Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for July 7, 2013

• Isaiah 66: 10-14 •  Galatians 6: 14-18 •  Luke 10: 1-12, 17-20 •  14 Ordinary C ‘13 • 
Scripture Readings:  Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time 

Print PDF: Weekly Homily 07.07.2013

I presume you are aware of the growing shortage of ordained members of our Catholic household of faith.  If you are not, then check out the recent pastoral appointments published by Bishop Thomas.  Pastors of urban parishes are now being assigned to serve multiple rural parishes at the same time.  Opinions may vary about this situation.  I certainly have my own.  I wonder if this shortage of ordained may be a blessing in disguise.

Jesus of Nazareth found God in all things and all things in God.  Clearly he devoted his life and energy to proclaiming “the kingdom of God.”  I think with that phrase he was awakening us to a “new reality” that is emerging among us.  It is visible wherever human misery is diminished and people are bonded in love.  He only hints of how that kingdom might be fully realized in time and history.  I think today’s gospel text provides one of those hints.

“The Lord sent ‘seventy-two’ ahead of him to every town and place he intended to visit.”  Their task was the same as his.  They were to announce, “the kingdom of God is at hand.” This is great news!  God is working in us to make life more humane for everyone.

We have no idea who these seventy-two people were.  We presume they were “ordinary folks,” like you, sent to be humble, kind, patient and loving.  We do know that for more than two centuries, ordinary folks like you influenced the wider culture in which they lived.  Christian communities flourished.  “God’s new reality” was bursting forth.

Then the emperor Constantine made Christianity the religion of the empire. The institutional church was born. The vision so passionately pursued by Jesus was corrupted.  The sword replaced his message of peace. “Violence is any way one uses to control another through fear and intimation.” Violence replaced the humility, kindness, patience and love that characterized his way.  The separation of clergy and laity followed.

Eventually the “holy Roman empire” fell apart into separate nations and political kingdoms.  During those centuries of disintegration our ancestors yearned for a world in which people would live well.

That yearning continues to echo in us. Various “utopias” have been proposed.  Socialism promised equality.  Communism promised middle-class status.  Democracy promised freedom. Capitalism promised universal prosperity.

Every utopian dream that has been tried, including that of Constantine, eventually resorted to violence. Violence inevitably leads to a failed dream. The only dream still remaining has barely been tried.  It is the dream of Jesus about “the kingdom of God.”

It seems quite obvious to me that today’s greatest challenge for those claiming the identity of “Christian” is to recover our purpose as church. This means letting go of the idea that “church” is about “saving my soul;” about the next life and heaven.

I think our current situation in which the number of ordained in our Catholic household of faith are decreasing is a blessing in disguise.  I think this situation is beginning to force us to rediscover and reclaim what it means to be “Church.”  “Church” is about being Christ for others and doing all in our power to bring forth “God’s new reality.”  It is about replacing discrimination with equality;  replacing domination with mutuality; and being in solidarity with all who are marginalized or violated at any level of life.

In “sending the seventy-two ahead of him,” Luke’s Jesus directed them, “carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals.”  In other words, “let go” of as many forms of control as possible.  Go out “like lambs among wolves,” and love people.  Find God in all things and all things in God.

The good news we celebrate today is that you have listened and are among the seventy-two now stretched around this planet. “The kingdom of God is at hand”  —  God is working in you to make life more humane for everyone.  Thank you for being “church!”

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9 Responses to Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan for July 7, 2013

  1. Reverend Hogan makes us aware of the scarcity of vocations, a fact which has existed for some time. Is it because of the abuses that have been so widespread that young men are no longer interested in spiritual vocations, or is there a growing lack of spirituality in most Catholic families due to the emphasis on material possessions as a result of the advancement of technology and influence of the media. There have been so many factors that have affected the religious vocations for both men and women. All over the world except in Africa and Latin America, religious vocations have declined, most particularly in Europe, where the Cathedrals and monasteries are noticeably lacking of young priests and nuns, and attendants at masses had grown so small that only a small portion of the church is devoted for the celebration of mass. While Reverend Hogan’s homily sounds alarming, I wish he can give us some encouraging signs of hope as a result of the election of Pope Francis who is trying to reform the church to meet the needs of most Catholics.

