2017 Homilies (Written)

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Matthew 22:1-14; 10-11-2020 (As Built; Amite #420)

  1. Helping hands, helping hands. 
  2. The year is 1970. His name, his name is Jeff. Jeff is a California boy, kind of California through and through. He lives in a little city called Concord. His mom works for the hospital, his dad is kind of a short order cook. He is one of four, and if you were to ask him “Jeff, tell me about your family.” He’d say “Well, we're a little disordered, a little disoriented.” he said “My parents got divorced way early,” and he said “man, by the age of 10, I’d actually lived in 10 different households.” he said “So man, I was a little, just, disordered.” He said “By the time I get to high school, my dad is remarried so I have half-brothers and half-sisters, if you will,” and he says “but high school,” he said “Man, high school was tumultuous.” If you were to ask him “Jeff, I’ll tell you what, in 10 words or less describe yourself.” Jeff would say “I was a loner, I was a geek, but not a computer geek, I was just a geek. I didn't even have the privilege of being a computer geek.” He would say that he said “Man, I was so shy, it was scary how shy I was.” To a point he said “Man, I just didn't want to be around people, I didn't know how to converse,” he said “I was the introvert's introvert.” he said “So going through high school, can you imagine?” And then he meets a guy by the name of Mr. Farnsworth, the head of the theater. He said if there is one guy in my life that gave me a helping hand, no strings attached, he said it's Farnsworth. He said, man, he says why don't you come with me and be in the theater. He said I started laughing. “You want me, the introvert’s introvert, to be in a theater? I don't like being around people, I’m afraid of my own shadow, I just can't handle the pressure.” He said “You know what's great, Jeff, about being on the stage, you can be anything you want to be. Are you a good athlete?” He said “Oh, absolutely not.” He said “You can be in the theater.” he said “You want to be a great orator, a great speaker?” He said “Man, who wouldn't” He said “Man, you can be in the theater. he said “Man, you want to be head of the student body? You can be here. You want to be a brainiac?” he said “Man, you can be it here.” He convinces him to get in a play called the Pacific. He does well with it, so much so when he finally graduates, he goes to a university, and I got to tell you he doesn't last long, and he ends up having to go to the Great Lakes Academy. However, I will tell you this. According to Time Magazine and Forbes Magazine, Jeff is one of the top 10 college dropouts of all times. As a result of it, he gets in a little couple big pieces, and he gets a big piece in a show called Bosom Buddies. Okay, I’m going to die a miserable death, I can just feel it coming. As a result of it, man, next thing you know he gets another big part in a movie called the Money Pit. He was in another show called Dragnet, Turner and Hooch, okay, I didn't memorize a thousand of these. Then, all of a sudden, let me tell you how good of an actor he is, let me just help you. He's so good of an actor, he got you and I to shed tears over the losing of a soccer ball named Wilson. Thank you Lord for what has now fallen upon this congregation. Man, he is the one that said “There's no crying in baseball.” “Life is a box of chocolates.” Man, he's in Apollo 13, he's on the Green Mile. I mean, my brothers and sisters in Christ, Saving Private Ryan, and you know him as Tom Hanks, Jeff would have been his middle name, all because somebody gives him a helping hand. 
  3. That is that gospel. Now listen, the good lord makes the statement in the parable where the king walks into the wedding banquet and says “How can it be that you entered here without a wedding garment?” Now listen, what he was saying is how could you have entered here and not have helped anyone and no works of charity. How is it you entered here without giving anybody a helping hand. Now let me explain how he gets there. Go back, you're a first century Jew. Every time somebody mentions a wedding banquet, they're talking about the wedding and the banquet of making it into heaven after the final judgment, so remember now, he has been in the temple in Jerusalem, he just ran all the money changers out, he's turned over the tables, he's turned over the stools of the people selling doves, and now he was about to ask them about John the Baptist because the Pharisees and Sadducees have gathered. Let's face it, there's a big commotion right before he speaks, and he's talking to them, and they come to him and say remember, there's no second hand team player here, these are all the best of the best. This is the high ranking Pharisee, the high ranking Sadducee, the high ranking zealot, and now they want to know by what authority did you run all this through, turn over our tables, run out our animals, so who might you be to have such authority? So he asked them this question, when John the Baptist was here baptizing, did he do so in the name of God or man? So they started to think, if we say God then they get then he's going to say “Well, he said I was the messiah, so therefore I must be. If you say man, people are going to get upset because they believe I’m a little more than just a prophet, so they don't say anything, and now my brothers and sisters in Christ, he's got to come up with another parable, hence the parable about the wedding feast in the kingdom. Think about it, my brothers and sisters in Christ, remember they know Isaiah, they know it by heart, they know it in their head, so for him to give the story yet again of a wedding feast is telling them “Man, I’m talking about final judgment. I invited you to come, but y'all aren't coming, and then when you don't come, you'll never be able to make it.” Now stop. My brothers and sisters in Christ, as a first century Jew they know that he's now talking about final judgment and entering the temple in the kingdom of God, for the big banquet as you enter. My brothers and sisters in Christ, for you and I, whenever you hear a parable look for the twist, something that it just doesn't seem to fit. You're having a wedding, your family, your daughter, your son, your spouse, whatever it may be, can you imagine setting out wedding invitations? Of course people are going to say they can come and they can't come, I can't, I’m busy, I got this. You're going to send out another set to the same group of people and then those people are going to beat up the mailman to a point they'll probably kill him or the servant that brought the mail, and then all of a sudden you're going to get so mad, you're going to send troops over their house to kill them all. There's the twist. I mean, that's a wedding just short of the pearly gates. That's this point. If you focus on what I’m