The Foolishness of God’s Economy

Homily for 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
February 22-23, 2020
Sacred Heart, EGF – Saturday 5 PM; Sunday 8 AM
St. Francis, Fisher – Sunday 10 AM

Focus:       The foolishness of God’s economy
Function:  Dare to give foolishly.


Leon Bonnat - The Crucifixion

The Crucifixion
Leon Bannat

There is a lot of foolishness in the readings tonight.

Offer no resistance to one who is evil.
Turn the other cheek.
If they want your tunic, give your cloak as well.
If they force you to walk a mile, walk for two.
Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.

We are confronted tonight with utter foolishness when we might expect to hear about justice and fairness.

Justice and fairness, giving another his due for his labor, these are the virtues upon which any respectable economy is built.

I do this for you, you do that for me.
Tit for tat.
Debit and credit.

So what are we to make of the foolishness with which we find ourselves confronted tonight?

Only this, I think:

God has a different kind of economy.[i]

Our economy is an economy of transactions.
God’s economy is an economy of freely giving.

Our economy keeps a record of debts.
God’s economy forgives debts.

Our economy is an economy of justice.
God’s economy is an economy of love and charity.

Our economy is an economy of filling up our bank accounts with the treasures of this world.

God’s economy is an economy of self-emptying love, of kenosis,
the self-emptying love of Christ Jesus, who
though he was in the form of God,
did not deem equality with God something to be grasped at.
Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance… (Philippians 2)

Foolishness.

In our economy, a person is expendable and replaceable.
In God’s economy, no one is expendable nor replaceable.

In God’s economy, there is no transgression, no sin, that cannot be forgiven so long as I am willing to ask for that forgiveness.

And perhaps the greatest foolishness of all:
We bring forward ordinary bread and wine, common elements, worth basically nothing.  Through the prayer of a priest, God transforms them into the Body and Blood of Christ, a priceless treasure beyond the measure of any worth, and it is freely given to us.

Foolishness.

In God’s economy, we are to become the fools, fools for Christ and fools for the sake of love.

Listen again to the words of that fool St Paul:

If anyone among you considers himself wise in this age,
let him become a fool, so as to become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God.

In the wisdom of the world, it makes no sense to give up on collecting what is owed to me. I hang onto that invoice and demand payment.

In the eyes of God, it makes no sense to hang on to that invoice, because whatever is owed to me by another has already been more than paid by the precious blood of Christ that paid the debt of my sins and opened for me the way to eternal life.

We owed a debt that could not be paid and in justice we deserved Hell. God sent his son to die in our place and paid the debt for us.
That is foolishness! The foolishness of God!

We’ve won the lottery through Christ’s sacrifice for us, and yet we keep track of a couple of measly dollars that someone else owes to us. Some of those dollars are physical and material, but I am talking mostly of those spiritual dollars that we carefully track: the grudges, the hurts, the wrongs done to us whether they be perceived or real. We hold on to those invoices and continue to debit and credit the accounts of others when our accounts which had been maxed out have been wiped clean.
That is foolishness!

We want to receive God’s mercy but we want to deny mercy to others.
That is foolishness!

Brothers and sisters,
We can only show mercy to others when we allow ourselves to accept the mercy that God freely offers. Some say, “I don’t deserve it.” They’re right. If we deserved it, it would be justice.  Because we don’t deserve it, it’s called mercy.

The challenge of the foolishness that surrounds us tonight is simply this:
Let us not ground our relationships in debts and demands, in rights and duties, but in the generosity of love. If we do that, the Kingdom of God will break into our midst.

We must burn all of the spiritual invoices that we hold against our brothers and sisters, we must empty ourselves of the grudges, the hurts, the resentments that we hold
if we are going to be able to accept the mercy and love of God in our own lives.[ii]

Is this foolishness? Absolutely, it is foolishness. Foolishness in the eyes of the world.

But it is love that makes us fools.

Have you ever seen a young couple in love?
Love makes us do foolish things for the sake of the beloved.
I imagine many of you have experienced that yourselves.

It is worth becoming a fool for the sake of love, because a fool in love lives a full life.


