2017 Homilies (Written)

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Mark 1:7-11; 1-10-2021 (As Built, Amite #432)

 

  1. Cooperate, Cooperate.
  2. It's the 1960’s. His name is Edmund, and Edmund is a Bronx, New York kind of guy. He's also a Jew. He comes from Germany. He is one of three children. His dad is a butcher. His mom is the quintessential mom, can do and does do, and, as a result, he'll tell you that high school, grammar school, pretty uneventful. He said, man, he had his days where, you know, it just didn't work right. Sometimes he didn't cooperate well, he didn't play well with others in the sandbox and, as a result, got in a little trouble, but gets a scholarship from Michigan State to play football, so he goes, doesn't cooperate there. As a result, he leaves, he goes to Hofstra, and then he decides, man, this just ain't for me. Out of nowhere, he just decides I'm going to go be an actor, so he goes to the playhouse in New York and he starts trying little bits and things and he gets a little bit part in the show the Gambler and then, as a result, man, it kind of gets a little bit better and he gets another one in a show called a Bridge Too Far. Then, he gets on the show Get Smart. Side note, I'd like to see all the actors that got started with Get Smart because I'ma tell you, it's a lot. As a result, man, he's starting to make a few dollars, a few nickels in his pocket. He thinks he's got game. As a result, they tell him “You know, the problem with you, Edmund, is that you don't play well with others and every movie you're in doesn't make money.” No money, no film, no Edmund and, next thing you know, he is starving to death. He will tell you he's almost flat broke. He gets a big part in a western. Please tell me you'll get this one. He gets a big part in a western, but he gets it with, of all actors, John Wayne and he gets the name for the show, the movie if you will, Alan Bedelian Trahearne Mississippi. Okay, the movie was named El Dorado. Okay, man, I really thought we'd have knocked it out the park, but what do I know? I didn't play baseball. There it goes, see, it fits. As a result my brothers and sisters in Christ, he says, man, next thing you know things get a little better, and next thing you know he starts learning that if I don't cooperate and play a little bit better, I'll never get another part, so, next thing you know, he starts trying to reach out a little bit more. At first he was in... there was a kind of a horror flick with Stephen King called Misery. You kidding me? You know Misery and you don't know El Dorado? That's the problem with the world right there, okay, let me tell you. That's the problem. As a result, man, he gets in that movie and the next thing you know, man, bits and pieces. He starts getting into a movie called Eraser, and the next thing you know, man, he starts making friends with different people and then he gets the part of parts. He gets to be Sonny Corleone in the Godfather. You know, this is a miserable death my brothers and sisters in Christ. The height of irony, he plays Sonny Corleone in Godfather. You know him as James Caan. Here's the irony, they interview him late in life. He was in the rodeo for a while, he got really involved in martial arts and karate and, as a result, they started asking him “Man, you know being with the Godfather,” he said “that must have been blessing after blessing after blessing.” He said “There are two great things that came from the movie and one bad thing.” He said “Well, what are the two good things?” He said “One, every time I went into a restaurant, I got the best seat because they thought I was part of the crime world.” He said “They thought I was a wise guy.” Then, he said “If it's not bad enough, I won Italian of the year in New York twice, and I'm a Jew.” and they said “Well, what's the bad news?” He said “I was only paid $35,000. My brothers and sisters in Christ, but at the end of the day it's all about cooperating. 
