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9/16/18 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 131

  • From today’s second reading from the Letter of St. James: “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?”  And he goes on to say: “So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
  • The works that St. James is speaking about don’t require us to imitate the heroic lifestyles of the canonized saints…
  • These works don’t require us to quit our jobs, or abandon our families, or alter our states of life…
  • The works that St. James speaks of are the little things that we do every day in the normal course of our lives
  • In essence - Our works are the product of how we live our lives
  • The decisions that we make, the priorities that we create, the values that we hold dear
  • These are the works that speak volumes about our faith
  • Our works tell us a lot about who we really are deep inside and the faith that drives them…
  • Who we really are deep inside will sooner or later become apparent… most often in times of adversity… In situations where we’re forced to decide to either follow our conscience or take the easy way out
  • In situations where we can either hold onto our value system (despite the personal cost)… or rationalize our way into just going with the flow
  • The world judges only on appearancesbut Jesus sees our hearts
  • If we can remember this – It often makes it a whole lot easier to do the right thing in life…
  • It’s what’s in our hearts that determines our destiny...
  • From today’s Gospel Jesus asks the disciplesWho do people say that I am?”… and again… “But who do you say that I am?”
  • Jesus’ contemporaries often saw Him as a miracle worker or a great prophet… but only a few saw Him as the Son of God
  • Few were able to fully appreciate the wisdom and impact of His message…
  • The majority became fixated on Jesus’ great miracles, but failed to see the true face of the Father in Jesus’ life and teachings
  • Do we follow Jesus because of His miracles, or do we follow Him because His teachings resonate deep within our hearts?
  • Jesus’ works on this earth were many, but His greatest works didn’t involve startling miracles, but rather small acts of kindness, and mercy and forgiveness and compassion and humility
  • Jesus tells Philip in the Gospel of John (14:9)Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.”
  • It’s in these small acts of love that Jesus shows us the FatherHis Father and Our Father
  • It’s in these same works of love, that we can show others the Father as well
  • It’s in small works of kindness and love that the real miracles occur in life
  • Further along in today’s Gospel we hear Jesus proclaiming: “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me."
  • Jesus is clearly telling us that following Him will not be easy
  • To be a disciple requires discipline
  • To imitate Jesus in our daily lives requires a deep faith that fuels the discipline required to stay the course when the going gets tough
  • If Jesus’ teachings truly resonate in our hearts, then we will develop certain “non-negotiables” in our lives that we will adhere to
  • Non-negotiables such as honesty, and integrity, and honor
  • These non-negotiable principles will result in certain lines that we refuse to cross, and yield certain values that we’re willing to sacrifice for and perhaps even die for
  • Jesus goes on to declare: “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and that of the Gospel will save it.”
  • Have we ever reflected upon what Jesus means by losing your life?
  • We’ve heard over and over in the Christian life that we’re called to surrender ourselves to God... What we’re called to surrender first and foremost is our ego...
  • Our need to feel important, our need to control, our need to compare ourselves to others, our need to protect our positions, our need to look out first for ourselves... the list is endless, but the results are always the same... an alienation and an independence from God and from others...
  • It’s our ego which must be crucified with Christ, in order for the Spirit to dwell more fully within our hearts...
    • This is difficult, and usually a lifelong process for most of us...
  • We’ll never be successful in crucifying our ego’s, until we can completely internalize and rest in God’s unconditional love for us...
  • The central question for all of us is: Can we feel secure enough in God’s love, to push our ego’s into the background?
  • This is how we lose our lives and end up saving them
  • The human ego is a major obstacle to living a Christian life... because the ego cannot love others unconditionally – It can only love itself...
  • I’ll close with a quote from Father Henri Nouwen who wrote: “How different would our life be, were we truly able to trust that it multiplied in being given away!  How different would our life be, if we could but believe that every little act of faithfulness, every gesture of love, every word of forgiveness, every little bit of joy and peace will multiply and multiply as long as there are people to receive it… and that – even then – there will be leftovers!”  (Life of the Beloved; Pg. 123).


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