2017 Homilies (Written)

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Mark 1:40-45; 2-14-2021 (As Built, Amite #437)

 

  1. Extra step, take the extra step, go the extra mile.
  2. It's the 1970’s. His name is Allen. Allen lives in the Virgin Isles. Man, if you were to ask Allen, he'd tell you, man, “My sister and I have the greatest relationship ever.” He said “Man, truly we are just like soul mates.” and if you were to ask Allen today “Tell me about your life.” he would say “It was absolutely phenomenal. Best life ever. It's everything you could hope for, it was it was just a book of dreams up until the age of two.” He said “Man, the world came tumbling.” He said “Man, at the age of two my mom and dad get divorced,” he says “and, man, that's when things started. I had to move from the Virgin Isles to New Jersey, and then I find out when I get there that neither of my parents are coming. I'm staying with my grandparents.” He said “I'm up there for about 10 years and then, man, all of a sudden, I get word we're moving to Florida.” He said “Man, just when things maybe were getting a little better.” He said “Man, I get there at the age of 12, my grandfather passes. Almost within the same month my dad passes. He's caught up in a home robbery, his house. As a result, he loses his dad. He said “Man, I am on my heels. People are telling me ‘Get your head up, take another step, one day at a time.’” He said “Take another step?” he said “Man, I want to go backwards.” He said “Then I meet a teacher that says ‘Look, do me one favor. Just take an extra step and go into the drama club.’” He said “You know, I do that because I can pretend to be other people. They could have better lives, I could be more popular, I could never have these troubles.” He said “Man, things are working out pretty well. Then, I get a scholarship to Juilliard and when I get there,” he said “I just wasn't really good about going to class.” He says “I was really not good at it. I just didn't go and, as a result, man, I failed after the first semester. Now I'm starving to death. I got to make money.” He said “Man, one minute I'm trying to get a little job on Broadway in front of the camera, behind the camera, carrying the camera, doing this, doing that.” He said “I'd do anything.” and he said “Man, then they started giving me these little bit parts because I'm always hanging around, I'm always helping.” He said “They got me in a movie called Back to You, and then there was another one called Kennedy, and then there was another one called Hank.” and then, all of a sudden my brothers and sisters in Christ, he said “Then the world really took a turn for the worst.” He said “My sister was murdered.” He said “Take a step forward?” He said “Man, I want nothing to do with the world.” He said “I'm out, and then if that's not bad enough, within the month my mother, I have been told, goes on a scuba adventure. Her and my half brother and half sister, they all drown.” He said “I just quit. Step forward? Please. Take it one step at a time? Please.” He said “Man, I'm not moving.” and he said “Then that friend comes, the one that you need to hear from, you may not have liked it at the time, but, man, true friends and says ‘You know what, until you forgive the person for killing your sister, you'll never get there.’” He said “I would have none of it.” but over time he did. He eventually takes one step, then two, and pretty soon he goes back to the prison, hears the guy, speaks to him, and, man, from that point on his world just gets measurably better. My brothers and sisters in Christ, he begins to take one step, and then two steps, and now he's going the extra mile, and you know what? He's become quite popular. He's still quite reserved. He'll tell you that alcohol and drugs got the best of him for quite a while, but not so much now. He was in the movies like the X-men. Wrong crowd, sorry. Okay, I'll pitch that one to a younger one. As a result, he was in X-men, he was in Toy Story as Stinky Pete. Swinging and a miss, got it. Okay my brothers and sisters in Christ, he is Sideshow Bob in the Simpsons. He was in the movie Down Periscope. He was in the movie Expendables 3. I tell you what my brothers and sisters in Christ, his popularity came into play when he used to oftentimes sit at a bar in Boston, opposite Norm and the mailman. Ah yes my brothers and sisters in Christ, you know him as Dr. Frasier Crane the psychiatrist, right? That would sit at the end... that had his own show? My brothers and sisters in Christ, you know when they ask him today, and he'll tell you “If my friend doesn't tell me to take the extra step or go the extra mile,” he said “I'll never make it.”