  3. That is exactly the Gospel. The good lord comes all the way down from Nazareth of Galilee, it's over a couple hundred miles, to be baptized in the river Jordan. Have you seen the Jordan? It isn't one that you'd rather go just relish to jump in. If you go back to the Old Testament when they were trying to get Naaman cured of leprosy and they told him just go in the river Jordan and go dip in there seven times and come out, he goes to every other river lest that one. He said water is water. He doesn't even want to go in the Jordan. Nothing's changed. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you need to understand something. The good lord is cooperating with his father. He doesn't need baptism, but he needs you and I to be baptized and to cooperate, and the only way to cooperate with his grace that you get from the sacraments is to act on it. My brothers and sisters in Christ, let's stop. Make sure you understand what's going on. In the river Jordan, John is baptizing them for the forgiveness of sins. Did you notice that nobody went to Christ to get their sins confessed? Did you realize how Mark and Matthew in the gospels know this is going on? Because they hear the confessions. Oftentimes confession was public. My brothers and sisters in Christ, nowhere in scripture did Christ ever baptize nor hear a confession, so why do we assume that since we can't baptize ourselves that we can just go directly to God to be forgiven? My brothers and sisters in Christ, now you need to understand something. When they said the heavens tore open, that is schisma in Greek. That means to tear, in other words my brothers and sisters in Christ, to rip apart, in other words, it wasn't like the clouds rolled away and all of a sudden things started to part. It's almost like somebody tore a garment and, all of a sudden, you see tattered and torn ends and, all of a sudden, you see the Holy Spirit descend. My brothers and sisters in Christ, he's letting everybody know it's a triune god. You see the Holy Spirit, you see Jesus Christ being baptized, and you hear God the father say “This is my son with whom I am well pleased.” Now my brothers and sisters in Christ, you saw two things if you and I were standing by the river Jordan. You would have heard John say “Wait a minute, isn't it you supposed to be baptizing me?” and he said “No. For now this is how it will be.” You, and I, and everybody on the shore would not know Christ to be who he is until after the baptism. When he comes out of the water, the heavens open up and the dove descends. That's when you and I start piecing it together. John gets it before. How does John know? He gets it from being already baptized in the womb and when the blessed mother walked in the house of Elizabeth and gave her greeting, intercessory prayer, all of a sudden John begins to dance. That means he got baptized. That's why he can recognize Christ and the rest of us can't, because we haven't gotten there yet. Now my brothers and sisters in Christ, you need to understand this too. You and I are standing there. Remember, everything is a foretelling of what is to come. In other words, the old testament foretells the new. The front part of the new foretells what's coming in the back of the new testament, so everything's building on itself. The first commandment sets the table and all build off of that one. That's what's happening, so when you hear the schima, that things got torn apart, and you heard God the father say “This is my son with whom I am well pleased.” you and I were at the baptism, now we're at the crucifixion, and all of a sudden, man, it's coming to that third hour, and the ground is starting to crack, and the earthquakes are happening, the clouds are moving in, and then, all of a sudden, we hear somebody come running from the temple. Man, the temple drapes have been torn apart. You and I would have said “Wow, that's the same thing John the Baptist said when we were at the Jordan. The heavens were torn apart. That's what Mark just said.” and then you heard the proclamation said by Longinus, “Truly that man was the son of God.” almost the exact same proclamation. Remember, when John is baptizing he never says it's the messiah. He never says it's Christus the anointed one. He said “It's just somebody so great that's mightier than I. I can't even touch his sandals.” Slaves could at least touch the sandals of their owner and it would make you and I jump all the way back to Isaiah where we hear there will be a person in the desert making straight the paths of the Lord. Making straight the path of the Lord. John is saying he's the Lord. He's that great that I can't even touch his sandals. My brothers and sisters in Christ, and remember this, baptism is what brings you and I to the table of the kingdom of God. How often do I hear people say, and haven't studied and been other faiths, that you can only get baptized when you accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. John the Baptist is baptized in the womb. In the Acts of the Apostles, when Ananias goes to baptize Paul, Saul who's been blind for three days and now will be called Paul, he tells him “Get up and go get baptized to remove your sins. Cooperate with God. Act on it.” so it was to remove the sins. If you go into the Acts of the Apostles in the second chapter, you will hear the apostles tell them “I will baptize you and your children.” It's the removal of the sin, my brothers and sisters in Christ. If you have children or grandchildren, get them baptized. “Well, I'm not- they need to-” Do me a favor. If you're a business person, you've lost nothing by baptizing him now and then again when he accepts Jesus Christ as his lord and savior, but if you wait and they don't make it to that day, then that one's going to be on you and I. That's a millstone around your neck. Do you understand what a millstone is my brothers and sisters in Christ? It's the size of a spare tire. Not the not the little water balloon they stick in your car to get you where you need to go, I'm talking about a full-size spare made of nothing but stone. When they would tie a millstone around people's neck and throw them in a river, it usually would decapitate them. That's what happens when we don't baptize our children, we put them on the road to perdition and we haven't got started. Now, it's not the child's fault because there's always the baptism of intention, and baptism of blood, and being a martyr. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you and I have to cooperate. 
