You Duped Me, O Lord

Homily for 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)
August 30, 2020
Sacred Heart, EGF – 8:00 AM
St. Francis, Fisher – 10:00 AM

Focus:             You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.
Function:         Embrace the Cross

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Jeremiah the prophet – a story that started out so hopeful and with so much promise.

His calling:

God speaks to him:

Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. 
Before you were born, I dedicated you. 
A prophet to the nations, I appointed you.

Beautiful words.

Jeremiah responds:

Ah, Lord God!  I do not know how to speak; I am too young!

God says:

Say not, “I am too young.”
To whomever I send you, you shall go;
whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you.

Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying to me,
See, I place my words in your mouth!

Today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,
to uproot and to tear down,
to destroy and to demolish,
to build and to plant.[1]


Jeremiah is then sent to preach the coming captivity of Jerusalem.  He is a prophet of doom.  No one wanted to hear his message.  He was rejected and branded as a traitor.  He started out with so much promise, now he finds himself suffering greatly.

And so, in his anguish, he cries out to God:

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Here is the couple, young and in love, infatuated with each other, as their wedding day approaches.  The image of family life begins at the altar with the beautiful white dress, hair perfectly in place (the groom’s and hers…), corsages bursting with color, everyone is all smiles as they exchange their “I do’s”.

Five years later, here is that same couple.  The honeymoon is over.  Dirty clothes are on the bedroom floor instead of in the hamper, kids are crying, bills are unpaid.  This one wet the bed, that one threw his orange juice on the floor, and the third one just gave his sister a haircut.

I just want a nap and some peace and quiet.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Here is the young man approaching his ordination day.  Six years of seminary have prepared him for this moment.  Soon he will be celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, anointing the sick, acting in the person of Christ to bring the sacraments to the people of God to aid them on their journey toward heaven.  He’s ordained, it’s glorious, everyone wants to hug him and receive a priestly blessing.

Here is that same man 3 years later.  Priesthood in the time of corona.  Unable to visit the hospital to anoint the sick.  Preaching the Mass of the Lord’s supper without the people of God present.  An early Sunday morning is in order as it was a busy week and the homily is not ready for the 8 AM Mass.  No more handshakes, it might spread the virus.  He visits his nieces and nephews and family life starts to look pretty good in the time of corona.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Here is the teacher preparing her lesson plans during the first year.  She is not much older than her students.  They think she’s cool.  They look up to her.  She is making a difference in their lives.

Here is that same teacher 7 years later.  Teaching to a computer screen in March, wearing a mask in front of her classroom in September.  She’s no longer that cool.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

Here is the parishioner praying to be open to God’s will…drawn to a neighbor they don’t get along with or don’t know all that well.  There’s a whisper in the heart:

“Do an act of kindness.  Stop and visit with them.”

“Really, Lord, are you sure?”

They are convicted.  Fire in the chest, a nagging thought that won’t go away. 

They do it.

The neighbor goes on and on, complaining about the world in which we live.  On the other side of the political divide.  The parishioner can’t get away.

Or the neighbor gives them a quizzical look when they stop to visit because the parishioner has never done this before.  The conversation is awkward and the parishioner leaves wondering why they even bothered.

You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped.

A heresy of our time: “the prosperity Gospel.”

“Become a disciple and you’ll be happy.”
It’s a half-truth.
You’ll be happy, yes, but that happiness comes at a cost.
The cost, the price, is the cross.

Christianity has the cross at its center.
A crossless Christianity is no Christianity at all.

The Gospel – the Good news – is that Christ suffered for us so that we could be redeemed and forgiven of our sins.

The Gospel – the Good news – is NOT that there will be no suffering.  It is that Christ suffers WITH US and FOR US.

The Gospel – the Good news – is that the Suffering of the Cross leads to the Glory of the Resurrection.

The suffering is not the end.  It is part of the path.

Jesus says, “Take up your cross and follow me.”
St. Paul says, “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.”

Lose yourselves to gain eternity.
Lose yourselves for the sake of love.

It is through the Cross that grace rushes in.

The blood of Christ that bought our redemption flows from wounded, suffering hands and feet and a pierced heart.

Throw out the cross and we throw out the means of our salvation.

Peter – denies the cross today.  Denies it 3 times during the Passion.  He will be filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and will be given the grace and strength needed for him to embrace his cross in Nero’s Circus in Rome, when he is crucified upside down for his witness to Christ.

