Homily for 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
September 3, 2017
Sacred Heart, EGF – 8:00 AM; 10:00 AM
Focus: God gave you everything you have.
Function: Give out of gratitude for what you’ve been given.
Every so often, it’s good for us to stop and take an inventory of what God has given us, as well as how we’re using what he’s given us.
And what has God given us?
He has given us everything.
He has given us life.
He has given us our families and friends.
He has given us gifts and talents.
He has given us time to develop and use those gifts and talents.
He has given us treasure.
Everything that we have is a gift from God. And the gifts we have been given are not for ourselves alone, but to be used in service to God and to others. They have been given to us so that we may give them away. They have been given to us to be used for building up the Kingdom.
Every so often, it’s good for a disciple to stop and take stock of his stewardship. Stewardship is a matter of the heart. A good steward realizes what he owns is not his own but has been put into his care by another. Everything we have is a gift. A good steward realizes this and gives back to God out of gratitude for what he has been given.
Stewardship is a matter of the heart. Test your heart. What’s your attitude toward your time, your talents, and your treasure? Do you find yourself saying “This is mine” or “this is owed to me”? Do you find yourself asking “What’s in it for me?”
Or do you find yourself asking “What can I give? What can I do?”
During my first year of seminary, a wise priest gave us some advice that has made this come alive for me. Seminarians don’t receive a pay check. They receive a small stipend but it doesn’t cover very much. However, at Christmas time, people are very generous. This priest warned us that it can be very easy to begin to “count on” what others would give us at Christmas time – to begin to feel entitled to it or as if it were owed to me. And that sense of entitlement is dangerous to our spiritual lives because it erodes the sense of the gift.
He suggested a simple practice to keep this in check. He suggested that each year, as Christmas approached, but before we received our first gift, to decide on a percentage that we would give away to charity. Since these were gifts, the percentage might be higher than normal – say 20 or 30 percent.
I took him up on this challenge during my first year in seminary. It revealed a lot about my heart.
The first thing that it revealed was how easy it is to feel entitled. The more that I received, the harder it was to give away a higher amount. I found myself wanting to reduce the percentage that I had committed to giving. After all, people had given this money to me. It was mine, and I should be able to do with it what I want…but of course therein lies the trap of entitlement…
The second thing that it revealed was how much I wanted to depend on myself rather than on God. The amount that I was giving away was significantly higher than my monthly stipend. Shouldn’t I be able to count on this money to provide for my needs throughout the year? Except, of course, that everything I had received was a gift in the truest sense of the word, over and above what I could have expected to receive. God was the one providing for my needs by of the generosity of his people. I wanted to depend on myself while in reality I was completely dependent on him.
The third thing it revealed was the magnitude of the gift, of what I’d been given. At first, I found myself focusing on the large sum that I was giving away. Over time, I found that what I was giving away made me more grateful for what I got to keep. The amount I was giving away made me more aware of how much people had given, of how generous they had been toward me. It increased my gratitude for what I’d been given. What was even more powerful was that often after I had made the donations to charity, more checks would come and they would cover a large amount of what I’d just given away. God would not be outdone in generosity.
Every so often, it’s good for us to stop and take stock of our stewardship. God has given you everything you have. What is the attitude of your heart regarding what God has given you?
God gives you 168 hours every week. How do you use the time you’ve been given?
How many hours do you use to visit others, to encourage others, to serve others, to edify others? How many hours do you give back to God in prayer and in service to the Church and your community? How many hours do you use developing the gifts, skills, and talents that you’ve been given?
How much time do you give the Lord each week?
God has given you unique gifts and talents. What talents has He given you? Have you discovered all of them yet? I bet that some of them are still hidden…
He has given the gift of music and art to inspire and to lift the soul to God.
He has given the gift of writing – the ability to twist a phrase and tell a story to teach important life lessons and to convert hearts.
He has given the gift of listening, of empathy, of being a good conversationalist or a great encourager and there are people who long for a word of hope, who long for another to hear them. There are people who are homebound or in nursing homes who long for your company.
He has given the gift of athletic abilities that make us stand in wonder at what human beings are capable of.
He has given the gifts of carpentry, of woodworking, of being the handy-man who can fix anything.
Do you give your talents back to God by using them to glorify him? Do you use your God-given talents to build up the Church and the community around you? How much time to you give each week using your talents for the building up of the Kingdom?
Saint John Paul II once said that man…cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself (Gaudium et Spes, #24). God is love. The inner life of the Trinity is a continual outpouring of love – a complete and total gift of self. We are made in the image and likeness of this God. Our lives are meant to flourish in an outpouring of love. Love wills the good of another. Love builds up. One who loves makes a sincere gift of himself to another.
Brothers and sisters, every so often it’s good for us to stop and take stock of our stewardship. Here at Sacred Heart, we are celebrating September as stewardship month. We have been given this time to evaluate the state of our hearts when it comes to everything God has given us.
God gave you everything you have.
Give to him out of gratitude for everything He’s given to you.
Give to him out of gratitude even when it hurts and your life will become a living sacrifice acceptable to God. You will find that you have more than enough. Your gratitude for what you have will increase.
Peter tried to stop Jesus from giving everything he had for us because he was thinking like human beings do and not as God does. Let us learn from Peter’s mistake.
Jesus gave everything to redeem us.
He continues to give everything he has to us in this Eucharist.
Let us give to him out of gratitude for everything he’s given for us.