  4. Look, go back in scripture. Think of all the great players. What if Mary Magdalene wakes up and says “Man, it's Easter Sunday. I watched you brutally, brutally and diabolically beat my savior to death. I am not getting up on Sunday, I'm just not. It's too cold, I'm tired, I'll catch it on television.” Please, you think that's cooperating with God's grace? No way no how because you didn't act on it. She gets up and goes all the way to the tomb with all the trepidation, and worry, and anxiety of the world, that she's going to be standing outside next to a rock she can't move. She's gonna run across soldiers that have had their way with her. At the end of the day, the first to see the risen Christ because she cooperated, because she acted. What if Saul, who becomes Paul, decides “You know what? To heck with this. Man, I ain't cooperating with this.” Please understand, he doesn't know he's going to be blind for three days. He thinks he's blind period, yet he still wants to be a Catholic. He still wants to be a Christian. He cooperates with God's grace, he acts on it. What about the guy that gives up his tomb? Man, tombs don't just come out of nowhere, there's no funeral home, there's no parlor, there's no graveyard, man, if you're not buried in your own backyard, in your own cave or grotto, you're just buried in an open field somewhere next to somebody else, and here's the irony... If you're a Christian, you don't even get your name on it. You just get a number or a family symbol. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you and I need to learn to cooperate with God, and the only way to cooperate with him is to act on it. 
  5. My brothers and sisters in Christ, think about it. You're at work somebody brings you something that… it's not your job description. It's not what you've been paid for, it's just nowhere in your realm of responsibilities. Can you cooperate with it and do what is asked because as a Catholic man or woman, you know that this is the only way they'll come to know that Christ exists? You want grace to build on your nature? You want that jug of grace, if you will? Well, the only way you're going to get it is to cooperate. Outside of salvific grace, faith, hope, and love that he showers on you and I incessantly every day, almost like a shower head, so that you and I can learn to have faith in him, that we will do good works and because we have good works we'll have faith, that we'll hope in him, that we'll stand before him and he'll say “Welcome home my child. Job well done. To the table of all of my saints.” and then you'll be sacrificial in your love of one another. He gives us that every day because we couldn't even have an essence, we would not even exist, we would not even have a being if it wasn't for salvific grace, but other graces are bestowed on us when we cooperate. You say you don't want to help at work, then the grace doesn't come your way. There's no sin in it my brothers and sisters in Christ, the fact of the matter is, think about it, you just simply remain neutral, but you can't because you're either walking towards him or you're walking away from him. If the good lord gives you something to do and your family calls you... pick this up, drop this off, can you come home early, can you stay late, honey, can you take care of this, that, or the other... if you do not cooperate with one another you don't receive the grace, and if you cooperate and argue the whole time and complain, then where's the benefit? It's almost like I will give you a gallon jug of grace if you would do this without complaining, and by the time you and I finish complaining, there's barely enough residue at the bottom to cover it. My brothers and sisters in Christ, do you cooperate with God's grace in your daily life? Do you cooperate by starting your day with prayer? Do you stop and pray before and after every meal? You know, if you and I prayed one prayer in the morning, just one, and you prayed before each and every meal, and then you prayed before you went to bed, you'd pray five times more than you've been praying before. Can you imagine the grace that would be bestowed on you because you cooperate? Look, when you pray and it doesn't get answered your way, it doesn't mean that he's not listening, or he doesn't care, or you don't know if he's going to come, or all of a sudden you and I begin to question his existence, he's saying the answer may well be “Well, no, because if I give it to you, then you won't know how to sacrifice. You won't understand what it means to agape, to love. You'll be in the same boat Peter was.” “Do you love me?” “Well, yeah Lord.” “No Peter, do you love me?” “Well, yeah.” “Peter, do you... do you love me?” “Well Lord, you know everything.” Oh, but I do Peter, and someday they'll take you where you don't want to go, albeit upside down for three hours, and they'll even undress you. That is the love that I'm talking about.” That is the sacrifice. That is the cooperation that you and I need in him, so when somebody asks you to do something, and you need to go do it, and it's going to take time, it's going to take energy, you're tired and exhausted, that's when the grace is the greatest. That's when you should say that prayer. “But man, I'm tired. I don't want to get up, I'm frustrated, I'm exhausted.” That's the time to win the fight. That day when you decided not to pray, that was the one that would have won the game, and that was the day you and I should have gotten the grace, for the grace that is to come and for the challenges that will be before us. 
  6. My brothers and sisters in Christ, I leave you with this. If you want to cooperate with God's grace, you must act in that manner. If you do not act, then you're not in cooperation. The commandments are active. They're not passive. My brothers and sisters in Christ, there was a great saying and I forget which farmer said it, but it went something like this... “You will never plow a field, you will never plow a field by turning it over in your mind.” 
  7. Amen.

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