  3. That is exactly that Gospel. The good lord is waiting and here's a leper that goes the extra step, he goes to find Christ. He's a leper, remember he's got to wear the garments, he's got to be shaven, he's got to make sure that his garments are torn, he's got to make sure everybody knows it, he's got to yell “unclean”, he's going to probably get stoned, he's outside of his area, but he's going to see the good lord, and then he kneels before him. Everybody who believed Christ to be the messiah in Scripture, albeit less than one percent, you could always tell those who truly believed him to be the messiah, they bowed, knelt, or laid prostrate. Same reason why you and I kneel during the consecration, because he's now in front of us. That's why we kneel to receive him. So now the leper has come in front of him and says and proclaims “If you will it, it will happen.” He begs him, he prays with earnest. My brothers and sisters in Christ, now let's stop. You're a first century Jew. This is what you know as you're watching that incident play out. Everybody is starting to separate because the leper is a leper. As a result of it, the good lord is listening to him. This man has come up, people are separating, he's got on his knees, and he is begging God to touch him. Now this is what you and I know as a first century Jew. We do know who Mark is, we also know he's not an apostle. We do know that he kind of speaks more to Gentiles because he doesn't speak about Jewish tradition, and Mark is all about the facts. Immediately this happened, immediately that happened. He says it dozens of times. He's just about the facts, and this is what you and I know as lepers. We know at the end of the day that he's got to be quarantined for seven days and that the high priest must tell him it's okay. He's got to look for that white hair, he's got to see if it turns yellow, he's got to see if indeed if it is and what he must do. Now let's stop. The good lord touched him. According to their rules, the good lord would have to be quarantined too, kind of like Covid... just saying. As a result of it my brothers and sisters in Christ, he should have been quarantined, but here's the argument. The leper is no longer a leper. That was the argument they're having on the side. “Well wait a minute, he's a leper. Christ needs to be quarantined.” “But, well, he's not a leper. He's cured, so maybe he didn't have leprosy.” You see where they're going with it? my brothers and sisters in Christ, it gets real confusing for them because Christ is doing things they've never seen before, and this is what you know as a first century Jew. You know the story of Naaman. Naaman is, go back, man, 600-700 years, back in the time of Elijah, naaman is the only employed leper. Everybody wants Naaman on their team. Every king wants Naaman on their team, not because he's a leper, but because he's the greatest general the world's brought to the forefront. He is so good that even as a leper they keep him. As a matter of fact, Naaman goes to the king and says “You need to cure me.” You and I both know that story and we also know what the king said in response... “Who am I? God? I can't cure you, only God can cure you.” and now we're watching it play out. Naaman is the one that goes to Elijah and says “I need to be cured.” and Elijah says “Go to the river Jordan and bathe seven times, and when you come out on the seventh time you'll be cured.” Naaman is so mad at Elijah he said “What? Could you pick a dirtier river? We got a thousand, pick one.” He said “I did.” and he walked away. He went to all the other rivers and, finally, someone he took counsel with said “Just go in the river seven times.” and on the seventh time they said it dropped like snowflakes in a fire. He said it was pristine that's what you and I know when we see the good lord touch him. My brothers and sisters in Christ, if you don't have leprosy as a first century Jew, then you got to make an offering, which means you got to bring two turtle doves, two goats, maybe two lambs depending on where you are financially. You will give one up to God as a sacrifice and one you will set free, and if you have clothes that you were wearing as a leper at the time, if anything had red or some type of reddish green tint on it, you gotta burn it, then they're going to go check your house and if there's anything on the walls or the roof or whatever, they're probably going to burn it to the ground anyway, but if it has any red or green tint, which is how the leprosy usually showed up over time, they would burn it. Now my brothers and sisters in Christ, you also know that the good lord told him to be quiet and, as a result, he's like every good person today. Man, you just gotta let that gossip out, you just can't keep it in. Now you’re Naaman, you got cured, you're running through the streets, you're jumping up and down, this is a miracle. I mean, even if you didn't say film at 11, it was Christ 100 yards to the right, everybody knows you're a leper. Your head's still shaved, your clothes are still torn, and, all of a sudden, man, there's no scabs, there's no nothing. My brothers and sisters in Christ, do you know why the good lord doesn’t chastise him, and you need to understand this, why does he not chastise that man, but every time he expels a demon he tells the demon to be quiet and he silences them? Why did he do it to the demon and not to this man? Because you and I have free will and he's going to allow you to operate on your own free will, any way you want. You can either follow him or go away from him. You were never neutral. Go and tell no one. He told him sternly. There were so many people coming, he's now living out in the outskirts of town just to be able to maneuver. The reason why he told the devil to be silent is because the devil only has free will one time. In other words, the minute of his creation on day one, God created the light, the angels, that's the only day they got free will to either follow him in heaven or rule in hell. If he allows the demon to speak, he will just constantly preach against the good lord and tell everybody, so my brothers and sisters in Christ, that's why he is silenced and that's why the man has free will. The fact of the matter is the steps he took brought more people to Christ. 
