Loving Sincerely, 31st Tuesday (I), November 7, 2017

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Tuesday of the 31st Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Votive Mass for the Faithful Departed
November 7, 2017
Rom 12:5-16, Ps 131, Lk 14:15-24

 

To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • Today we get to the third part of the Letter of the Romans, which is St. Paul’s treatise on Christian life, his moral theology. This will be what we focus on for the rest of the week as we finish this beautiful epistle. Everything can be summed up, I think, by his expression in the middle of today’s passage, “Let love be sincere.” He’s calling us exactly to what Jesus Christ called us to do in the Gospel, to love: to grow in the image and likeness of God, who is love; to love God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength, and our love our neighbor as ourselves; to love as he loves us. St. Paul helpful adds the adjective “sincere.” Sincerity means that it has to be both truthful and from the heart, cut off from all duplicity. We can examine the entire passage from the perspective of sincere love and look at the way we live.
  • Before we go there, however, we should begin where St. Paul begins. It’s somewhat shocking that if we’re spending four weeks on the Letter to the Romans we don’t include the passage Pope Benedict quoted more than any other passage in the New Testament (with the exception of Jn 12:24), what he says sums up the Christian response in faith, what begins this chapter. I similarly quote it all the time: “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. For by the grace given to me I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than one ought to think, but to think soberly, each according to the measure of faith that God has apportioned (Rom 12:1-4). We could preach whole retreats on that excision! St. Paul is saying that our logike latreia, our fitting way to respond to God, our sincere love for him, is to give ourselves to him totally as a living sacrifice. Our sincere love will transform our minds so that we may always discern what God is asking and then to live humbly, soberly and according to the faith God has given us.
  • From there he says that we need to use or “exercise” the gifts God has given us to love him and others sincerely: whether preaching, ministering, teaching, exhorting, giving alms, supervising, etc. We have to acknowledge these “graces given to us” and to use them for their purpose, without hijacking them for our own purposes, or burying them. We show our sincerity by how we seek to thank God for his gifts and use them for his kingdom.
  • Then St. Paul continues with a litany of acts of sincere love for God and others, which I love to use as an examination of conscience from time to time and I recommend it to you:
    • Hate what is evil — If we love God and love others, we hate all evil and sin that alienates, that divides, that ultimately kills bonds of love.
    • Hold onto what is good — When we love God, we are grateful for what he has given and treasure it, and similarly when we love others, we focus fundamentally on the good they are.
    • Love one another with mutual affection — Our love can’t be cold. It must be full of affection, full of warmth, full of emotion. We should behave in such a way that others would think we’re the president of their fan club, that we don’t just love them but like them, and admire them and rejoice in them. How can we love each other with greater affection?
    • Anticipate one another in showing honor — When we honor someone, we revere them, we praise them, we thank them for going way beyond what is due, we lift them up. A Christian community, filled with love, should be like a happy marriage, in which spouses anticipate one another in loving, praising, honoring. How can we show honor to each other today?
    • Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord — If we sincerely love the Lord, we will seek to grow each day in zeal, fervor and service.
    • Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer — Our sincere love for the Lord will show itself in our joy, hope, endurance and persevering prayer, just as hardship can’t stop a husband’s love for a wife or a mom’s for her children.
    • Contribute to the needs of the holy ones — Sincere love attends to the needs of others.
    • Exercise hospitality — Sincere love rejoices to welcome.
    • Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them — Sincere love for our enemies leads to blessing them rather than wishing them ill.
    • Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep — Sincere love means sharing others joys and sorrows.
    • Regard one another equally, do not be haughty but associate with the lowly — Sincere love for another makes us regard them at least as equals, if to superiors. We don’t condescend but descend in love to lift others up.
  • Today in the Gospel Jesus calls us to sincerity in responding to our vocation to his kingdom, which is symbolized here by our vocation to the banquet of the kingdom that starts in this world and is meant never to end. Jesus gives a parable about those on the original guest list but who didn’t respond. They made excuses, one to go to his farm, another to inspect his oxen, a third to care for his wife. But none was responding with sincere love and gratitude. They were on the one hand saying that they were honored by the invitation, but at the same time putting it after business, or animals or family. Jesus wants to help us to appreciate just how blessed are those called to the dinner of the Kingdom of God and to act in accordance with that realization. And as we were speaking about yesterday, when we encountered his secondary guest list for the first time — the lame, blind, crippled, poor — he wants us to express our sincere love for them by inviting them to our table and to the Lord’s. If the Lord has given us his invitation, he wants us to reciprocate by inviting him to ours, because, as he said, he identifies personally with all those who are hungry and thirst: “When I was hungry, you fed me.”
  • “Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.” We are indeed blessed to be called to the Supper of the King, the Lamb of God himself. This is where he strengthens us to use all of our graces for his kingdom. This is the means by which he unites himself to us so that we can love as sincerely as he does. This is the place where we exercise our logike latreia, and present our bodies as a living, holy and acceptable sacrifice to him who says to us today, “This is my body, given for you.”

 

The readings for today’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 ROM 12:5-16AB

Brothers and sisters:
We, though many, are one Body in Christ
and individually parts of one another.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us,
let us exercise them:
if prophecy, in proportion to the faith;
if ministry, in ministering;
if one is a teacher, in teaching;
if one exhorts, in exhortation;
if one contributes, in generosity;
if one is over others, with diligence;
if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
Let love be sincere;
hate what is evil,
hold on to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection;
anticipate one another in showing honor.
Do not grow slack in zeal,
be fervent in spirit,
serve the Lord.
Rejoice in hope,
endure in affliction,
persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones,
exercise hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you,
bless and do not curse them.
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
weep with those who weep.
Have the same regard for one another;
do not be haughty but associate with the lowly.

Responsorial Psalm PS 131:1BCDE, 2, 3

R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.
O LORD, my heart is not proud,
nor are my eyes haughty;
I busy not myself with great things,
nor with things too sublime for me.
R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.
Nay rather, I have stilled and quieted
my soul like a weaned child.
Like a weaned child on its mother’s lap,
so is my soul within me.
R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.
O Israel, hope in the LORD,
both now and forever.
R. In you, O Lord, I have found my peace.

Alleluia MT 11:28

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest, says the Lord.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 14:15-24

One of those at table with Jesus said to him,
“Blessed is the one who will dine in the Kingdom of God.”
He replied to him,
“A man gave a great dinner to which he invited many.
When the time for the dinner came,
he dispatched his servant to say to those invited,
‘Come, everything is now ready.’
But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves.
The first said to him,
‘I have purchased a field and must go to examine it;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen
and am on my way to evaluate them;
I ask you, consider me excused.’
And another said, ‘I have just married a woman,
and therefore I cannot come.’
The servant went and reported this to his master.
Then the master of the house in a rage commanded his servant,
‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town
and bring in here the poor and the crippled,
the blind and the lame.’
The servant reported, ‘Sir, your orders have been carried out
and still there is room.’
The master then ordered the servant,
‘Go out to the highways and hedgerows
and make people come in that my home may be filled.
For, I tell you, none of those men who were invited will taste my dinner.’”