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07/28/19 Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary time - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 111

  • In our first reading we see Abraham bargaining with God on the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah…
  • Although Abraham’s intentions were good - God is not in the business of tearing down and destroying… God is in the restoration business
  • The whole of Jesus’ life and teachings are about building up human beings… they’re about healing wounds, and restoring lives
  • The majority of the problems that we face are man made...
  • Jesus’ life and teachings showed us how to live a full and meaningful life… the Father gave us the gift of free willthe ability to think and choose how we will live… and Jesus and the Father sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us along the way...
  • As we reflect upon the ills of the world… whom shall we blame?
  • Abraham was a man of action – He was persistent… and Jesus stresses the value of persistence in today’s Gospel…
  • Persistence and actions are valuable tools in life... but even the greatest persistence and actions by themselves, cannot move mountains… 
  • Our persistence and actions alone are not enough
  • Persistence and actions must always be accompanied by prayer… and prayer must always be accompanied by persistence and actions...
  • We’re not called to merely sit back and expect God to fix our world through prayer alone... We’re called to respond to the Grace received in prayer, through our persistence and our actions
  • Prayer must always be accompanied by a willingness to do what is in our power to right a wrong...
  • God will not do for us what we’re capable of doing ourselves… Nor will God ask us to do what only God can do
  • Practicing our faith isn’t intended to yield a free ticket to heaven… it’s intended to help us bring forth the kingdom of Godone person at a timestarting with us...
  • God gave us gifts that no other living thing has… How we use these gifts is entirely up to us…
  • From today’s Gospel: “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives;
    and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened
    …”
  • I remember a cartoon of a mother telling her young son: “God answers all prayers… but sometimes the answer is no…”
  • We should all take that simple wisdom to heart…
  • Some of the greatest blessings in life often come from what we might refer to as “Unanswered prayers”…
  • We can often mistakenly believe that we know what’s best for us and for others
  • And this mistaken belief can sometimes cause us to persist in actions that we believe will achieve our dreams and our goals… only to hit one dead end after another…
  • This happens most often when our persistence and our actions overpower our prayer life
  • I know from my own life experiences that when I got ahead of God, it was always an uphill battle that eventually lead to dead ends… but when I allowed God to lead, things usually fell into place…
  • Prayer directs our persistence and our actions to have maximum effect
  • Through prayer we discern what we’re called to accept and what we’re called to challenge and try to change... 
  • There’s no magic here… None of this will guarantee that we won’t face hardships and disappointments in our lives… but it will help us to find meaning in our setbacks and allow them to be redemptive
  • When we learn to balance prayer and actionWe’ve found the key to a meaningful and fulfilling life
  • From Matthew 7:16 – “By their fruits you will know them…”
  • Talk is cheap... what we say is not always representative of who we really are...
  • We can fake a lot in this life... but at the end of the day we can’t fake who we truly are - Who we are is made clear by the life that we choose to live...
  • The fruits of our lives can tell us a lot about who we really are...
  • The fruits of our lives are found in the remnants of our lives that we leave behind as we progress through life...
  • It’s our legacy that tells our story and truly represents our lives...
  • Life is much bigger than any single individual and yet life is dependent upon every individual.
  • The kingdom of God is at hand… it lives in each of us
  • The question for all of us is whether we will let it lie dormant within us, or whether we will, through prayer, persistence, and action, choose to bring it forth into the world…
  • Our world is desperate for Grace.…
  • And God’s Grace is made manifest most often through individuals who through prayer, persistence, and action allow the Holy Spirit to guide them to do what’s right rather than what’s convenient
  • Character, integrity, nobleness, and selflessness resonate in us...
    • They resonate within us because they remind us what we were created for...
    • They resonate within us because they remind us what the kingdom of God is all about...
    • They resonate within us because they renew and refresh the Spirit that dwells within us...
  • Settling for anything less than who we were created to be is not only an injustice to ourselves but also to God Who created us for so much more than we can imagine...
  • How long will we continue to be distracted by the noise and allurements of this passing world and ignore our destiny?
  • The world in and of itself is not inherently evil… It’s us who can often forget who we are and What we’re called to become
  • I’ll close with a quote from Henri Nouwen who wrote: “Prayer and action… can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive.  Prayer without action grows into powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates into questionable manipulation.  If prayer leads us into a deeper unity with the compassionate Christ, it will always give rise to concrete acts of service.” (The Only Necessary Thing, Pg. 139).

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