2017 Homilies (Written)

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Matthew 13:44-52; 7-26-2020 (As Built; Amite #409)

 

  1. Fence, fence, as in standing or walking the fence. In other words, not taking a decision, not making up your mind, being on the fence.
  2.  It's the 1980s. His name is Daryl. Daryl is from Schenectady, New York. He is a New York boy. He's a Catholic new York boy. Now, he's not the poster child for Catholicism, but he is today. Back in the day he'll tell you, man, he said “Life was kind of ups and downs more for me and my family. I had three family members or three sisters and brothers, and as a result,” he said “man, my mom and dad. My dad was a bodybuilder. My mom, she was the quintessential mom.” He'll tell you that, man, no sooner they got started they got divorced, and next thing you know man he's moving to Miami with his other siblings and his mom. He'll tell you, he said “Man, grammar school was okay, but high school there you got to be identified a certain way.” and he said “As much as I liked doing plays, I loved boxing even better.” In high school 27 and 3. He was that good. He decided that he needed the discipline of boxing because it kept him out of trouble- per se- kept him off of drugs and alcohol, but when he did the play called the Serpent in high school, he said “Man, there was just something about it,” and he said but he didn't have the discipline. Well, man, next thing you know he's out of high school and, man, you're good at boxing, and then he said I kept going, and he said then I met one guy who hit me so hard he actually gave me a concussion. He said, man, I’m one step ahead of the law, and everything that happens. He said “I’m losing it, my sister comes to me, gives me $400 and said get to New York. I’m going to introduce you to this one guy who does a little play writing. Maybe you can get on a little stage, a little screen, make some ends meet. He goes to New York City, but you don't make money right away. He's in a show called the Diner, which did okay, and then he decided “Well, man, maybe I should try something else.” and he's still just one step ahead of the law. Finally, his sister contacts him and says “Look, you got to stop walking the fence. You're either going to be an actor, or you can go back to being a fighter, but you're going to have to make up your decision. You can't run both of these.” He said “Well, I need the discipline of the fighting and the boxing.” She goes “No, what you need is the discipline to be a good actor because as soon as you ever got involved you would find out it's every bit as disciplined as the other life.” and man can I tell you, he starts getting in movies bits and pieces here. He did a movie called Once Upon a Time in Mexico. I can see no one here saw it, but that's okay. From that he gets into another movie called Nine and a Half Weeks. From that when he gets in another one called Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man. He gets in another one called the Rainmaker. Then, he's in another one called the Iron Man. He's actually in the little show that comes on called the Expendables with Stallone. You know what's amazing my brother and sisters in Christ? It’s that you know Mickey Rourke, but you would have to actually see what he looks like and then you would recognize him for who he is. You know today if you and I were to ask him “What is the one thing that got you off the fence?” he would tell you “It's my two dogs and my priest named Father Petey.” To this day he is a devout Catholic. Talk about get off the fence.
  3.  That is exactly that gospel. My brothers and sisters in Christ, four times in as many paragraphs the good lord says the kingdom of heaven is like this. My brothers and sisters in Christ, three of the four are parables. Now listen, stop. Make sure you're a first century Jew. You and I now know after being with Christ for three years that whenever he speaks parabolically there's always a twist. Something that doesn't seem logical. That's where he wants you to focus, because that illogical point is what he wants you to focus on. For example, you're walking by a field. You notice that they have a treasure. Instead of just taking the treasure and continue on your way, you decided to take it, go bury, it go sell everything you have, and hopefully buy the field, so you and I know something's not right. Well, obviously the apostles didn't know either because that's why he gives a second parable. He said it's like a man who finds a precious pearl. He sells everything he has- his home, his clothing, his food- so he can buy the one pearl, so that he can buy a bigger home, more clothing, more food. Well, you can't wear the pearl you can't eat it, and you better hope you sell it quickly. That's what the good lord is saying. Listen to what's happening. My brothers and sisters in Christ, what the good lord is saying is you can't steal heaven. You can't buy your way in, so therefore when you find a treasure or a pearl, and to make sure that the apostles understand that you can't steal it, if you and I were there with Christ and we had all this knowledge of living here today, he would say the kingdom of heaven is like a baseball field. If you would like to steal second base, you're going to have to take your foot off of first. You and I would now understand that to get to second, it takes faith, but you're gonna have to act and you're gonna have to walk out your comfort zone. Now the apostles must be understanding. Why? Because the next thing is the kingdom of heaven is like the angels, and when they come they're going to separate the good from the bad. They're not going to say lukewarm are all those who are walking the fence. I’m a part-time Catholic. Oh, I’m a Christian. I worship God in the field, and the duck blind, the deer stand. I worship him on the baseball field. I commune with him. He created nature so you would know he exists by its beauty, but there is only one place where he is physically located. Therefore, to keep holy my day and being that he's the only thing holy, I need to be in front of him. It's so profound that the apostles finally get it, and he says “You think the scribes are important? You think they have knowledge because they know the legal, they know words, they know language.” He said “You will be better than the scribes, for the scribes only know the old testament, but you and I are gonna write the new.” You can't steal second with your foot on first. You're gonna have to get off the fence. 
