Thursday, December 19, 2013


27 October 2013 - Priesthood Sunday

Shared Homily Starter

1st Reading:       Sirach 35:15-17, 20-22
2nd Reading:      2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18
Gospel:                        Luke 18:9-14

Today is priesthood Sunday.  The thread that weaves through today’s readings is humility:  Humility in prayer, humility in actions and relationships. 

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend the liturgy for the installation of a local pastor.  During the service the Archbishop read the functions of a pastor from Canon 519, specifically “he carries out the functions of teaching, sanctifying, and governing.”  Obviously, I disagree with Canon 1024 that says, “Only a baptized man can validly receive sacred ordination” but I also disagree with the two of the three functions of a pastor stated in Canon 519.   First, I would substitute guiding for governing.  Second, one of the dictionary definitions of “sanctify” is “to make holy.”  Humility should tell us that God alone sanctifies.  One of the keys to holiness is humility.  Humility should further tell us that the only mediator between God and us is Jesus.  Canon Law, like the lectionary version of the first and second readings, leaves something out, humility.  Part of what was left out of the first reading is:

21 The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds,
   and it will not rest until it reaches its goal;
it will not desist until the Most High responds

Pastors, like everyone else, need to practice humility and speak honestly. 

The lectionary version of today’s second reading also has verses omitted from the scripture passage.  In these verses, we hear Paul pleading with Timothy to come soon because Demas has deserted him and their mission; Crescens, Titus, and, Tychicus have gone to spread the word in Galatia, Dalmatia and Ephesus, respectively; and, only Luke is still with him.  Paul asks Titus to bring Mark with him.  It must be chilly in jail because Paul also asks Timothy to bring his cloak, as well as his books and parchments.  Lastly, in the omitted part he warns Titus about Alexander the coppersmith, who is an opponent to their mission and message and has made trouble for Paul.

These omitted verses make Paul more human to me.  It’s Paul’s second letter to Timothy.  This time Paul’s circumstances have changed considerably for the worse.  He’s in prison in Rome─ and─ he’s feeling deserted and alone. 

With out these verses, it appears that Paul is just writing to Timothy about his trust and relationship with God.  If we don’t omit these verses, we get a glimpse of Paul’s relationship with the community as well as with God.  He reaches out and tells Timothy all that’s weighing on him.  Paul knows his letters are read to the whole community.  For me, this is another lesson for a Pastor.  God blessed us with and is present in the community.  When things overwhelm us, perhaps it’s God reminding us of that.   Paul writes,But God stood by me and gave me strength.”  I think the message for today is that there is strength that comes through community.  If Paul were writing today, the last part of that sentence mighty be, “so that through us the message might be fully proclaimed.”  This passage shows Paul’s humility in action, in his reaching out to Timothy and, by extension, the community. 

Today’s Gospel brings us back to subject of that omitted verse in the first reading “the prayer of the humble.”  This parable should be required daily reading for all pastors and a suggested daily reading for many.  We need to remember that God’s love encompasses the “thieves, rogues, adulterers,” and everyone else that society negatively labels.  We need to remember that God loves the so-called “haves” as well as the “have nots.”  The AA saying, “there but for the grace of God, go I” is not sufficient for us in light of this parable in Luke.  Rather, we should say, “There too, goes a child of God, my brother, my sister.” 

As people who try to live the Gospel, judging what is in another’s heart is not our job.”  Our job ─pastors or not─ is as it says is Micah 6:8 is “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.” 

With God’s help, may I serve you well.

Please share your thoughts.

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