((Homily for the 23rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B)) 
 
When I was 18 I remember going through a period of time where I couldn't sleep. I was stressed and torn up about who I was, what I was. And I wasn't able to come to grips with myself.  I remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror, staring at my reflection. And I said the words for the first time out loud. "I'm gay."  I started crying and wanted to look away from my reflection. It was broken, wrong, and not who or what I was supposed to be.  but I forced myself to keep looking. And I said it again and again and again - "I'm gay!" 
 As I stood there, tears pouring down my face, I realized a few things. The world hadn't stopped spinning. I wasn't struck down by God with a lightening bolt.  But I also realized - I was exactly as God created me to be. And most importantly - He loved me just the way I was.
 
Our readings   today all speak of healing. Emotional, physical, and social. 
 
Isaiah in our first reading gives us the promise of the coming Messiah. That he is our vindication, he will open the eyes of the blind, and the ears of the deaf, and the tongues that cannot speak will give him praise.  
In our Gospel today, Mark sees that Jesus is the fulfillment of God's promise to us in Isaiah. Jesus cures the sick, heals the broken, makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.  But Jesus also tells them not to tell anyone. Why? 
 
Well, one reason is the fact that as word gets out, as we know it does, the crowds get larger and larger, and He has no time to eat or pray, and I'd bet sleep.  Also, He doesn't want the miracle being the end all of it.  He is not just there to perform signs and wonders.  The healings were from God and should draw the people back into a closer relationship with God. There were many healers in Jesus' time - he wanted them to see and hear that this was more and not get wrapped up in just the miracle. 
 
The reading from James also draws us to not only heal ourselves with God's help, but to be healing for others.  Don't favor the rich man just because he is rich. Don't favor the pretty just because they are pretty.  Don't favor the well dressed, just because they are well dressed.  Treat everyone as equals regardless of the thickness of their wallet, regardless of their education, regardless of their social standing.  When it comes to the table of God's word and the Table of the Eucharist, each of us are found lacking - the rich, the poor, the famous. 
 
James draws us to focus on how we are as a church, the body of Christ. We know Jesus came to call sinners. He ate and drank with the poor and outcast of his day.  Many that followed him were desperate, lonely, broken. Even he and his disciples were homeless, wandering from town to town, living off of the generosity of others. And we are reminded not to look down on someone because of how poorly they are dressed; not to look down on someone because of their social status - or lack of. 
 
We are called to heal ourselves first of all.  And this is not always an easy process, and never painless. We have to see ourselves for who we really are - sinners just like everyone else, in need of God's healing and grace. We need to find those areas of our attitudes, our beliefs, our hard heartedness and give them to God.   So that we can overcome them.  And this is a life long process. We are never truly done with our own conversion.  But while we are healing: 
 
We are called to be healing to all.  Often times the rich don't want to hear this.  They want to feel secure in their wealth.  And having wealth is not in and of itself a bad thing.  But we must realize that it is all a gift from God and should be used as such. Not horded to the point of allowing others to starve and wander the streets because they have no place to go.  
Often the rich don't want to hear the truth. They pick and choose what they want to hear and what they want to believe. Leaving the painful choices to others. Like those that choose to follow the "Prosperity Gospel" being preached by so many false prophets and televangelists. But St. Augustine said: "If you believe what you like in the Gospel and reject what you do not like, it is not the Gospel you believe but yourself." 
 
We are to give of ourselves, even when it hurts. As our Blessed Mother did, standing there at the foot of the cross, watching her Son die so that all might live. She united her heart with that of her Son, knowing - perhaps not knowing exactly how, but knowing that God would take it and make it more than any could imagine. 
 
We are about to celebrate Christ's great gift to us - the Eucharist. As we receive the body and blood of Jesus, allow Him to make you anew and lead a life of true obedience, humble service to all, and unconditional love for one another. 

 

 

Homily for 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time by Rev. Br. Shane Nicholas, AIHM

 

We all know the public work of a shepherd protecting the flock from predators and gathering the lost little ones and getting them back into fold.  What most don't know is what happens behind the scenes.  Here is the rest of the story.

 

Milking twice a day, treating scrapes, rotating pastures to help with parasites, treating parasites, trimming hoofs to avoid hoof rot and in-grown hoofs, helping to kid,  cleaning out the barn, stacking endless 75 pound bales of hay and 50 pound bags of grain, and although it may sound odd, just sitting in the barn or corral being with them, petting on them, talking to them....and the list goes on. All of this is being a good Shepherd.

 

Last week Bishop Joseph challenged us and reminded us that it was the job of the laity to take peace and reconciliation out into our daily lives.

 

Today I want to extend that job some. 

 

None of us live in a vacuum. We cannot exist without other people.  And no, you are not the center of the universe, the world does not revolve around you. Or me! Being human and being Christian calls us to share our lives, the ups and the downs, with others...it's called community.

 

We are each of us called to be Christ to one another. So, what does that mean? You are called to be love to each and every person you meet or interact with. We are called to be compassionate, forgiving, and show mercy to everyone.  This doesn't mean we are a doormat and allow others to use us. But all that we do must be done with unconditional love.  This means that all of us are to help shepherd.  Priests and Bishops can minister to those who come for it but you as laity are tasked with helping to tend the flock. 
As laity you are charged to help bind up the wounds, be a strong pair if shoulders for those that need to lean on you, be a listening ear when someone needs to talk or vent, having a warm hug and dry shoulders if someone needs to cry, to help with the day to day care of our family....the human family. We are called to love every person, regardless.  

 

The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of what the laity are called to do.  Tend the sick and the dying, comfort those in need, feed the hungry, clothe the naked. TO BE CHRIST EVEN TO THE PERSON YOU DON'T KNOW: TO BE LOVE. Paul, in our second reading says: "he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity."  It is no longer us and them, you and me. It really is just US.

 

In our Gospel today Jesus tells the disciples to come away to a deserted place and rest a while. But the people kept coming. Jesus looked out on the huge crowd that gathered around him and had pity saying they were like sheep without a Shepherd. He didn't send them away or ignore them.  And although the disciples had just returned from their first mission work, he didn't tell them to go ahead and rest. He set aside his own hunger, his own fatigue, his own needs, because the flock needed tending. And he asked the disciples to do the same. And he again began teaching them.

 
 

Today I challenge each of you to assist the Shepherd in tending the flock; to offer your own unique person to person care and compassion. And I want each of you to ponder on this question: How am I called to serve my human family?