04 Jul Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 3, 2016
Father Shawn Hughes
Homilies are never the creative act of one person. So as we begin to post these homilies on our website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be nothing original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week. Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it. ‘Tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time. If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures.
God bless you.
I don’t think there is anyone here who will disagree with me that one of the most beautiful sights this side of heaven is to see a wee baby, sound asleep in his/her mother’s arms, just after nursing. Totally content, fed, not a worry in the world…held in the security of his/her mother’s arms. I often say in that situation…somewhat enviously…“It sure is the life!”
That’s the image given to us from the book of the prophet Isaiah today to convey our relationship with God if we are following him completely. We call this relationship discipleship.
Discipleship: It was the theme of last week’s liturgy, is again this week and will be again next weekend.
You will recall last week we heard from the gospel and Deacon Blaine’s homily about the three kinds of discipleship:
The first type of disciple is eager and enthusiastic about becoming a follower of Jesus. “I will follow you wherever you go”. But Jesus is on his way to the cross. So there is a cost.
The second type of disciple doesn’t even necessarily want to be a follower of Jesus, they weren’t looking for it, were not expecting this decisive encounter with the Lord. But Jesus says to them and to each one of us: ‘Follow me’. But there are costs. We hesitate. Perhaps we are afraid. What must I leave behind?
The third type of disciple is midway between the other two types. Some enthusiasm…But also has with hesitations…Is held back by the tug of something that needs to be left behind if they are to be a true follower of Jesus.
Where are we in all of this? What does a disciple of Jesus Christ look like?
Discipleship is like an apprenticeship.…disciple comes from the Greek… mathētḗs, In the Greek New Testament it is often encountered as a verb…mathēteúō…to disciple, that is, helping someone to progressively learn the Word of God to become a mature, growing disciple, literally, “a learner,” a true Christ-follower; to train or develop in the truths of Scripture and the lifestyle required, that means, helping a believer learn to be a disciple of Christ in belief and practice
In belief and practice: A disciple is one who has encountered the Lord, in the Sacraments, in prayer, in the on-going study of Scripture…A disciple is one who has grown in that personal relationship with the Lord. Who has made a decision to follow Christ: to surrender his or her life to him. And most importantly…a disciple has been awakened interiorly, within…they have a hungering, a desire…for a more complete and deeper relationship with Christ. This type of disciple is obvious…at the Sacraments…Here at Mass…they pray all the prayers out loud and enthusiastically…they sing the hymns…not too concerned about the quality of their voice…like today’s psalm says… Making a joyful noise unto the Lord…True disciples are not concerned about what others think of them when it concerns the Lord. The Lord is their first and foremost priority. True disciples of Jesus Christ want to grow in their personal relationship with him…They pray every day: praising God, adoring him, thanking Him, repenting, petitioning for other’s needs, petitioning for their own needs, and making firm resolutions to be bring the living of their everyday life more in line with what they believe.
True disciples of Jesus Christ study and pray the Scriptures daily. God has given the Scriptures to the Church precisely so that we can know Him.
We hear a great deal about the New Evangelization, especially from Pope Francis. What is Evangelization? Evangelization is all of the above. Evangelization has taken place when someone becomes a disciple.
But it doesn’t stop there. And now we are finally getting to today’s gospel.
The next step is we must become an apostle. Apostle comes from the Greek apostolos which means one who is sent out.
It says in today’s Gospel, the “Lord appointed seventy others and sent them on ahead of him in pairs to every town and place where he himself intended to go.” Disciples become apostles. Those who have trained or developed an understanding of the truths of Scripture and have begun to live the lifestyle that discipleship requires, naturally go out to help train others to develop an understanding for the truth of Scripture and help them live the lifestyle that discipleship requires. A disciple must become a missionary…Pope Francis refers to himself as “ a missionary disciple.”…a disciple who has been sent by the Church to further the mission of Jesus Christ.
The reason the Church is here is to make disciples: to bring disciples to maturity… AND… And equip them to be a missionary. When I say the Church I mean all of us, you, the lay people and the clergy. Until very recently in the Church we relied on the bishops, priests, deacons and religious sisters and brothers to be the missionaries. Since the Second Vatican Council the which ended in 1965, fifty years ago, the Church has taught that the fundamental identity of each and every one of us is to be missionary disciples.