  4. Go back in Scripture. I’ll tell you what, all of our best players who are in the book of life all took that extra step. I’ll bet you that I can describe them and you would know them before I got ten words out. She gets up on Easter Sunday, the only one that goes to the tomb, the first to see the risen Christ. You’d say “Oh father, that's Mary Magdalene.” and I'd say “That's right, but you know why you know her? Because she took the extra step, she went the extra mile.” When everybody else is asleep and everybody else thinks he's dead, lest the holy mother, as a result of such, that's why she doesn't go to the tomb, because she already knows. My brothers and sisters in Christ, because Mary Magdalene takes those steps, she's the first to see the risen Christ before Peter himself. If I told you that here he is standing, watching the crucifixion with his two sons, he had been out in the field and he's there to do the passover meal and, man, they just bring him into the army, they conscript him right then right there and he carries our lord’s cross. My brothers and sisters in Christ, you’d say “Oh Father, that's Simon of Cyrene.” That's right. He may have reluctantly took in the steps, but the movie portrayed him right because towards the very end he knew all too well that this guy was indeed the messiah, and the good lord was telling him up on Golgotha “Yes, I know you brought me to my crucifixion, but I only asked you to help carry my cross for so long. It's for me to carry but I thank you for taking that extra step.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, if I told you he gave up his tomb, you’d say “That's Joseph of Arimathea.” but he's the same one that took the steps to go see Pilate, to tell Pilate “Why don't you give him to me?” He took the steps so the good lord would have a place to rest his head. My brothers and sisters in Christ, remember this. As a Jew, a couple of things are important. Whenever they cleanse you of leprosy, they got to do it with water, it's got to last for so much time, and it may cost you your blood. For example, water. You got to go in the river jordan, you got to cross over the red sea, water's always involved. There's always a certain amount of time... might be seven days, maybe 40 days, sometimes it may cost you your martyrdom like all the innocents that were martyred on the day when king Herod is looking for our savior. To a Jew, those three things are important to be cleansed, but all three of those things are predicated on one thing, that you and I take the extra step to go towards Christ.
  5. So here we sit 2,000 years later. How willing are you to go the extra mile? To take the extra step? Well, let's see. When you're at work and you are overrun, you would almost beg to ask the question, to have it answered, “Is there anybody else that works here, because it seems like I'm the only one that's getting these problems? It's like my desk is the only one where they can find places to put paper. It's the only phone that seems to ring. Man, you know, I'm not getting paid for this.” Never tie yourself to the decimal point. The only person that's ever done it in Scripture is Judas and we know how things turned out for him. You do these things because you're a follower of Jesus Christ, you're a believer in his holy Catholic church because you do take the next step. Are you going to do it because regardless of if it's in your job description or not, how else will people know that you're a follower of Christ if you and I do not use our feet, our mouths, our eyes, and our ears, and our hands to show people that the messiah does work, and he does work through us, and he does work through his church. My brothers and sisters in Christ, remember this. It's not whether you're not you're a physician, or a teacher, or a student, or an engineer, you work construction, you work in the industry, you're a housewife, you're this or you're that. You are a Catholic doctor, you are a Catholic lawyer, you're a Catholic businessman or businesswoman, you're a Catholic student, you're a Catholic teacher, you're a Catholic man or woman of the world. Your faith is what defines you. My brothers and sisters in Christ, we came in on this day, you're going home on this date, make no mistake about it. On the day of your death, what you did for a living is irrelevant. The only thing relevant, “Were you a follower of my son, the teachings of his church? Tell me the commandments and welcome to my table.” “Well, let's see. Don't kill anyone... there's an honor something about your parents... Oh yeah yeah yeah, not to curse.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, do you want him to use the minimum with you? When he judges you we'll say “Oh, I ain't got time for that.”? “Be gone.” My brothers and sisters in Christ, are you going to take that extra step when your family member calls you on your way home, and if you get one more phone call you will take a hostage? Will you take that phone call, listen to what they have to say when they say “Man can you pick this up? Can you take care of that?” Children, can you make sure that since you ate the food that you at least clean the plate which you ate it on? Will you clean your room, albeit semi-annually, just so that you can give something back to your family? My brothers and sisters in Christ, will you take that extra step when your family members call you and you start to ask “Am I the only child?”? Well, I don't know Simon. Maybe you're the only one that will do anything. My brothers and sisters in Christ, I'm begging you at the end of the day to remember this, “On the day you and I pass, there is no more forgiveness.” On the day you and I pass, according to the catechism, there is no more forgiveness. There is only judgment based on how you acted from here to here. Will you be the one that the good lord says “Man, well done. I watched you when they dismissed you. I watched you when they stiff-armed you, I watched you when they spoke behind your back, and they cursed, and wrote, and texted, and you stayed the course my child. Welcome to the table of all of my children. Job well done.”? 
  6. My brothers and sisters in Christ, I’ll leave you with this. Take the extra step, go the extra mile… there's almost no traffic.
  7. Amen.

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