2017 Homilies (Written)

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Matthew 18:15-20; 9-6-2020 (As Built; Amite #415)

  1. Listen, as in to just listen. I know you may hear it, but the question is are we listening. 
  2. The year is about 1835. Mr. Alexander is worried. He has reason to be. He has been when our country became a country. He has been through the wars, even that of 1812, but now he's concerned about a recession. He's concerned about a depression. He's worried about his two daughters. They have come to him and they have told Mr. Alexander “Man, we feel the country is about to slide.” He said “It is,” he said “our president Mr. Martin van Burren who he affectionately referred to as Martin van ruin. Whatever he touches it gets ruined.” He said “Well, I need to speak to your two husbands, William and James.” He brings them together and he says “Look, I am not only concerned about my daughters, I am concerned about you and your well-being.” He said “I do understand that you are both entrepreneurial type guys and you have your own business. One of you, William if you will, makes candles. James, you make soap, but here's the problem. Our country is going to go through a recession. It's going to be grave. We haven't recovered from the war. As a result of such, animal fat is dominant in our time of which you make candles and you, James, make soap. I’m going to ask you to combine your services. It'll be about $3,500 each so that y'all can learn to work together. You will not survive just on candles and just on soap, but you may survive together. I just need you to listen.” At the end of the day, he's convinced them. $3,500 each they have combined. They have started to do well. The recession hits, the depression follows. Man, the country is on its heels, albeit it's only the 1830s. As a result, man, they're starving to make ends meet, but they survive. On their way out, as a result of it to grab a quick bite to return to work, they decided just happenstance. They left the machine that makes the soap running. They leave it running. As a result of such, and coming back in, next thing they notice, it's put so much air into the soap that it begins to float, but yes, that's right, and you do know that soap. It's the soap that we've made a commercial that it's 99 point whatever percent pure. You and I call it ivory soap. You know it's amazing, my brothers and sisters in Christ? It's not because of an accident, per se, that their company now begins to flourish. It becomes one of the most dominant companies in the world today. As a matter of fact, at one time they did so many commercials doing these little drama shows during the mornings and afternoons that they now became soap operas. Yes, you know William and James. You know him as William Proctor and James Gamble, as Procter and Gamble, all because they listened long ago to their father-in-law Mr. Alexander. 
  3. That is exactly that gospel. Three to four times the good lord uses the word you're not listening. Now stop, he says if you are listening, then they will understand. If people don't listen then, you need to get two or three in their name. If they still don't listen, then you are to go to the church. Now remember, you are a first century Jew. You know exactly the conversation. The good lord is speaking only to the twelve. My brothers and sisters in Christ, he has just made Peter the rock. He has just told Peter that not only are you the rock, but he's now called him Satan, and then not only did he call him Satan, but he called him a stumbling stone. Scandalon in Greek. My brothers and sisters in Christ, Peter is going from the height of height of keys and his name change to being called Satan, to a stumbling stone, and now he's telling them that when two or three of you gathered in their name, whatever y'all decide for the church is how it will be in heaven and on earth. He didn't say that's how it will be on earth and subsequently in heaven. He did just the opposite. He said it to be this way in heaven and subsequently that way on the earth. He's telling them you better make sure and listen. Now remember, Matthew is a devout Jew. Matthew is a Roman citizen. He is a tax collector. That means he knows several languages, he understands money, he also has a lot of it. As a result of it, the Jews don't like him because he collects money from the Jews. The Romans don't like him because he's probably wealthier than most of the centurions and governors of their day, but one thing there is about Matthew that nobody speaks to is that he was pretty straightforward. He would not charge somebody more than others just because. My brothers and sisters in Christ, whenever you read Matthew’s gospel, he's all about the facts. You and I know him as a Jew. We've run across him at the tax table, we've met him out when he's talking to the Jews, we met him when he's speaking to the Romans, we may have even been by his house. When he speaks, he is all about the facts. It's this, it costs you this. You do that, it's going to be this. That's the law, that's what the Jews believe. If you look at his gospel, five times he breaks the gospel up. He talks about the sermon on the mount, he talks about the apostles, he talks about parables and how Christ explained it, and now he's using the word ekklesia. In Greek he's referring to the church. Listen to me, he's talking about a place. To a Jew you and I would have said he either means the temple or wherever the people gather. One or the other. He's now talking about Christ in his church, so that wherever I am you must also be. My brothers and sisters in Christ, he's telling them you better listen to me because you are the church and therefore whatever you bind, he's telling the apostles this, now remember only Peter got the keys. There is a difference, but they now have the full authority of the church so that James, and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Simon, and Thaddeus, and you too Matthias, and you too James the lesser. My brothers and sisters in Christ, he's telling them you need to listen because whatever you tie down is how it will be. 