Brothers and sisters, you too have the Holy Spirit.
You also have your cross.
Pray for the strength to carry it.

Maybe it’s not not what you expected.
It’s probably not what you’d have chosen.

But it is your call.
And there’s grace in it. 
There’s goodness in it. 
There’s beauty and life in it. 
There’s pain and suffering in it, yes, but there is also surrender and sanctification.

You duped me, O Lord, and praise God, I let myself be duped.

[1] Jeremiah, chapter 1

The Link Between the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption

Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary
August 15, 2020
Sacred Heart, EGF – 9:00 AM

The Immaculate Conception and the Assumption are closely linked. 

In the Immaculate Conception, Mary is conceived in her mother’s womb, and she is conceived free from original sin.  She is preserved from original sin so that she can bear Jesus into the world.  The gift of the redemption goes back in time and preserves Mary from sin before Christ comes into the world.

In the Assumption, Mary is assumed, body and soul, into heaven.

“The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). 

In the Immaculate Conception, Mary is preserved from original sin,
and so, it follows that:
In the Assumption, Mary is preserved from bodily decay.

Preserved from sin’s corruption in the womb,
she is also
preserved from death’s corruption in the tomb.

From the 5th century, the Church has celebrate the “dormition”, or the “falling asleep” of Mary.

From a 9th century sacramentary which was used in the celebration of the Eucharist on the feast of the Dormition of Mary:

Venerable to us, O Lord,
is the festivity of this day
on which the holy Mother of God
suffered temporal death,
but still could not be kept down
by the bonds of death, [she who has]
begotten your Son our Lord
incarnate from herself.

Christ passed from this life.
Mary passed from this life.
Her body did not see corruption.

Mary’s obedience undoes Eve’s disobedience. 
Eve’s disobedience led to four curses in Genesis:

  1. Loss of innocence
  2. Pain of Childbirth
  3. Urge for her husband who will rule over her
  4. Death

There are four events in the life of Mary where these curses become blessings:

  1. In the Immaculate Conception, Mary preserves her innocence where Eve lost it.  Mary is preserved from original sin.
  2. In the Annunciation, Mary remains a virgin while becoming a mother.  She is a Virgin Mother.  Theologians speculate that Mary brings forth Christ into the world without the pain of childbirth (which was a consequence of original sin).
  3. On Good Friday, Mary stands by her Son at the foot of the Cross.  Since the fall, to differing degrees, there has been strife in the relationship between men and women, between husbands and wives.  The relationship between Mary and Jesus is preserved rom this.  She is a companion of Christ.  She is with her son in the work of redemption.  The graces that he won for us pass through her hands on their way to us.  She intercedes for us to her son as she interceded at the wedding feast of Cana.  “They have no wine…Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:3,5)  
  4. In the Assumption, Mary is preserved from the bodily corruption resulting from death, where Even experience the corruption of death.
Eve’s Curse (from sin)Mary’s Blessing
Loss of Innocence (“their eyes were opened” (Genesis 3:7))Immaculate Conception: Preserved from Original Sin
Pain of Childbirth (Genesis 3:16)Annunciation: Virgin Mother
“Urge for your husband who will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)Good Friday: Companion of Christ
Death (Genesis 2:17)Assumption: Preserved from Corruption of the Tomb

The dogma of the Annunciation was declared in 1950.  Many of these reflections are taken from the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Pius XII called “Munificentissimus Deus” (“The Most Bountiful God”) which declared the Assumption of Mary as a dogma of the Catholic Faith.

The dogma of the Immaculate Conception had been declared in 1854 (just 96 years earlier) by Pope Pius IX.  Once that was declared, the Assumption naturally followed.  If Mary was preserved from original sin in her conception, it follows that she was preserved from the consequences of sin (death). 

Munificentissimus Deus!  The Most Bountiful God, indeed!  A God who, out of love for us, would provide a remedy for our fall – the woman who would crush the serpent!

We received the Son through her womb and her “yes”.
Now, we receive graces through her hands and her intercession.

Next Saturday, we celebrate the Queenship of Mary.

Raised to glory in Heaven,
may she be raised to glory in our hearts:
Our Mother
Our Lady
Our Queen

Pray for us,
O Holy Mother of God,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.