2017 Homilies (Written)

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Luke 1:26-38; 12-20-2020 (As Built, Amite #429)

  1. Worry, worry. 
  2. It's the late 1930’s. His name is Jim. Jim is unmistakable if you were to see him. He is, man, 6’6”, 6’8”. He's every bit 250 pounds and he wants to do something with his life, but one thing's unmistakable about him, he is quiet and extremely reserved and, as a result of it, he's decided that, man, the country is at war, WWII, that he needs to join the airforce. He goes to the air force but the dimensions don't fit, 6’8”, 250 pounds, it's not going to work. He decides to go into the army. He gets into the army and, man, they are landing in Italy. They're after Mussolini. As a result, you've seen the boats, right? The ones you see in the movies where they come ashore, the front drops down, everybody runs off, man, as soon as they start getting close, all of a sudden the colonel yells out to him “Jim, I need to get you in the front.” Jim is thinking “Well, wait a minute. Man, you can't miss me. What do you need me up there for Colonel?” “Well, look, when the little bridge drops, the door drops, you run out. If it's too deep we'll know it because, well, you'll drown, but if you don't then we know how deep it is.” Man, Jim is starting to get a little worried now because, well, first, I’m the first guy off, how could you miss me, what if it is too deep? As a result of it, man, he falls. It's about waist deep. He said “Man, bullets are flying, people are screaming, man,” he said “it's mayhem. You can't even begin to think how this works.” He said “The Germans have just literally, literally, just taken over.” and he said “Man, they are everywhere.” and as a result, man, he lands and he's in the water and he hears the colonel. “Now look, when you get there, make sure you take out the first machine gun nest. That's where you got to go Jim.” and Jim is thinking “Oh my God, man, okay,” he said “Man, you just want to get to shore.” He's grabbing a couple of his buddies, he's pulling them to shore, they're ducking they're bobbing and weaving, and then he noticed there's a farmhouse and in the top of the loft is the machine gun nest and he said “Man, they got a great view of the whole beach.” He says “Man, they can't move. They are pinned down” so, man, next thing you know he grabs a couple of his buddies and, man, they're crawling along the shore. He said “Man, they're in and out of the water, they're up on the bank,” and he tells them “I'ma get around to the back. In 10 minutes you open fire. I’m going to come in through the back. We’ve gotta get that thing knocked out, if we don't we're not going to make it.” Sure enough, man, Jim gets around the back. He prays that they've been counting 10 minutes. Man, as soon as he hits that door, lo and behold, man, they start firing upon the machine gun's nest. Jim will tell you that's the first hand-to-hand combat he had ever seen, and he said “Man, you can't imagine the worry and anxiety and the adrenaline that you have when this is going on. Bullets are fired, bombs are going off, people are screaming, and people are losing their lives.” He said he finally survives that and then, on the way back, a grenade goes off and literally launches him into a stream. He said he was there for 18 hours. He said they'll never find him. He said he's about to freeze to death. He starts thinking back in his life when he was in the church, and then he was an altar server, and then he was in the choir, and then he started thinking about his life. He said “Man, I’ve got nothing to show for it.” and he said “I’ve got these anxieties and worries.” He said “I wonder if that's what kept me afloat.” and then, finally somebody finds him. They bring him to the hospital. He is there for a year, not a day, not a week, not a month. He's there for 12 months in the hospital and when he gets out, he's got a limp, I guess that's what you would call it. Some people would say it's a swagger, maybe a cowboy swagger, if you will, but it's a limp. As a result, he's sleeping in his car. 6’8'' sleeping in his car trying to find work. His brother, Peter, gets a job on Mission Impossible. Big hint, big hint. Ah okay, we got three people that got it, okay, this is good. As a result of it, he says “Look, I don't think it's going to work, but I want to introduce you to this guy who's got this theory about westerns.” he says “He wants to put on a little show.” and he meets the guy and his name is John Wayne, and he says “I want to start a town, and in this town we'll have a saloon called the Long Branch. We'll have a doc named Doc Adams, he'll be kind of crabby, the lady that will run it will be Miss Kitty.” Thank you Lord, over half the people now have gotten it. I’ve only gone through eight items, but it's okay. Yes my brothers and sisters in Christ, you know what's amazing? You know him as James Arness in Gunsmoke and he'll tell you that his whole life was plagued with anxiety and worry until he learned how to pray.
