? Are you humble enough, brothers and sisters in Christ, to pray for the person by the mere fact of their presence causes you to spit? Lord I'll pray for him, but I'm not forgiving them, and let me tell you, you're the only one that's gonna suffer from that problem. At the end of the day, if you're not willing to forgive and walk away, and you don't allow it to let it go by the wayside, I promise you, if you're not at the point of praying for somebody else- the one that has done you harm- then it's gonna wear you out to a point that it just consumes your thoughts, your anger. They've already moved on. The only person that's burning the day is you, it's me. My brothers and sisters in Christ, are you humble enough to be able to agree to disagree without the volume of your voice getting louder? Are you able to say no thank you, I don't want that extra drink, no thank you, I don't want that, I'm gonna have to pass, I'm fasting today I can't have that? You know our church doesn't teach that. I'm sorry, I will not be able to participate. Are you humble enough, my brothers and sisters in Christ, to be ridiculed, and joked, and belittled, and condemned to a point that the only thing that matters is that you're a child of God? 
  6. My brothers and sisters in Christ, I wish I had the memory and the intellect to memorize this prayer. Humility. Lord delivers me from the desire of wanting to be loved, from the desire of wanting to be extolled. Deliver me Lord from the desire of wanting to be approved or preferred. Deliver me Lord from the desire of getting to a point where they won't consult me. Deliver me from the desire of always wanting to be praised, and when that is done Lord, give me the desire to remove the fear of always being humiliated. Remove the fear of being despised. Remove the fear of being wronged or suspected. Remove the fear of being forgotten, rebuked, or calumniated. Lord, give me the ability to be less as they grow more. Give me the desire to be forgotten while they are extolled. Give me the desire, Lord, to be beaten and rebuked, belittled and condemned, but whatever you do Lord, never let me forget that I'm a child of yours. 
  7. Amen.

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