August 21, 2016

Fr. Butler's Homily for the 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 21, 2016, Year C

Fr. René J. Butler, M.S.
Provincial Superior, La Salette Missionaries of North America
Hartford, Connecticut


Often enough in families people can feel they are taken for granted. They do so much, and others don’t seem to notice, or even care, much less help.

The same sort of thing happens sometimes in parishes. When volunteers are needed, people think, “so-and-so will do it.” Always the same persons are expected to respond.

Then comes a time when so-and-so can’t do it any more—or won’t—and either of two things happens. The activity in question simply dies, or someone else responds to the need, only to become the new “so-and-so” that gets tapped for everything.

No one likes being taken for granted.  It’s clear from today’s Gospel that Jesus doesn’t either. To avoid taking him for granted, there are two very important things all Christians need to do.

First, really believe in Jesus. This is not simply admiration for his goodness, or a general acceptance of his teaching. That might seem to some to be “good enough” but it is not. Rather, it believing in Jesus calls for a deep, strong, personal relationship with him, a solid reliance on him, what our Evangelical brethren refer to as “claiming the Lord Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior.”

Second, really follow Jesus. This is not some vague membership, like a fan club, in which paying of dues, for example, might be good enough. Today’s reading from Hebrews speaks five times about discipline. The author exhorts his readers not to get discouraged, not to give up. These times of testing will bring “the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” We might say, paraphrasing slightly the first reading, that this constitutes a kind of cleansing, enabling us to “bring our offering to the house of the Lord in clean vessels.”

We cannot, may not, must not take Jesus for granted.

A friend of mine recently met a former acquaintance, and addressed her by name. The name was right, but the other woman didn’t remember her at all. The encounter was  confusing and mildly embarrassing, but ultimately of no importance. It just goes to show that we can’t simply take for granted that people remember us.

The Gospel scene, on the other hand, is of vital importance. None of us wants to come before the Lord only to hear him say, “Who are you that I should remember you?”

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