September 18, 2022 – Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
I will be delivering the following homily at St. Pius X Parish in Indianapolis today:
I have always found it fascinating how Scripture speaks to us in the moment. Over the years, I have preached at a number of youth retreat Masses. When told what the theme of the retreat was for that given day, I turned to the readings of the day and sure enough – a passage jumped off the page that spoke to that topic.
Even if I had already prepared a homily and they came to me at the last minute and asked me to preach on a different topic (and that has happened), I could go back to those same scripture readings and a different passage presented itself – one that provided insight into the new topic.
I bring this up because we have two “themes” at St. Pius this weekend. First, we celebrate the installation of our new statues and the moving of our tabernacle into the sanctuary. Second, we take the opportunity to thank our ministry volunteers – particularly our catechists on this Catechetical Sunday – and invite parishioners to participate in the many ministries of our parish.
Knowing this was the case, I read the readings for this weekend through those lenses. Sure enough, Scripture didn’t disappoint.
In Paul’s First Letter to Timothy, he wrote: “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ, who gave himself as ransom for all.”
What better reminder of “one mediator between God and men” is there than the Eucharist itself – the Source and Summit of our faith? We honor that relationship by bringing the tabernacle front and center. It reminds us in a very real way that he is present, that we are joined to and part of the Body of Christ.
With that commitment established, in today’s Gospel we listen in on the locker room speech Jesus gave his disciples. The disciples had been grumbling – they felt too much was being asked of them. In addition to all that Jesus expected of them, they had external pressures and responsibilities, in addition to having to meet the needs of their families.
So, Jesus was rallying his team. He ended with the challenging declaration: No servant can serve two masters. In other words, “Stay focused on the task at hand, on what matters most.” Jesus was telling his disciples, “I need you to be all in on being my disciples.”
Jesus was teaching his disciples how to be good and faithful stewards.
Stewardship is the caring for those things with which we’ve been entrusted. When the Church encourages faithful stewardship, it asks us to share our God-given time, talent, and treasure with others – to actively participate in the Body of Christ. Notice that we don’t say time, talent, or treasure. Like Jesus, the Church is encouraging us to be all in on our commitment to the faith, sharing our gifts to further the cause of the greater community. We are part of something much bigger than ourselves. We are called to be Christocentric rather than egocentric.
I am in my sixties now. When I reflect back on my life, I have much for which to be grateful and am pleased with most of the choices I’ve made. However, I have regrets as well. Most of my regrets are not about things I’ve done, but rather things I have not done – times I did not take advantage of opportunities put before me.
For instance, I wish I had been more engaged with my high school and college experiences. I tended to look ahead to what was next and wasn’t present in the moment. I wasn’t all in – there was not much depth to my experience. I studied enough to get the grades I needed; I worked hard enough at practice to get in the game; I had a close group of friends, but missed out on opportunities to interact with a lot of great people. Quite simply, I lacked commitment.
The same could be said of my faith life for the first half of my life. I went through the motions, checking off the boxes of what I was told was required. I was there physically, but not present – I was not there mentally, spiritually, or emotionally. Again, I lacked commitment.
I think many of us have had similar experiences. How often have we said to ourselves, “If I had it to do all over again, I would do it differently – I would be so much better at it now.” If only we possessed the wisdom of years when we really needed it. If I knew then what I know now, I would have been a much better student, athlete, friend, and disciple.
Regrets can cause us to do one of two things. They can sink our feet in cement as we wallow in self-pity, dwelling on the past and allowing it to impact the present. On the other hand, our regrets can help us gain a healthy perspective. They can lead us to better focus on the here and now – what can I do now to ensure I don’t have similar regrets in the future? Twenty years from now, I don’t want to be reflecting on the fact that I have continued on the same path and now have even more regrets to add to my list.
As I have indicated, there are several areas of our lives for which we may have regrets. For our purposes today, let’s focus on our faith journey. We can do that by asking ourselves how we have responded to the challenge of Jesus – to be all in on discipleship.
When we come forward to receive the Eucharist later in the Mass, the minister will say, “Body of Christ” – to which we will reply, “Amen.” That “Amen” is a commitment. We are saying “Yes, I believe this is the Body of Christ. I believe He is truly present in the Eucharist.” What we have said implies that we are all in as a disciple, but do our actions reflect that commitment? Are we active participants in the Body of Christ?
Once we receive the Eucharist, we become His steward. How do we care for the Body of Christ once received? Do we reflect the light of Christ out to the world? Do we love and serve others or focus on our own needs?
The parish offers many ministries whose purpose is to serve others. Such work takes many hands. We are asked to discern how we might serve the parish and the greater community as active members of the Body of Christ. Let’s not look back with regret that we didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to serve others – let’s be present in the moment.
Jesus reminded His disciples they could not serve two masters. Who do we serve?