Friday, October 2, 2020

HOMILY – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Control


           After St. Teresa of Calcutta died in September 1997, they found a beautiful saying painted on her office wall that motivated her every day and helped her and her team do amazing things for Jesus in building up the kingdom. 

I believe the saying gets to the point of this week’s Gospel. I’ll share that with you in a minute.

My sisters and brothers, we are not the landlord, we are only the tenants.

It is not our vineyard, it is Jesus’ vineyard.

All we get to do is our little part to tend to the vineyard.

To understand this better, we need the grace of detachment – the grace to let go and let God be in charge.  

Our human desire to control things is at the heart of Jesus’ message this weekend. He knows the chief priests and the elders of the people think they are in charge in Jerusalem.

Jesus knows differently.

Isaiah reminds us what happens when we try to exert control over God’s vineyard, “Yes, I will make it a ruin: It shall not be pruned or hoed, but overgrown with thorns and briers; I will command the clouds not to send rain upon it.” 

Control leads to anxiety. Detachment leads to hope.   

Hope is letting go and letting God be in charge. Anxiety is when we believe we are in charge. This control mindset only makes us insecure, self-interested, competitive, and hungry for power. This creates social discord, usually leading to chaos and strife. God wants us to be gentle with each other and focus on what is good. Only when we let go and let God be in charge can we find peace and joy

This is the peace St. Paul is sharing in his message to the Philippians today.

Jesus knows when our lives are attuned to the will of the Creator we live in peace, and our earthly ministry prospers, bearing much fruit. But when our lives are only attuned to our own will, not the will of the Creator, we can have a destructive impact on the world.

Just think of St. Paul and his life’s actions before his encounter with Christ. He was a Pharisee who persecuted and killed many Christians, all in the name of his Jewish faith.

Then think of St. Paul’s fruitful ministry after his encounter with Christ. His actions helped spread the Gospel to places far outside of Jerusalem, produced the first words of the New Testament, and beared much fruit.

Hope comes from letting go and letting God be in charge of everything in our lives. This is how we find peace and joy. It’s how St. Francis of Assisi found joy and peace and then shared it with others.

Here’s what the sign in Mother Teresa’s office read – some have termed it the Paradoxical Commandments:

“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway. 

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway. 

The good you do today will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."

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