  3. My brothers and sisters in Christ, that is exactly the gospel. You're 14 years of age, an angel, Gabriel, comes to you. You must recognize the angel because you've called it by name, which means strength of God, the might of God. You're 14 and you're just being told that you're going to be the mother of the messiah and that you will bring the messiah into the world. Your parents have been gone, according to tradition, since you were eight or nine years old. You are living, if you will, in the temple, a convent if you will, a cloister if you will. Can you imagine why she's so excited and worried? Can you imagine the anxiety? I don't understand what this means and she began to ponder in her heart. The angel even has to say “Don't worry, you will have favor with God” and her answer is “Let it be done to me according to his will.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, now stop, let's make sure you understand. The angel Gabriel to a Jew is very popular. He showed up in Daniel to deliver a message, he showed up in Enoch to deliver a message, he shows up to Zechariah, John the Baptist’s dad, and to tells him that they will have a child and, oh by the way, when Zechariah the high priest of the time decides to kind of laugh it off and say “Are you kidding me? Look at our age.” he's now mute, so the angel carries with it clout. My brothers and sisters in Christ, do you know what's amazing? When Zechariah questioned Gabriel “How can this be, that we're going to have a child?” a little bit of attitude, he's mute for six months, or at least three that we know of. Mary says almost the exact same words, “How can this be since I do not know man.” It had to be the intention in their hearts that separated the two because, if you notice my brothers and sisters in Christ, the angel called her by her title and not by her name, hail, Full of Grace. Only two people have titles, Full of Grace and King of the Jews. My brothers and sisters in Christ, the angel is speaking to her and delivering the message that she is now going to be the mother of the messiah. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you need to understand where Joseph sits. Remember, he is from the house of David. According to tradition, small t, he is the middle child and, as a result, totally dedicated to the family and, as a result, when his parents died, he took no money but was responsible for taking care of the will but walked away from everything, so when they call all the people who are the line of David to come to the temple to see who will be betrothed to Mary, this is why often times you see joseph holding a staff that flowered in the same way king David chose Aaron, his staff flowered, that he would be the new protector of the tabernacle. He is a man of no means, he is a carpenter by trade, but I got to tell you brothers and sisters in Christ, say what you will about Joseph, he's with the good lord for 30 years. The apostles only get him for three. Does that tell you where he ranks in the world? According to mother church, we actually rank the first two saints. The blessed mother is called Hyperdulia, that means the ultimate in grace, hail full of grace. Joseph is next, Protodulia. In other words, the first in line after. Even John the Baptist falls below Joseph, this is how important he was in the family's plans. My brothers and sisters in Christ, when the angel told Mary that the Holy Spirit will overshadow you, that same word that's used for overshadowed is the same word they used for the glory cloud that would come down upon the on the tabernacle, so Mary is now very much aware of who Gabriel is, why it was important Joseph was chosen, and more importantly how it's going to happen to her. Now remember, she's already betrothed to Joseph, which means she's already engaged. They already have a wedding date, they know what day they're going to move into the house, that all the little bridesmaids and the maids with all their lanterns lit and unlit will actually process with them to the house, so she will “come to know man” if they are indeed to consummate. For her to make that statement means she already understood where she sat in the world, more importantly he had to understand because they were already engaged. This isn't something you would drop at the doorstep, this message or this bomb. It would already be an understanding for her to make that statement, but yet brothers and sisters in Christ, with all her worry and anxiety “Lord your will will be done because it's going to get done anyway” 
  4. My brothers and sisters in Christ, go back in scripture. Imagine you're Peter. Can you imagine? The good Lord shows up to you. All of a sudden, my brothers and sisters in Christ, you stop what you're doing. You have boats, you have men, you have crews, you have a wife, and you're gonna walk away from all of that, according to Saint Mark, immediately. You don't think he's worried about his wife and how that will go over? What about his family? What will come of her? You don't think he's worried about his boats and what to do with them? What about his income? How's he gonna eat? How's he gonna support a family? Am I going by myself? Am I leaving? Am I staying? What do you mean I’m the rock in which I’m gonna build my church? My brothers and sisters in Christ, you don't think he's worried about what do you mean I’m going to start a church? I’m going to deny you three times? I'ma cut a man's ear off? I’ma drown in the water? When you ask me “Do you love me?” I say “yes” and you keep asking me three more times? You don't think he's got anxiety so much that his meter's pegged, but yet he's the vicar of our church? Man, you don't think Matthew had problems and worries? You're a tax collector. You're the wealthiest men in Rome. You have more money than most of the Jews. The Jews can't hate you because if they do you’re gonna tax them, the gentiles can't hate you because you'll change the rules, man, the person that loves you best is Caesar, you make as much money as him. You're walking away from all that money and power to what? I mean, can you imagine what it was like to be John? 20-30 years after all the apostles are dead, you're still alive. You're on the island of Patmos. You don't think you're worried? You don't think you're worried about what's going to come of me? Are they going to martyr me? Are they going to catch up with me? Who's going to help me? Who do I call? Am I going to die by myself? Will there be somebody here? My brothers and sisters in Christ, everybody's plagued with worries, but what they understand what you and I fail to understand is that his will will be done. The problem is “will you and I cooperate with it”, and therein lies the rub. 
