Homily: Stewardship Sunday

Each year we honor and thank all our parish volunteers that make St James such a wonderful parish to be a part of. They take care of so many things that we take for granted and their effort and time is appreciated. We call this Stewardship Sunday, But it is also a time to call all our parishioners to find their place in the ministry of St. James.

If you asked someone, “What parish do you belong to?” Invariably they will say “I go to St. So and So Church.” But a parish is more that somewhere you ‘go to’. A parish is a living, vibrant organism, kept alive by the activity of its people, powered by understanding of the Word of God and a desire to spread the Gospel.

There’s a story about a man who called a pastor one day and said he wanted to join the parish. ‘But’, he said, ‘I don’t want to be expected to go to church EVERY Sunday;’ and I don’t want to be pestered about money all the time. And don’t expect me to study the Bible’, he said, ‘or be a lector or an usher, or visit the sick, or help out with CCD classes.’

The pastor commended him for his desire to be a member of their parish. But he told the man the church he really wanted was located across town. The man took down the directions and hung up.

When he arrived at the address the pastor gave him, he came face to face with the logical consequence of his own attitude. There stood an abandoned church and several other buildings, all boarded up and ready for demolition.

Nobody really expects a parish to survive without the involvement and support of all its members. It is because of the dedication and sacrifices of all the people of St James parish that we continue to survive and to thrive. Thank you all so much. And a special thanks to all of the dedicated volunteers of our parish programs and committees.

Today’s gospel passage has Peter, speaking for all the disciples, declares confidently, “You are the Messiah.” In view of all of Jesus’ miracles in Galilee, that would have seemed an obvious conclusion.

But Jesus, almost immediately, “began” it says, “ to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly.” Jesus hopes to liberate them in a far more radical way from the bondage of sin and death.

Jesus’ rebuke of Peter created a moment of deeper insight. Peter is told to abandon being his adversary and to stand with him in the difficult time of his suffering and death.

     Life Implications

One of the most difficult challenges in the life of a Christian is the need to move from a life guided by not only by human wisdom but by human self-centeredness. There is nothing wrong with human wisdom. Nonetheless, human wisdom is not an absolute reality. It has to be subservient to a higher divine wisdom. From the teaching of Jesus, we discover that the purpose of human life is not just to acquire wealth and power but rather to direct all such human success to the divine purpose of love and service.

Jesus, in His early public life, worked tirelessly, often going without sleep, using whatever personal time He could find to go off by himself to pray. Ultimately, He came to let go of all that in order to love in a way that meant suffering and even death.

Jesus came to realize that if He were to work miracles of healing all His life, even then, He would not be able to save everyone. The salvation of the world would only come by offering up his entire self as an oblation, an offering even unto death. The suffering that comes from loving. leads to genuine happiness — a happiness that is far more satisfying than the pleasure that comes from having one’s own way most of the time.

It is this kind of unselfish loving that puts us in touch with God’s own love, It leads also to the final liberation that we call resurrection. Good Friday is not nearly as bad as it looks from the outside; and Easter Sunday is much better than we can ever imagine.

Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.     St Vincent Archabbey      Latrobe, PA




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