Homily for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time
- Written by Friar Shane Nicholas
Saturday 8th week of Ordinary Time
Gospel Mk 11:27-33
When I was about 15 years old, my Mom’s oldest brother spent a week with us. He was a Marine, and a Viet Nam veteran. He wanted to go climbing in one of the mountains nearby and I begged Mom to let me go with him. She finally agreed.
After several hours I was exhausted and asked my Uncle if I could head back down to the picnic area below. He said yes, but he wanted to keep on going up for a bit more. So I began climbing back down over the boulders and through the ravines. At one point, I heard a growling and I knew that ahead of me somewhere was a mountain lion. But I didn’t know where. I was terrified. If I made the wrong choice I could walk up on it while it was feeding or hunting and then I would be the mid-afternoon snack. But I knew not moving wasn’t an option either.
So I chose to work my way down the longer way, hoping to bypass the big cat.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus set a challenge to the priests, scribes and elders that questioned his authority to teach and perform miracles. He forced them into choosing either left or right by asking them where John got his authority. They were afraid to answer him. Either they had to admit who and what he was, or deny it and face the people who held John the Baptist as a holy man and a prophet.
Every day we are placed into similar situations. Do I choose left or right? And if I choose incorrectly, what is the consequence? Sometimes we choose wisely and sometimes we don’t – that’s life.
Obviously I made it down the mountain safely. What I didn’t know until a year or so later, was that my uncle was watching me and he was watching the mountain lion. If I had chosen the wrong path, he was watching and was there to protect me. It is the same way in our lives now. We may not always make the right choices, but God is there to protect us. Not necessarily from getting banged up and bruised, because we do need to learn, but he is there with us through it all, protecting the most important part of us – our souls.
Fear can freeze us in our tracks. Not moving is worse than making a choice. Fear will always be a part of our humanness. Faith in God, faith in his love and compassion is what will keep our feet moving in the right direction – toward him.
Thoughts about the Vow of Chastity
- Written by Friar Shane Nicholas
((This is a repost of an earlier blog post))
Most people when they hear “Vow of Chastity” immediately think “Vow of NO Sex.” But this vow is much more faceted than that. Of course in the Roman Rite the vow of chastity means that you will not engage in a personal relationship with another person – no dating, no relationship, no marriage, and yes, no sex.
Fortunately we vow Chastity within our state in life – in other words, if we are married then we vow Married, or Single – committed relationship, or Single, or even Celibate – if that is how we are called by God.
But there are other facets to this vow. When we vow chastity we are also vowing to be chaste with God. We are saying “you are the one I serve,” “There is no other God than you!” “You are all I desire in the land of the living,” “you are my refuge, my strength and my hope!”
We vow chastity to serve God and Him alone. It is a deeper commitment than just “giving up” a human relationship or sex or dating. Chastity is saying to God – I will serve you in prayer and worship; I will serve you in the hungry, the homeless; I will serve you in the desperate and marginalized; I will serve you in your people – ALL your people.
I pray for the words that can express the deepness of Chastity, or the words to explain the rainbow colors that make this vow blessed. But sadly the words do not come.
I was having a wonderful discussion with my “Jewish Mom” yesterday, and as always, we discussed many things. But what we discussed hinged on what it means to be community. As always I was picking her brain to understand Judaism. And she made a comment that struck home!
She said: “I was at Mt. Sinai with Moses and the Israelite’s. I was a part of the Diaspora, and I was in the concentration camps.” Obviously, she isn’t that old. But I understood what she meant! As a Jewish person today, she was still there throughout the history of her people even till today. There is the sense of “continuity” (for lack of a better word.) Although she is American born, because of her faith and belief, she shared in the ups and the downs of the Israelite's.
And then a light bulb went off in my head.
Our Christian faith began and was founded within Judaism, we too were at Mt. Sinai, we too were part of the Diaspora, and because they were/and are our Jewish brothers and sisters, we too were in the concentration camps with them.
I think we have lost the sense of community, of a shared history, a shared bond. But Chastity calls us to remember that we are committing ourselves to love and serve God, and each other. That being Christian is not just something we do on Sunday; everyday of our lives should be spent in His service.
In how we treat and respect those we work with, are in charge of, and work for. In how we treat the person walking down the street, or riding the bus with us. In how we treat the grocery shopper in line ahead of or behind us; In how we live our lives. IS our life the shining light that can’t be hid under a basket? Or is our life something we are afraid to even tell our priest about in the sacrament of reconciliation? Can our lives stand up to the bright shining light that chases away the shadows?
Of course we will all have our shadows – we’re human. But God is merciful with us, God is faithful with us, God is Chaste with us.
Can we say the same?
Are we chaste with God?
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