  4. Now look, go back in scripture. All of our best players or people that made a decision to get off the fence are never to be part of it. They may have been on the other side, but once they planted their flag and crossed over to Catholicism, to Christianity, man, that's where they stayed. Now, for everyone that did that there is a Judas who says “I'ma walk the line with Christ for three years.” Three years you were considered an apostle. The blind see, the lame walk, and the dead rise. Money gets into your craw and you simply can't get away from it. In 48 hours you go from an apostle, and ultimately one day you would have been Saint Judas, to have been better you've never been born. You're the son of perdition. What about Pilate? Is that not the greatest fence walker of our day? I mean, here he is trying to patronize the Jews all the while keep Caesar happy so that I can stay in control, so what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna pull out a bowl and towel and wash my hands. My brothers and sisters in Christ, how many people still do that today, say “Oh man, he's just washing his hands of it.” How many people today use the analogy “Man, he just moves the decimal point. That's where he is. He's waiting for his 30 pieces of silver” but I promise you for every one of those there's another one on the other side. Take Joseph of Arimathea. Do you think that he waited to the very last second to say I’d give up my tomb? Remember, he's from the Sanhedrin. He's a devout Jew. Once he gave up his tomb, he has forever planted his flag. He said look I’m not walking the fence. I may have been a Jew and will always remain a Jew, but I now know him to be the messiah. Within a year he has been called to Rome to justify giving up his tomb to the messiah, so much so according to tradition that when his ship sinks he actually goes to another country and starts a monastery still existing today. That's what it takes to plant your flag and say “I no longer are going to walk the fence. My brothers and sisters in Christ, Longinus. How much courage did it take when this crucifixion is going on, you are paid by Rome, your boss is the quintessential fence walker, for you to turn in the middle of the crucifixion and say “Truly, that man was the son of God.”? You can take your 401k and put it on the side. You can take all the power and prestige of being a follower and being the right hand man of Pilate. What he said was I’m not going to walk the fence. Either he is or he is not, and now that I believe, two years later, do you know that Rome sends a legion after him, and according to tradition they were looking for him in a city? They actually sat down to eat with this man, and as they started to eat and he was feeding all the different soldiers one of them recognized him and said “You're Longinus” and he said “Yes, I am. I’m the one you're looking for.” “Well, we're going to pretend we didn't find you.” “But no you're not, because I’m not going to walk the fence. I’m a believer in Jesus Christ as I made my proclamation.” They beheaded him and took his head back either to Rome or to Pilate. My brothers and sisters in Christ, here you and I sit 2000 years later. You and I need to stop walking that fence on the issues of holy mother church. You're either Catholic, or you are not. There are seven sacraments, or there are not. I’ve already been pretty much every faith there is, if not I have studied it, so therefore if our argument is I believe in the sacraments Father, but confession I go directly to the big guy. Let's make sure we understand what we just said, I don't care what it says in scripture in Leviticus that before the time of Christ there was confession. Christ makes the statement I came to fulfill the law not change it, so therefore I can't change confession. Did you know that in Leviticus you had to confess your sins publicly and based on the animal you bought for the sacrifice they could have pretty much dictated what your sin was? When John the Baptist is in the Jordan, he is baptizing them for the forgiveness of sins. How does Matthew know that if he's not listening to what's being said? My brothers and sisters in Christ, Hebrews 5. “I will choose priests among men for the forgiveness of sins, and no one is to take it upon themselves.” but yet we got the unmitigated gall, and our argument is “Well, God is the only one that can forgive sins.