I have a dream for St. Mary’s. My dream is that every member of this congregation, in this upcoming year, grows in maturity as a disciple of Jesus Christ. That includes me. I still have growing to do in my discipleship of Jesus Christ. And that many of us also grow in our apostleship of Jesus Christ. That we so grow in our commitment to Jesus Christ that we want others to know Jesus. That we want them to come here to know him. Pope Francis says that parishes should become communities of missionary disciples.
You already know that part of my dream for this parish is that we grow in our love for each other…That we grow in knowing each other…that we grow in caring for each other…
My dream is that keeping the main thing, the main thing becomes our main thing. You’ll hear this often in the upcoming months so I’ll repeat it…My dream is that making the main thing, the main thing becomes our main thing. So what is the main thing?
The Main thing, what we should be focusing on, as disciples of Jesus Christ, naturally comes from the gospels. It is referred to as The Great Commission.
It is the very last few lines of Matthew’s Gospel: Just before Jesus ascends into Heaven he commissions the disciples…He commissions each one of us.
Jesus says: “ 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20)
Go and make disciples. That is Christ’s instruction for His Church. For each one of us. Disciples make more disciples. Mature disciples invite others into that maturity.
There is a program, it is called the ALPHA course. Beginning September 21st, on Wednedays,… as a parish we will be using the ALPHA course as the key tool to grow in maturity as disciples of Jesus Christ…as the key tool to bring more people to Jesus Christ.
Alpha is organised as a series of sessions over 10 weeks and one weekend. Each session starts with a meal, followed by a talk, usually a DVD, and then discussion takes place in small groups with trained group leaders. The talks aim to cover the basic beliefs of the Christian faith.
We will offer Alpha three times a year. One which begins in September. One which begins just after Christmas. And the third will begin just after Easter. Eventually we will offer an ALPHA during the day time for our seniors who don’t want to come out during the evening.
Part of my dream is that every member of our parish would eventually participate in an ALPHA course. A stronger part of my dream is that I would like you mention this to your children, grandchildren, friends, colleagues…Especially those who are not believers or who do not practice…This course is designed in a very non-judgemental way to introduce people to Our Lord Jesus Christ who they probably think they knew and rejected but really haven’t.
Like those in today’s gospel. You are being sent out. To discern if you can take this course in the Fall yourself …To deep the maturity of your own discipleship…And to discern who you will invite that is not here …jokingly the developers of this course have said: “It is good to have at least one atheist at each small group table.”…I think to provide all views. But more importantly to see their transformation when they truly are introduced to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Actually those who are not believers or not practising are those we want to disciple, that is, help them to progressively learn the Word of God to become a matured, growing disciple, literally, “a learner,” a true Christ-follower; to train them in the truths of Scripture and the lifestyle required, i.e. helping them as new believers to learn to be a disciple of Christ in belief and practice. We all need this.
What is the result of all this? Let’s go back to the beautiful image from the book of the Prophet Isaiah in the first reading. Our relationship with God is to be so peaceful, so trusting, so comforting, so satisfying, so secure …As to be like a wee baby, who has just finished nursing and fallen asleep in the arms of his/her mother.
This is what I am hoping ALPHA can bring to your life and to the life of our parish here at St. Mary’s.
Not only is this the promise held out to each one of us as disciples of the Lord. It is the promise we are to hold out to others as well.
Today’s Gospel promises us that disciples, when they return from mission, are filled with joy and peace.
We need to ask ourselves: Do we have that joy, Do we have that peace of sharing the Gospel with others? Do we have everything we desire in a worldly way but still feel unfulfilled and empty? Do we sometimes wonder “What is the meaning and purpose of life?” Are we always looking forward to something else but still feel disappointed when it happens? ALPHA is for you. And you are invited.
Do you know others who would respond negatively to these questions? ALPHA is for them. They are invited. They need you to invite them.
What is the main thing? In Jesus words: “19 Go … and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20)
The main thing for us as disciples of Jesus Christ is to keep the