  4. My brothers and sisters in Christ, go back in scripture. All of our best players know how to listen. What would it have been like if Noah had turned and said “Man, build a boat? Man you're talking a year, years. There's not a cloud in the sky.” What if Noah just simply refused to listen? What if the blessed mother, albeit at the age of 14, “Man, I’m sorry angel. I hear what you have to say. That's beyond me.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, what if the good thief, Dismas, in his heart of hearts does not listen to what the good lord is talking to him internally? Man, they're about to break his shin so that he will suffocate, and when everybody's around and everybody's listening he proclaims out loud “Lord, just remember me. Have a thought of me. Just have a glimpse of me. A recollection.” He is seconds before he loses his life. He will go into convulsions and lose his mind and his thoughts, but he makes one proclamation because he listened in his heart of hearts that that truly had to be the son of God. My brothers and sisters in Christ, it had to impact Longinus because no sooner than he passes, Longinus makes the proclamation “Truly that man is the son of God.” Rome was listening too. It cost him his job, his retirement, his money, and his prestige, and within two years he'll be beheaded by the same men that followed him into battle as they track him down to return his head back to Pilate. My brothers and sisters in Christ, but for everyone who listens, there's always somebody that just fails to understand. Pilate, if he had just listened to his wife and let that man go. “He's a holy man. I’ve had dreams of him. I’ve had nightmares. Do not pass judgment on him.” Did he honestly believe that pulling out a bowl and towel and washing your hands and you're exonerated when you could have let him go, and for decades and years the blind will see, and the lame will walk, and the dead will rise, but yet he refused to listen. My brothers and sisters in Christ, what about the other three, Gestas? When he's on the cross and the good thief says “Remember me Lord.” instead of complaining and saying if you're a God, get down, and bring me down with you. Man, what has he got to lose? He's going to die in seconds. Why wouldn't he just stand up and say “Man, I’m a gambling man. Yes, Lord, so be it. Remember me too.“ He refused to listen to a guy he had been in crime with for over 40 years. They have butchered and murdered people at the drop of a hat. You know what's amazing, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is that those two thieves actually met Christ 30 years earlier according to Saint Augustine and Saint Anselm. That's right, when Joseph gets the word to take Mary and her son and flee, the only place to go is through the desert. If you go by water, it's expensive, it's public. If you go by the desert, the chances of being seen are nominal except by the thief that controls the desert. Dismas made his dad look like a boy scout. According to the church fathers, they do cross paths. Christ is two years old. He's still Christ, and when they meet Dismas tells Gestas, the bad thief if you will, “We need to let this one go. Look at him, if God could come down that's how he would look. Have you seen a more beautiful child? Let's let him go.” and then he says to Christ “Remember me this day should our paths ever cross.” The bad thief wasn't listening then. He asked for 40 pieces of silver of which his buddy paid him to allow them to go through, and now the crucifixion seconds before his death one more opportunity to proclaim Christ the savior of the world and he stiff arms it. 
  5. My brothers and sisters in Christ, here you and I sit 2,000 years later. How good of a listener are you and I? My brothers and sisters in Christ, do you and I listen when the church speaks? Do we? Well, let's see. When the good lord in his church speaks about going to confession, When's the last time you've been? The church tells us in proverbs that the average holy person, I’m not saying you're not holy, sins seven times a day. Don't go to confession for a month, that's over 200 sins. Don't go for a year, it's almost 2,400 sins. What type of relationship you have with anybody, much less God, with over 200 sins on your soul? My brothers and sisters in Christ, tell me, in scripture where does it say I can go directly to Jesus Christ and I can bypass the law that you put into fact? Hebrews 5 “I will choose priests among men for the forgiveness of sins. No one is to take it upon themselves” yet how many times do I hear “No, I- I’m just going to the big guy.”? Well, that's novel, however how many confessions did the good lord hear while he was on earth scripturally? None. How many baptized? None, but yet we no longer want to listen because we know better. Saint John in the gospel “Go out and heal them and forgive them of their sins.” Saint Paul to the Corinthians “Reconciliation has been given to us.” What I don't understand is why it's so hard to just listen and do it? I don't care if you priest-shop, I don't care if you cherry-pick, seven times a day if you've been over 30 days, how much further will you wait? Do you curse more, are you moody or temperamental, are you angry? Then I can tell you you're too far removed. Do you listen to the church when she talks to you about making sure you go to mass and making sure you receive the Eucharist? My brothers and sisters in Christ, I understand what's going on in the world, but at some point you and I need to receive the Eucharist. It's the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. It is not a relic, it's not theory, it's not conjecture. That's a lie and stop buying it. You know it's the truth. I can feel it, and don't tell me you can't