Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for August 11, 2013

• Wisdom 18:6-9 • Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19 • Luke 12:32-48 • 19 Ordinary C ‘13 •

Scripture Readings: Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Print PDF: Weekly Homily 08.11.2013

Jim Hogan2Two weeks ago I was in Portland, Oregon.  A group of frustrated, discouraged and now alienated Catholic people invited me to come and spend time with them in reflection and prayer.  They are members of what has been the most progressive parish in the archdiocese of Portland, until now!  A recently appointed pastor swooped into the parish with his own agenda.  He simply did what he wanted to do with complete insensitivity to the life and customs of these people.  Their experience is similar to that of many other Catholic folks across this country.  Perhaps you can relate to them.

The first generation Christians experienced the Risen Christ.  They expected the Risen One to return in their lifetime.  That created a problem for following generations when the Risen One did not return as expected.

As the delay grew longer they became frustrated and discouraged. Memories and stories evolved as they were passed on. How could they keep their hope alive? Eventually the gospels were written to assure that future generations would know Jesus Risen.

That helps us understand Luke’s parable about the attitude and behavior of servants faithfully waiting for their master. We are the servants!  Listen to the words in this parable attributed to Jesus.  “Do not be afraid.”  “Be like servants who await their masters return.”  “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival.”  In other words – despite the delay, remain vigilant and prepared to welcome the Risen One when he comes.

We are living in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council – a time of great expectation!  In that Council our bishops called us to spiritual renewal – John XXIII named it “aggiornamento.”

The meaning and implications of “aggiornamento” have been and continue to be a source of tension among us.  The two recent Bishops of Rome — John Paul and Benedict, exasperated that tension as they set out to “reform the reform” and called a retreat from the vision of the Council.

My experience in Portland demonstrated for me once again that so many deeply committed Catholic people feel discouraged and frustrated. This parable in Luke’s gospel was not written for us but it does speak to our situation today. It calls us to journey into the future with confidence.  We are the church.  We are the People of God. Be “vigilant!”  Be “steadfast in faith!” Don’t give in to frustration and discouragement!

Unfortunately, most of us, since our early youth, have been taught to be submissive and passive. I think the majority of our Catholic peers remain that way. The two recent Bishops of Rome understood this and gradually reasserted the pre-Counciliar model of what it is to be Catholic.

Most Catholics barely noticed or felt there was nothing they could do about it.  The pervasive passivity of so many folks is one of the major sources of our frustration and discouragement.

However there are large numbers of Catholic men and women across this country and in Canada who are able to think, plan and promote new ways of being faithful to Jesus Christ. Such folks carry within them the hope of our future as church. You are among them!

Today the Catholic Church of North America needs people like you who care about our household of faith and want to share our heritage with people yet to be born.  Stand up!  Step forward!  Speak out!  As you share with others the perspective, courage and hope within you, you are engaged in rebuilding the church as set before us by the Council; a church open to the problems and challenges of this modern world in which we live.

The reasons for the frustration and discouragement are real.  Still the Christ message remains the same.   “The kingdom of God is at hand!”  You may need to take an occasional vacation from our household of faith.  But don’t give up.  Be persistent!

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7 Responses to Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for August 11, 2013

  1. John Chuchman says:

    Yes, Silence in the face of abuse/discrimination is complicity.

  2. “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.
    If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral,
    the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
    Bishop Desmond Tutu

  3. I agree with Reverend Hogan’s assessment that there are many parishes in the US that are clamoring for more relevance and spirituality in the Catholic Church today. I attend mass every Sunday and sometimes once or twice a week because I feel good about it, not as an obligation although I have been taught that Sundays should be set aside as a day of worship. However, there is nothing to look forward to in Church except the ordinary mass, and, of course, the atmosphere of being in the house of God. I enjoy listening to a good homily, one which lifts my faith and strengthens it. However, I have not experienced that feeling for a long time, that’s why I find pleasure in reading Reverend Hogan’s homilies although reading it is not as effective as listening to it in Church.

  4. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

  5. Georgann T. Brophy says:

    I do not choose to “take an occasional vacation” from the home I’ve spent my life in, but I do choose to speak out as an informed and active member of my church on every occasion that arises regarding the injustices I’ve seen in parishes around the world managed by bad pastors and bishops, and on issues so important to so many of us today. rather than walk away from the home I love, I speak up about its problems and the disgraceful behavior of its leaders, but also about its basic message of love and service and the good intentions of so many of my fellow Catholics. I try to model openness to diversity and acceptance of other human beings, telling others by my behavior that simply because I am a Catholic does not mean I am a rubber stamp for bad theology and archaic rules. I sit in the pew on weekends, but I am not a “pew sitter!” my presence at Mass in my Franciscan parish brings me peace, joy, and renewal of spirit as I share prayer with people of all ages, colors, languages and traditions. I rejoice that Vatican II gave me Hope for the future of this church and I have Faith that the Holy Spirit will not let that Hope die. We are all, in our own way, the instruments of that Hope.

  6. Sister Charlene Ozanick says:

    My question is: What is going to be done in this parish in Portland? Are these folks going to confront the pastor? Or are they just going to feel badly or just write about their feelings of frustration in a journal? Are they going to canvas the parish and see how many others are upset? Will they confront their new pastor? Will they let him know, in no uncertain terms, that they will not put up with his actions?

    Unless these folks step up to the plate—they will continue to experience this “boot on their necks”.

  7. Bonnie Owens says:

    I am a member of St Clare Parish in Portland Oregon. I am praying hard and seeking counsel from others about what to do. This is a very difficult situation. This is a pastor who is wounded and needs help but will not seek it. If he is confronted he will not be moved to change. We have approached the Archbishop and have not received a response. Perhaps we need to storm the archbishop and the Vicar of Priests with emails and letters. We do need to take some very evident action. Our parish is being torn apart and many people have left. One positive benefit I have gained from all of this is a much closer bonding with other parishioners and deepening of friendships and forming new friendships. This is very important to me and I am more determined than ever to not lose These friendships these deeper friendships. One priest will not force me to leave.

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