XXII Sunday of Ordinary Time
August 30, 2015
It is difficult to preach a message intended more for the preacher than for the people. While the more general teaching Jesus gives to the crowd regarding what truly corrupts or defiles applies to everyone, Jesus’ directs His primary attention today to the Pharisees and the Scribes, the Jewish religious leaders, saying, “Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites, as it is written: The people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human precepts” (Mc 7: 6-7). I take this saying of Jesus quite seriously. For He is warning me, and those who lead this parish, not to substitute the doctrines of the faith, the eternal Word of God, for merely human precepts, the words of men to be blown away like chaff. Or worse, not teach such erroneous notions under the guise of God’s teachings, as if your foolish thoughts and ideas were the will of God.
Indeed, our job, my job, is to maintain true religion, the right worship of God, that when we turn as a community in prayer to the Lord God, our worship is not in vain, but full of vigor and fervor such that a song of praise and thanksgiving rises up to the Lord God like incense before the altar. Yes, like Moses we are to exhort and to encourage the people to observes the teachings of the Lord God that they might take possession of that promise land (heaven) which the Lord, the God of our Fathers, is giving us (Dt 4:1-2). Neither we nor the people are to add or to subtract from them, but rather observe them carefully such that all other peoples and nations, those around us, will look upon this community and marvel at their wisdom and intelligence (Dt 4:6-7). Indeed, as St. James says, they will see the way in which we are doers of the word and not hearers only, keeping a religion that is pure and undefiled before God, that is, caring for the orphans and the widows, all those who suffer in their afflictions (Jam 1:27).
And so my time here at San José this summer comes to a close. I leave tomorrow for Rome. I will be back next summer as a priest to serve you again. At least that is the plan. Please know that I will remember y’all daily in my prayers and offer my studies as a sacrifice on your behalf. Thank all y’all so much for your prayers, support, and kind welcome. I am grateful. Yes, this last homily will be as short as my stay, because today Jesus speak to the preacher. So I will fulfill the first rule of preaching by preaching first to myself and simply end with the words of St. Paul:
For you remember our labor and toil, brethren; we worked night and day, that we might not burden any of you, while we preached to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our behavior to you believers; for you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers (1Thes 2:9-13).