either. That's why you come here. Wherever he is, we must be. This is his home and we must receive him. We go nowhere without him. My brothers and sisters in Christ, are you listening to the church when they say you need to get the marriage annulled because that's not catholic answers to divorce, it's the church's way of rectifying what was a natural marriage? Men and women get married all the time in a sacramental marriage, one that got married in the church under the right pretext. My brothers and sisters in Christ, are you listening to the church when she speaks not just about the Eucharist, but about the anointing of the sick, about getting your child baptized? Do you want your child to have eternal life? Yes or no? They had to circumcise at eight days old. Peter told you and I in 1 Peter baptism is the new circumcision. They circumcise to be blessed in the removal of the sin, so therefore why do you wait to be baptized? So that you can acknowledge Christ but yet you carry the sin of Adam and Eve? My brothers and sisters in Christ, think for a second, do you listen to one another when they speak? Look in the world today, let me ask you, rhetorically, when you sit down to visit with somebody and they begin to talk are you listening? Let's see, when your phone dings do you pick it up in the middle of the conversation to return a text? My brothers and sisters in Christ, are you on the phone already and responding to a text that somebody sends you in the middle of the conversation? You can't be listening. When you sit at the dinner table or have a cup of coffee and that phone dings, fo you pick it up to read it even though they're sitting right across from you? What do you think the message is to that person that they just set upon you? Just fit me in when you can? Catch every other word.? Oh, I get it. You're multitasking. You're a poor juggler. Stop it. Sit at the table with your family and friends and give them your undivided attention, and when they come to you with an issue, will you do me the favor and just listen? Don't jump in and speak over them. Don't jump in and tell them how to fix it, or tell them “Man, you think this is bad, wait till this part happens.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, how well do you and I listen? When you want to hear what Christ has to say to you and I, turn off your radios, turn off your cell phones, turn off your television. Remember, Moses and Elijah only hear Christ speak in the quiet. Every time Christ wanted to speak to his father in heaven, he would go to the mountains to pray so that he could be alone. How much time do you spend in adoration? I don't care if it's five minutes, I don't care if you go in genuflect and leave. All I’m saying is it's directly proportional to the peace in your life. You want peace in your life? Then learn to listen. The only way you can learn to listen is to give him time, and the only way that you'll give him time is that you must go to his house or wherever he's present. You can't have it both ways. You can't pray the rosary in front of the television, are you kidding me? My brothers and sisters in Christ, you need to understand the church is true. You need to understand that her teachings regardless of the inequities of those that are in control of the church doesn't change the authenticity of the holy mother church. At the end of the day, she is true and the Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives. My brothers and sisters in Christ, I am begging you to start to listen to what the church has been talking to you about our teachings. I need you to begin to listen to what people say on whether it's for the election or being said on television. I need you to start to listen for the truth, and if you somehow or another believe that killing our children is in any way acceptable to our savior, oh my God, then you're disordered and you are lost. I don't want to hear the argument that “I’m more than a one issue person.” What other issue is there? Oh please, you're gonna tell me it's okay to kill my children and in the same mouth tell me health care? You're telling me you're gonna kill my children, but I got a great economic plan? I’m the God of economics, I’m the God of supply and demand. Did I not tell Peter you need coins for taxes? The first fish you catch, take the coins and go pay. Peter opens the fish, pulls out not one but two. Peter says “I don't need the second one.” He says “Pay for me.” So now I need to understand why he's got it, they understand well I just don't like what he does or I don't like this. My brothers and sisters in Christ, we go nowhere without Christ. He is everything. He is in every thought, every action, every word that we do. He knows your thoughts before you think them. He knows how you drive, how you respond, how you get up, how you lay down, he knows your prayers and your intention. He understands every thought, so how is it that you and I simply refuse to listen? My brothers and sisters in Christ, I’m begging you. The fight in this world has nothing to do with a donkey, very little to do with an elephant, and everything to do with the lamb. Listen to me, you're either a follower of Jesus Christ in his church or you are not. The cafeteria is closed. It's time for you and I to make our bed and it will be made as you and I leave it. 
  6. I’ll leave you with the words of Martin Luther King. “I have found it true, I have found it true that I will not teach myself anything, I will not teach myself anything as long as I’m speaking. If I want to learn anything, then I must remain silent and learn to listen.” She's true. She's always been true. It's now you in time for you and I now to plant our flag. 
  7. Amen.

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