Saturday, September 24, 2016

Twenty Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Welcome to read homilies for the Sundays of the year. These are sample homilies which you can read with devotion. You may use them in your own homilies without asking my permission. You may also change or edit these to fit them to your audience. A unique quality of these homilies is that they are Christ-filled. From beginning to end they present to us some aspect of Jesus so that beholding his glory we “are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAB).

Our True Guides

There have been many success stories of people who engage in business using only the computer, the Internet and their credit card. This type of business is called by many names such as online business, internet marketing, online marketing, online job, job on the Internet, and so forth. It is estimated by people engaged in this type of work that for every 100 persons who try their hand on Internet business only 1 or 2 succeed. The 99 or so end up as failures. Many are scammed. Some lose interest after a month or two in this kind of work.

The majority of those who do succeed tell us that they only succeeded when they found a guide who showed them how to effectively do business online. They call this guide a mentor.

In the business of living we need true guides or mentors who will show us the way how to handle life effectively and successfully. These guides are a necessity. They are not optional. Failing to have them inevitably leads us to failure in living.

Succeeding in life is immeasurably more important than succeeding in business on the Internet. And if internet business requires a guide to succeed the more so we need guides to succeed in the business of living.

Our Gospel reading today tells us who these guides are. And the one who identifies them as our guides is one who never made an error in life and never can make such an error because he is the one who makes all success, of any kind, possible, the man Jesus.

Jesus told us who these guides are. Today he still tells us they are our guides.

In our Gospel today Jesus tells us a story. Some teachers of the Bible say that this story actually happened because Jesus used the name of a character, that of Lazarus; it is not a parable, a story made up to teach us a lesson. Whether it actually happened or was just a parable or fiction, Jesus used it to show us our true guides in the business of living.

This story has only four characters, five if we include the dogs. The characters are the unnamed rich man (who was once called Dives because dives is Latin for rich man), Lazarus, the angels and Abraham. The dogs are the fifth character.

The story is very familiar to us. After some time the rich man and Lazarus died. The rich man went to hell. Lazarus, as related by Jesus, was carried to Abraham's bosom by angels. The rich man asked help from Abraham to assuage his terrible thirst in the midst of fire. This was refused. The rich man then asked Abraham to help his five brothers so that they would not end up in hell also. Abraham told the rich man that his brothers had guides so that they would not end up where he was. Those guides are Moses and the prophets.

Of course, it was Jesus who thought up this story and it was he who put into the mouth of the character Abraham the words "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them." So it is Jesus himself using the character Abraham who says, "They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them."

Through this story Jesus is telling us today, 'If you do not want to end up like this rich man, you need to hear Moses and the prophets. These are your true guides.'

Because we live in the twenty first century after the birth of Jesus, because we have the Old and the New Testaments in our Bible, we tend to forget that in the time of Jesus and his apostles there was no New Testament yet. All they had was the Old Testament. And the Old Testament can be expressed in two words, Moses and the prophets or the law and the prophets. These were the only books for Jesus and the apostles. These were their only guides, Moses and the prophets. And they were superbly successful in their lives following these guides, except for one who made money his guide, the apostle Judas Iscariot.

Today, more than two thousand years after his birth Jesus still tells us that these are our true guides. We need to hear them and follow them. And what do they tell us to make the business of living successful? They tell us about Jesus.

Jesus once told the Jews, "Search the Scriptures (that is, the Old Testament, Moses and the prophets) for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39 AV).

In the first page of the Christian Community Bible we read these words: "You have opened the Bible; now look for Christ as you read."

The Old Testament, Moses and the prophets, are our guides to Jesus. Reading them, hearing them makes us know more of Jesus.

I will give only one instance where reading the Old Testament can give us a clearer and more intimate knowledge of Jesus.

In the first two chapters of the Old Testament, that is, in Genesis 1 and 2 we read about the creation of the world, the sun, the stars, the moon, the earth, plants, animals, and the creation of human beings. We read in the first sentence, "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth . . .". But John 1:3 tells us "Through him (the Word of God) all things came into being, and apart from him nothing came to be." Putting these two verses in our mind they tell us that it was Jesus before he became man who created the heavens and the earth.

During our recitation of the Creed we say "We believe in one God the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth." Using only these words we tend to forget that God the Father created everything by his Word and this Word is Jesus, as John the Evangelist writes, And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us, as we say in the Angelus.

If we compare this with the world of corporations, God the Father is the chairman of the board and he is ultimately responsible for everything in the corporation and Jesus the Son of God is the CEO or chief executive officer, in charge of the actual operation of the corporation.

If we realize that Jesus as God created everything and if we consider him as our dear friend, we would lovingly take care of his creation, as Francis of Assisi did. We would not indiscriminately kill insects and bugs. We would treasure the trees that Jesus causes to grow around us.

Our true guides, Moses and the prophets, lead us to Jesus. And with Jesus life is always successful. We will not end up like the rich man in the Gospel story. We will be like Lazarus, resting in the bosom of our father in faith Abraham.

Let us bow our heads in prayer. Lord Jesus, by your story about the rich man and Lazarus you point to us our guides who will lead us to know more and more about you. Help us to read the Old Testament with reverence and understanding and application so that like Lazarus we will one day rest in the bosom of Abraham, our father in faith. Amen.

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Note for the readers:

The Mass readings are from the New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE). This is where our Lectionary gets the readings.

NAB stands for New American Bible (before it was revised). This is the translation I use. Unless otherwise stated the text I use is from this translation.

AV stands for Authorized Version of the Bible. It is more commonly referred to as the King James Bible. It is the version most used in English literature, therefore it is the one known more by the English speaking world.

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