  5. My brothers and sisters in Christ, 2,000 years later here you and I sit. How much of your day is spent in worry and anxiety? Did you even wake up in today, or did you wake up in yesterday? That's the day of regrets. You know, I should have said that or I would have, if I should have wrote that or not said that, if I’d walked away, if I should have done this. What about tomorrow? Are we already in Monday? Are we already in next week? We're already planning Christmas. Whose house do we go to? Where are we going to go? Are their family members going to come? Are they not going to come? What about our guests? I didn't get the right gifts. I don't know what we got. What about a job? What about the rent? Am I going to have a job? What about the schedule? Are they going back to school? My brothers and sisters in Christ, therein lies the point. Give us this day our daily bread. Do you understand where worry comes from? It stems from pride, which is the table setter for all of the seven deadly sins. When you and I get caught up in worry, do you understand where that thought came from? It came from the evil one, and he hates you. The mere mention of your name causes him to spit. He hates you, your spouse, your children, your family, your existence because you've been made in the image of God, so at the mere fact that you can walk away freely, he will not have it. He will place a thought in your head and disturb your whole peace. You could have a hundred great things said about you, one person says something negative and that's the only thing we remember. What day did you wake up in? Is it his will be done, or is it our will be done, Lord, as long as you and I agree? Will you cooperate with his grace or will you not? My brothers and sisters in Christ, don't you understand? Of all the seven deadly sins, pride sets the table and, look, you've heard me tell you the story. If you go back to Screwtape Letters, a theoretical, a novel written about Lucifer and his son, and his son is explaining to his dad, Lucifer, “Those people, they're so ignorant. They're stupid. If I could just get them, and I’ll get them. Pop, listen to how I’m gonna get them. I’m gonna get that one group right here, pride, I’ll get em, and I’ll get that group over there with anger, and I’ll get them with sloth, and I’ll get them with envy, and I’ll get them with avarice, I’ll get them with pride and gluttony, I’ll get them with poor thoughts.” and he said “Son, how could you be so stupid? What if that group won't be getting caught by pride? What if they're not going to get angry, or what about that group that'll have better thoughts?” he said “Just get them to worry, son. Just plant the seed and they'll do it all for you.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, how much of your day, how much of an hour is spent in worry? How much of your conversation goes back to a worry? How much of your prayer wakes up in worry? How come you can't even have a cup of coffee because you're consumed with worry about the children, and the world, and the job, and where is this going? My brothers and sisters in Christ, we only got one weapon. It's prayer, but the problem is we're consumed with it. We will actually come to mass, receive the Eucharist, and by the time we hit that door, I promise you we're going to be worried about the things that we started with. If you leave here with the exact same worries you walked in this building with, then you forgot that he is God and we are not, thank God, that this is his house, for wherever he is we are. It is not a building, it never was intended to be that way. I will build it in three days. It is him. He is the vine, and the apostles are the branches, and we're attached to them wherever he is. Are you going to walk out of here and be hypocritical, or are you going to take the bread of life? You'll be as close to Christ now, on this side of the pearly gates, as John was when he put his head on his chest at the last supper to speak and to pray with him. That's how close you are. Talk to him, tell him your biggest worry, your biggest challenge, your biggest hate, whatever your anxiety is, tell him, and for the love of God, cut it loose and please, let it go. His will be done. Will you cooperate with it, or not? Your anxiety is the proportion of uncooperation. 
  6. I’ll leave you with the words of Winston Churchill. He said “I met a man on his deathbed and I asked him ‘Tell me about worry.’ He kind of just smirked and he said ‘Well, my entire life has been nothing but troubles, and now when I look back on it, it rarely ever happened. I just fell victim to worry.’” My brothers and sisters in Christ, I’m begging you, I’m pleading with you, I’m praying for you that you will stop the worry and anxiety. We pray at every mass, every hour, in every country, in every language, every day “Deliver us, Lord, from every evil. Grant us peace in our day. In your mercy keep us free from sin, protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our savior Jesus Christ.” No worries.
  7. Amen.

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