telling you as a devout Jew, then you know I’m talking about the wedding feast, the wedding banquet of finally being able to enter my kingdom. My brothers and sisters in Christ, listen for a second. The reason why he's explaining to the man when he sends out people and they don't come, then the king comes in and says go out and get everybody in the streets, the poor, the homeless, those that have no clothes and barely enough money to survive, bring them in, so when he comes walking through the heavenly banquet, he sees somebody not wearing a wedding garment. He is not talking about the cloth. They're poor, they barely have enough clothes to keep on them, so why would he go up to someone who has nothing and say “How did you get in here wearing that wedding garment?” What he's saying is how did you enter my kingdom when you did no charitable works at all. How did you enter my kingdom with not offering a helping hand? Did I not tell you in Matthew’s gospel, which this is where this gospel comes from, Matthew 7, not everybody who yells my name, not everybody who yells my name will enter my kingdom, but only those who do the will of my father, works of charity? Did Saint James not tell you and I faith without works is dead? Did Saint Paul in Corinthians say “You could have the faith to move a mountain, but if you don't have works, love, charity, then you're just a resounding gong.” What good does it do to tell a man who has no clothes to keep warm, a man that has no food “Make sure and get something to eat.”? My brothers and sisters in Christ, faith without works is dead. Because you have faith, you will do good works. Because you do good works, people will see you have faith. Therein lies the whole point of helping hands. 
  4. Look, go back in scripture. I bet you if I had pictures, can you imagine the size of this backdrop, of somebody's hands in scripture, you would know who they were just by their hands. For example, if I told you that his hands were immaculately manicured, there were rings on every finger, matter of fact, he probably wouldn't have lifted an instrument his entire life, probably never held a hammer, never drove a spike, never held a sickle, never bailed anything, and next to it was a little bowl and towel, you say “Oh, that's Pilate's hands.” If I would have showed you another set of hands, and next to it would have been holding a spear that was dripping with blood, and that blood would have been dripping on his hands, and his hands would have been callous and marred, probably with all kind of nicks and cuts, because he's a soldier, you'd have said “Man, I bet that's Longinus hand.” and you'd have been right. If I had told you that his hands, man, they look like they have been weathered for decades, it looks like he's got more rope burns on there than he does skin, and in one hand he's got the keys, in the other hand he's got a fish, you would say “Man, those are the hands of kepha, Peter.” If I told you that this lady's hands are holding up the veil of Christ, and in it is his image, you would immediately would have said “Oh, that's Veronica's hands.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, throughout scripture you and I are identifying people just by the look of their hands. If a man is holding a money bag of 30 pieces of silver with the salt that has been knocked over next to him because if you look at the painting of the last supper, the one where all the apostles are on the backdrop, if you look real closely, somebody's knocked over the table salt. Why? The good lord says “Are you worth your salt.” That would have been Judas. You would have known him just by his hands. 
  5. Well, now here you and I sit 2,000 years later. Would people recognize you and I, your spouse, your children, yourself, your family, your friends, would they recognize who you are just by a picture of your hands? Would it be something that you have in your hands, and then they would have said “Oh, if it's got a computer mouse, I know who that is.” If it has a remote control, your family would say “Oh, I know whose hands those are.”? If it's a phone, would they know it's your hands? If it's fingers texting on a phone, would they know it's your hands? My brothers and sisters in Christ, would they know it's your hands because there's a drink in your hand? Will they know it because there's a cigarette and the nicotine is stained? Will they know it because there's always balled up in a fist because we're always angry, and woe to you who strikes another, what waits for you you could never even dream of, the nightmare will only unfold for those who raise a hand to another. My brothers and sisters in Christ, would it be a syringe in the hand? Would it always be a finger that's pointing at others? Which finger would it be, my brothers and sisters in Christ? Don't you understand? When they took a picture of you and they had a rosary in your hand, would your family say “I know that is, I’ve seen that rosary, I’ve seen him pray, that's her, that's him.”? Would it always be like Mother Teresa would do when she'd pray? She said she'd always have to pray this way, with the hands folded flat together and the thumbs crossed to remind her of the crucifix and remind her what it means to be totally compliant and totally dependent on our savior. She would never pray this way, she would only pray this way because it's the height of humility. Is that how your and I hands would be? Would there be anything religious in our hands at all? Would it be a rosary, a cross, a prayer card? Would it have anything in it at all? Would they even know that you're a religion, would they even know that you're Catholic? If we don't know, they don't know, how will he know? My brothers and sisters in Christ, by your hands and our gestures, people will know whether we are followers of Jesus Christ. I’m always amazed that when I go to funerals everybody always has a rosary in their hand, and I always pray “Lord I hope that rosary has been in their hand all along”. My brothers and sisters in Christ, I am begging you, in the way that the world is now spun, and the way it will continue to spin, if you and I don't ratchet it up and we don't begin to pray more and show people with our hands that we're willing to be helping hands and it begins and ends with prayer, if you and I don't show people that we are indeed Catholic, then how are they to know, simply by our thoughts? We have made our faith such a private thing that now we can't even go public with our faith. The problem is it needs to be the other way. Our faith needs to be public, and it needs to be seen in our hands.
  6. I’ll leave you with this. The greatest asset in the world is not a brain full of knowledge, it's a heart full of love, charity, and works, it's an ear that is willing to listen, and hands that are willing to help. 
  7. Amen.

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