January 18, 2017
Jesus entered the synagogue.
There was a man there who had a withered hand.
They watched Jesus closely
to see if he would cure him on the sabbath
so that they might accuse him. (Mark 3:1-6)
The following homily was originally delivered at a Bishop Chatard High School Mass in 2014:
Today’s Gospel is about eating at Subway. I go to Subway whenever I am trying to convince myself I need to eat healthier. I order turkey on whole wheat, no cheese. Lots of veggies, hold the mayo. I top it off with a Diet Coke to go. Low calorie, very healthy.
Then, as the cashier is ringing up my order, I say, “And three cookies, please.”
Subway cookies are the best. And you have to get three, right? They’re three for $1.00. Who would just buy one?
I follow the rules of healthy eating, right up until I order the cookies.
Mrs. Wagner uses this same logic when she goes shopping. She brings home several bags. She shows me the clothes she bought for one of our kids. She is so proud because they were such great deals. They were all on sale! Then she adds, “And with the money I saved, I bought these two outfits for Ellie!” (Ellie is our granddaughter.)
She followed the rules of cost efficient shopping, right up until she bought the two extra outfits.
I think we are all guilty of this to some degree. We attempt to mentally justify our questionable actions. We have done something good, so maybe it entitles us to do something not so good.
Which brings me to today’s Gospel. The Pharisees were rule followers. They watched Jesus carefully, trying to “catch Him” breaking the sabbath.
The Gospel goes on to say, Jesus looked around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart…
Jesus must have been thinking, “Are you kidding Me? I have seen the things you do. You lie, and steal, and commit adultery. You have evil thoughts and you act on them.
You claim to be a God-fearing, faith-filled people. Based on what? The fact that you don’t do any manual labor on the sabbath? Following some laws and customs does not give you the right to do all of these other things.”
Buying turkey on whole wheat doesn’t mean you can get three cookies.
What do we take away from this?
It’s great that you are a good friend to hang out with, spending time with your friends and enjoying one another’s company. Doing that, however, does not mean its OK for you to avoid a friend who is going through a difficult time because it makes you uncomfortable. You’re either a good friend or you’re not.
Telling your parents that you love and appreciate them is a true gift to them, but saying those words does not make it acceptable for you to treat them with disrespect by your actions. You’re either a loving son or daughter or you’re not.
Going to Mass and spending time in prayer can provide a great foundation for a faith-filled life. Doing these things, however, does not give you a free pass to ignore God at other times, or disregard your call to love and serve Him and others. You’re either a follower of Jesus Christ, or you’re not.
God doesn’t want us to live a balanced life when it comes to loving Him. He wants the scales tipped in His favor. He wants us to be all in.
If your plan is to be a follower of Jesus Christ, don’t order the cookies.