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07/22/18 Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 107

  • From our second reading: “For He is our peace, He who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that He might create in Himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it.”
  • St. Paul is speaking about the divisions that existed between the Jews and the Gentiles of his time…
  • Jesus came to bring humanity together, yet we remain a divided people in so many ways…
  • We rely upon laws to govern ourselves… But laws alone are not enough…
  • We cannot legislate civility, or compassion, or mercy, or forgiveness
  • We need more if we’re to break down the barriers that divide us as a nation and as a world…
  • Jesus came to help us fill that gap…
  • The Pharisees were completely reliant upon the laws of their day… They were in essence the first “legalists…”
  • As practicing Christians we should realize that everything that’s legal isn’t necessarily right
  • The Pharisees were masters of following the letter of the law, but missed the spirit of the law
  • Jesus taught us that there is one overriding law that infuses all of the commandments: The law of love
  • In everything that we do, we’re called to follow the spirit of God’s laws - Which requires us to choose love over fear
  • Those are really the only two choices that we have in life when you get to the essence of each decision that we make each day…
  • Great men and women have one very important characteristic in common... They believe in someone or something greater than themselves...
  • They understand that they’re not the masters of their lives...
  • They realize that there’s more to this life than we can appreciate on its surface...
  • And thus - They have a depth of character that allows them to more often choose love over fear...
  • Love gives everything… but it also asks for everything...
  • Love requires us to surrender ourselves completely to God, trusting that good always comes from our willingness to choose love… 
  • We’re not going to bat a thousand in our choices each day…
  • We’re human, and we’ll make mistakes, but what matters to God is that we make an honest effort…
  • It’s not always easy choosing love… Our ego’s and the world’s wisdom will fight us every step of the way…
  • The wisdom of the world cannot save us from ourselves
  • We can’t give love, until we’re fully able to receive love - And it has to start with self acceptance
  • If you’ve been carrying something around in your life that’s weighing you down… Bring it to God for healing through the Sacrament of Reconciliation…
  • Don’t waste another minute dragging yourself through life in self condemnation…
  • Forget about being worthy – It was never about worthiness – It was always about love
  • If we’re not convinced of God’s deep love for us, how can we ever share that love with others?
  • Until we’re able to believe in God’s deep and abiding love for us… We’re going nowhere in the spiritual life
  • From today’s responsorial psalm: The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want…
  • We’re all Shepherds, and we’re all Sheep...
  • As shepherds, we’re called to be men and women of integrity and character...
  • Our world is full of lost sheep, and in desperate need of Good Shepherds...
  • As Shepherds in our own right... There are eyes watching us, looking for guidance...
  • Each of us are called to make a positive difference in the lives of those we touch…
  • We can’t tell people about Jesus – We must show them Jesus in the way we live our lives...
  • Brennan Manning wrote: “The one who talks, especially if he talks to God, can affect a great deal,” (writes philosopher Maurice Blondel), “but the one who acts really means business, and has more claim on our attention.  If you want to know what a person really believes, don’t listen to what he says, but watch what he does.”  (A Glimpse of Jesus, Pg. 104-105).
  • As sheep – We’re called to be obedient to our Shepherd...
  • The Latin roots of the word obedience, literally mean “to hear” or “to listen...”
  • But to who or what are we to listen?
  • We’re to listen to our heart... to our conscience...
  • Obedience in the Spiritual sense doesn’t preclude asking questions, because that’s how we learn...
  • Obedience in the Spiritual sense is about being attentive to God speaking to us, deep within our hearts...
  • Cardinal John Henry Newman stressed the primacy of conscience in the Christian faith journey.…
  • To be obedient in a Spiritual sense is to be attentive to the voice of our conscience...
  • This doesn’t mean that we throw away reason or common sense, it means that we discipline ourselves to make some quiet time each day to still ourselves; so we can listen for God’s voice, and use both our faith and our reason to better follow God’s plan for our lives...
  • I’ll close with a quote from Father Richard Rohr who wrote: “What we know about God is important, but what we do with what we know about God is even more important.”  (Everything Belongs; Pg. 128.)

 

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