  2. Bill Keane says:

    “The good news we celebrate today is that you have listened and are among the seventy-two now stretched around this planet. “The kingdom of God is at hand” – ”
    The bad news is that most of the successors of the apostles are as deaf to us as the apostles were to Christ’s message to them!
    “How many years must the cannonballs fly…..?”

  3. Rosemary says:

    I think the point of Father Jim’s homily is that it’s not about Francis and it’s not about more ordained priests, it’s about us… we are called to be those “seventy two”. We are called to spread the good news in our actions, in our words, in how we treat one another, in how we respond to our enemies. If we truly follow Jesus, we love unconditionally, as he did. We live the “good news” in our daily lives. There must have been days in Jesus life when he felt that people were deaf to his message. He didn’t stop spreading that message and we shouldn’t either! If everyone followed his lead we could have that Kingdom of God at hand. But it has to start with us…

  4. bud malby says:

    I always take Jim Hogan’s wisdom seriously. Not only that, but when he says:

    “I think our current situation in which the number of ordained in our Catholic household of faith are decreasing is a blessing in disguise…” fits right in with what I’ve believed for many years.

    As long as priests are considered consecrated mediators between God and us, how can Catholics be expected to grow up and function as God’s people – the Body of Christ?

    One of these days the Church may have to sit back and consider that God has ALREADY answered all those prayers for more vocations to the priesthood. It’s quite possible, in my view, that he/she said, “No!”

  5. Erin Pascal says:

    “It seems quite obvious to me that today’s greatest challenge for those claiming the identity of “Christian” is to recover our purpose as church…I think this situation is beginning to force us to rediscover and reclaim what it means to be Church.” I completely agree Father. This may be God’s way of calling each member of the church to take part in spreading the Gospel. As opposed to many “Catholics” notion, evangelization is not just for a chosen few. Jesus has commissioned us all to take part in the finishing of His work here on earth.

  6. What a revolutionary idea, Jim. You mean that WE are Church??!!

  7. Kathy H says:

    I’d like to share a quote from Father Roy Bourgeouis from his op-ed in The New York Times this year: “I have but one simple request for Pope Francis. I respectfully ask that he announce to the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world: ‘For many years, we have been praying to God to send us more vocations to the priesthood. Our prayers have been answered. Our loving God, who created us equal, is calling women to be priest in our Church. Let us welcome them and give thanks to God.'”
    We are all called to spread the love of God, each with our own talents. Let us each fulfill our unique calling.

  8. Joe McQuiston says:

    The followers of Jesus, known first as “people of the way” (Acts of the Apostles) broke from the synagogue after persecution from 1st Century religious leaders and Roman political enmity. Today, we have two choices: compromise (staying the course) or revolutionary change. We know what Jesus and his followers chose. Despite the hopefulness of Pope Francis, we are unlikely to reconfigure into the “kingdom of God Fr. Hogan speaks of. I pray we do. But my heart and mind tell me, like the angst experienced by so many others through the centuries, we will not succeed from within the hierarchical monolith. WWJD ? I think today he would do what he did 2000 yrs ago.

  9. Joe McQuiston says:

    Regarding “ORDINATION OF WOMEN”… Sr. Irene puts it well in poetry: All the way to Elizabeth and in the months afterward she wove him, pondering, “this is my body, my blood! “Beneath the watching eyes of donkey, ox, and sheep she rocked newborn crooning “this is my body, my blood!”
    In the search for her young lost boy and the foreboding day of his leaving
    she let him go , knowing “This is my body, my blood!”
    Under the blood smeared cross she rocked his mangled bones, re-membering him, moaning, “This is my body, my blood!”
    When darkness, stones , and tomb bloomed to Easter morning,
    She ran to him shouting, “this is my body, my blood!”

    And no one thought to tell her: “Woman, it is not fitting for you to say those words. You don’t resemble him.” Irene Zimmerman SSSF

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