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, that's not the question. The question is does confession need to be said, and it does. It was that way in Leviticus, it was in Hebrews 5,  and in chapter 20 of John. “He'll tell you ‘Go out and heal them and forgive them of your sins.’” My brothers and sisters in Christ, I don't understand the argument. If you and I die on the same day, and the good lord looks at you and says “You know what, you're right. I should have said something 2000 years ago. What the heck, come on in. I’ve been hearing your sins. You know what, you're very forgiving of yourself.” but I digress I’m going to say “Wait a minute I’ve been following your rule book, so if you let him in you got to let me in.” but if he turns to you and says “You knew better, but you chose differently.” then you can walk the fence. Therein lies the point. My brothers and sisters in Christ, how many times do you go to a Baptism and I hear people say “Well father, you know I got to make sure that I can accept Jesus Christ as my lord and savior before I’m baptized.” Stop. John the Baptist is baptized in the womb. That's why the baby leaped at Mary’s greeting when she walked in the house of Elizabeth- first intercessory prayer in the New Testament. Notwithstanding, if you go back to first Peter and he'll tell you that baptism is the new circumcision. Eight days old when you were circumcised as a Jew, that was for the remittance of that original sin. Confirmation is when you stand up on your own two feet and confirm that I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe in the teachings of his church, I believe she was ever virgin, I believe in what was proclaimed in the Apostles Creed. That's why you stand up and make the proclamation of what your parents said was true 15 or 20 years ago. What I can't understand is how you can't understand it, because now you've become the greatest fence walker, because you're saying “Well, I’m not real sure, but are you studying it?” “Well no, I’m working at it.” Well no no no, did you study it, because if you had then you wouldn't be walking backwards because when you stand before him and he asks you “I noticed you never got confirmed.” “Well, I was working on it.” “Well, we're a little late now because you're here, so how am I supposed to assume that you're going to change your mind? Well you're changing your mind because you see me, but you didn't think enough of me during your time.” You forget my brothers and sisters Christ, mercy only lasts up until the day of your judgment. Once you and I pass, there's no mercy. It's only judgment. Mercy takes place while you and I are alive because we have the ability to ask for it. My brothers and sisters in Christ, the sacraments of getting married in the church, do you know why the good lord wants you in front of his tabernacle? Because at the wedding the Cana I stood there. Y'all don't even know the name of the couple   2000 years later, that's how important I’d be there, so if you decide to get married on the beach, on a balcony, in a mountaintop, please understand. Yes, God is omnipresent. That is true, but he's not physically present like he is here. What if he's at the wedding to Cana, but he's there as God? In other words, he's not physically present. Who's taking care of the wine? Who's filling the jars? Who's doing the blessing? Therein lies the point. My brothers and sisters in Christ, how many times do I hear people say “You know, if priests would marry we wouldn't have a pedophile issue.” Wow, how disordered is that? My brothers and sisters in Christ, I can tell you right now. I love mother church with my whole heart my whole mind and my whole soul, and if it hadn't been for his mother, I wouldn't be here to speak to you. You can only have one woman in your life. You bring a family into this equation, and I can promise you you'll never see your priest again because the demands are too great. It is a gift. It's a supernatural gift, and that's why it takes father Howard not so long to go through the seminary, because it takes five or six years for you to make the adjustment that indeed were you called, did you accept the calling, are you willing to live the calling. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you either accept the church for who she is, or you walk the fence. How many times in your life are you walking the fence about what to do with someone in your family? How many times are you walking the fence about whether you should go down this path or the other for work, a relationship, should I move forward over here, should I even buy this house, what about the car? My brothers and sisters in Christ, do me a favor. Go to confession on a consistent basis so the gap between you and God is small. The further you get away from Christ, and you try to discern which way to go, everything is in the way- work, people, relationships, life, the world, the pandemic, the virus, money, rent, the note, everything. You've got to go to confession and close the gap. Remember this, nowhere in scripture did Christ ever baptize anyone, or did he hear their confession. I don't care what your argument is, when Christ wrote the sins of the people, the symbols of the sins on the ground, you notice he didn't call him out and said “Well, Bob that's yours. That's yours John. That's yours Mark, right there just case you missed it.” He just wrote the symbol so that he wouldn't proclaim out loud. What was Mary Magdalene’s answer, if you will? His answer to her was “Go and do not sin again.” He didn't ask her what she was there for, he never once said “Is it true?” My brothers and sisters in Christ, when Peter goes to the good lord and he forgives him, if you will, for his three denials and asking Peter “Do you love me?”, what's Peter's confession? “Well I do love you lord. No, I do. Lord, you know everything.” That's not a confession My brothers and sisters in Christ, Peter later realizes that the forgiveness can only come from Christ. 
  5. My brothers and sisters in Christ, sometimes you and I have to make a decision, and what I’m asking you to do is go to confession, to close that gap. Do it on a consistent basis. Remember proverbs. The average holy person sins seven times a day. Don't go to confession for a month, that's 200. Don't go for a year, that's over two thousand. Don't go for a decade, that's twenty thousand. What type of relationship do you have? My brothers and sisters in Christ, when you receive the Eucharist, it is the Eucharist the body, blood, soul, and divinity. How can you and I jump to the fact that it's a relic, or theory, or conjecture? It’s unbelievable because if God is the word made flesh, and he is, and if the word says this is my body, and he is a fulfillment of what Paul calls the new covenant, and therefore Judas never partook of the meal, he took of the hors d'oeuvre then why is it that you and I are so afraid of it, so much so during the pandemic? Man, we got more rules on how to receive communion. Is it not the body, blood, soul, and divinity of our savior? It either is or it isn't. We can't walk the walk. We can't stand on the fence. Sometimes you and I have to say “Lord, I have gone to confession. I’ve gone to spiritual direction. I have obtained some advice and I’ve gone to adoration, not just what the good lord puts on my heart. You always need somebody with you, usually a priest, so that you can discern what's from the evil one and what's from God, and then said “Lord, I’m going down this path. Block it if you block it, open it if you want, but I feel this is the right decision, and then full forward, go forward.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, remember this. You and I do not have the luxury of waiting. Look at the world around you. Ask yourself, are we going better? Is it going to change? The only time a car runs itself is when it's going downhill. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you got to pick a side. You got to plant your flag. You either believe in mother church, or you do not. You either believe in the sacraments, or you do not. You either believe the Eucharist is true or you do not. You either believe that he is omnipresent and omni-important and all-powerful, or you do not. When you and I go to vote for an election that's coming up, make sure you understand something. Abortion is wrong intrinsically. There's nothing we can do to fix it other than stop it, so when it comes time to vote and I hear people say it “Well I’m just not a- I’m sorry father but I’m just not a one type of guy. In other words, there's many issues.” I tell you what. If you believe God is all-powerful and all-knowing, but you like the economic policy of this one, but he's okay for abortion, you honestly believe God is not the king of supply and demand? That God is not the king of economy, and that because you killed my children I’m going to bless your plans because you got a good way with people, because you have foreign policy? My brothers and sisters in Christ, what will we tell the messiah when he says “I don't want to hear any questions. I got one question. Where are my children?” “Well Lord, work with me here. We got a good plan.” “Where are my children?” “Well, we have choice.” and so you do.
  6.  You have chosen to pick the fence, and I’ll leave you in the words of Johnny Cash. If there is a fence between heaven and hell, the fence will be owned by Satan.
  7.  Amen.

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