[i] One of the most inspiring homilies that I heard during my years of seminary formation at Saint Meinrad was given by Fr. Denis Robinson, OSB, our president-rector, on the occasion when my classmates and I declared our candidacy, which is a step toward priestly ordination where the Church officially recognizes that we are being considered as candidates for the priesthood. I found inspiration for this homily in his, which can be found here:
http://substancehopedfor.blogspot.com/2015/11/candidacy-homily.html

[ii] Fr. Jacques Philippe, The Eight Doors of the Kingdom: Meditations on the Beatitudes (New York: Scepter Publishers Inc, 2018), 161-164.

 

You are the Light of the World

Homily for 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
February 8/9, 2020
Sacred Heart, EGF – Saturday 5:00 PM; Sunday 8:00 AM

Focus:             You are the light of the world.
Function:         Let your light shine.


candles_table_black_dark-24664

Your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

 Two extremes in Christianity, neither is the gospel.

  1. Doing good deeds SO THAT they may be seen.
    • “Look at me; look at me; look at me”
    • “Look how holy I am”
    • Impure motivation: the goal is to be seen
    • The focus is not Christ; the focus is me.
  1. Not doing good deeds so that I may remain hidden
    • Doing so in the name of humility – the opposite vice of #1. A false humility
    • “playing small”
    • Mediocrity

The Christian way: Let your light shine, so that they may see your good deeds.

Let it shine.

Christ is the light of the world.
He dwells in your soul because of your baptism.
He wants to shine within you.
He wants to break out of you and to bring light to those in darkness.

Brothers and sisters,
There’s a lot of responsibility that goes with being the light of the world.[i]
Too often we are afraid to shine.
Too often we afraid to stand out, to draw attention to ourselves.
“Let your light shine” not “force your light to shine to draw attention to yourself”

“Let it“ is passive.
Allow it, don’t force it.

Let your light shine, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

Become who you were made to be. A Saint!

Be a person who spends time with Jesus,
be a person who prays,
and then let God do with you what he will.

Don’t stand in his way. Don’t stifle the spirit. Don’t play small.
Your playing small doesn’t glorify God.

How do we play small?

When we focus on “not being darkness” instead of on “letting our light shine”.

Sometimes we sin more by “what we have failed to do” than by “what we have done”.[ii]

  • Sins of commission are easier to see.
    • The Ten Commandments.
    • “What I’ve done but shouldn’t have done”
    • The works of darkness
  • Sins of omission – “what I should have done but did not do”.
    • Corporal and spiritual works of mercy
    • The Beatitudes
    • The works of light

We are called to so much more in life than “don’t sin”. We are called to love!
We are called to so much more in life than avoiding darkness. We are called to be light!

How do we let our light shine?

Simply be a person who prays and then do your part in the situations that present themselves to you. Do that, and your light will shine.

Let your light shine.

The Christian is a candle, the flame is Christ. A candle’s purpose is to let the light shine. It doesn’t make it shine, it lets it shine.

Victor Frankl: “what is to give light must endure burning.”

The Paschal Mystery: the candle dies to itself to bring life and light to others.
So must the Christian, the light-bearer. We die to ourselves so that others may live.
Charity – dying to ourselves for the good of the other.

Brothers and sisters, is your light still shining? Is your candle burning? Or has it burnt out?

Light doesn’t fight darkness as in a back-and-forth boxing match. Light dispels darkness where it’s present, and even a small candle in a dark room dispels a lot of darkness.

Do small things, but don’t play it small.
Do small things with great love.

You have the light within you – let it shine!
Ask him what he wants you to do, then do it!
Be not afraid of the darkness, light cannot be overcome by darkness! The light always overcomes the darkness.

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.


[i] Fr. Ron Knott, Conference for Priests of the Diocese of Crookston on “The Jonah Complex: The Convenience and Selfishness of Playing Small”, June 11, 2019.

[ii] Fr. Ron Knott, Conference for Priests of the Diocese of Crookston on “The Jonah Complex: The Convenience and Selfishness of Playing Small”, June 11, 2019.