Saturday, June 26, 2010

Homily: Fully Choosing the Path that You are on.

Fr. Michael Denk

Homily, Year C, Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 27, 2010

St. Barnabas 9:00am and 10:30am

Dedicated to Brennan Patrick (who will be baptized at the 10:30), his Parents Chris and Elaine, and his God Parents Chris and Tara.

Split Rail Path, Denver CO - Michael J. Denk 2005

We often think it’s the big choices in life that will have the biggest impact. Kind of like Robert Frost’s poem which ends with Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
We agonize over all these different paths, where we will go to school, what we will do for work, who we will marry, what path we will take. The serious dilemma however is, not necessarily choosing the wrong path, but never fully choosing the path that we are on.

Let me explain. You are on a path right now. Since your baptism you have been on a path to holiness. And as we grow into mature disciples God calls us to live out that vocation in a unique way. This can be played out in four ways: Married Life, Single Life, Priesthood, and Religious. Now these are very different paths and have to be taken seriously, prayed about, and chosen. But once we have made that commitment the real danger is never fully embracing that path.

For example a couple who wanted to have a wedding in the Church and chose to profess and promise their love and commitment to God, the Church Community and to each other, but never come back to mass after that, never really grow in their faith, never really learn or study their faith, give to the poor, or pray with their children. A mother or father who gets caught up in their career and begins to make sacrifices of their family to serve their career.

The same could be said for someone who is called to the single life, but never fully embraces it. Instead of using their gifts and talents in service to the church and to others they use it for wealth or for fame. Someone who is called to the single life, but continues to act out sexually and never grows up from the years of college parties.

The same could be said for me, if I don’t fully embrace the path I have chosen. If I don’t consistently pray every day and grow in my love for the Eucharist. Or find myself attached to the rich and neglect the poor. Or get caught up in bitterness and seek relief in people or things outside of God.

Finally, someone who has not fully embraced their path, a religious sister or brother who avoids living the life that they have been called to of poverty, chastity, and obedience. One who dwells in self-pity, poor-me, look at how much I’ve had to give up.

Yes, all these are examples of how not fully embracing the path that we are on. The scriptures today give us examples of the gravity of following the path that we have been called to and not turning back.

In the first reading when Elijah is called by God to anoint Elisha to be the prophet to succeed him… he throws the cloak over Elisha and appoints him. Elisha’s path has been chosen, but Elisha hesitates… “Please let me kiss my father and mother goodbye, and I will follow you.” Elijah answered, “Go back!” And Elisha decides to embrace his path chosen for him. He takes his livelihood, his plowing equipment and burns it and his oxen and slaughters them, and gives it to the people to eat. He has fully chosen his road and there is no turning back for him.

And in the Gospel Jesus says to another… “Follow me.” There is a hesitation, “Lord let me go first and bury my father.” Jesus does not accept this hesitation he desires decisive and immediate action… “Let the dead bury their dead. But you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Jesus helps him to see the urgency of following the path that has been chosen for him. There’s no wiggle room here. The path is very clear and the time is now.

Now we do understand the importance of kissing your mother and father goodbye and we have a corporal work of mercy which is burying the dead.

But Jesus makes it very clear about the importance of fully choosing the path that you are on. To him Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

The serious dilemma however is, not necessarily choosing the wrong path, but never fully choosing the path that we are on. The image that Jesus gives to us is don’t look back. Embrace the path that has been chosen for you.

This means that if you are married. Live your marriage to the fullest. When you were married you promised to be true to your spouse in good times and in bad, in sickness in health, I will love you and honor you all the days of my life. You promised to accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church. Are you fully living out this promise? If there is something that needs to be healed in your marriage, seek healing. If you are looking at other women at work find a way to fall in love with your wife again. If you are having difficulties in your marriage that aren’t resolving seek counseling. Make a retreat together, a Marriage Encounter, or a Retrouville, Christ Renews His Parish, or join the Connections group, If you haven’t been the mother or father that you should be, right now, change your career, cut back your hours, do whatever it is that you need to do to fully choose the path that you are on. Are you fully choosing the path that you are on?

If you are single, maybe you’re on summer break. Don’t let this mass be the end of your time with God for the week. With your spare time find ways to grow in your faith. Pick up a book about your catholic faith, set time aside to pray, find ways of getting involved in the parish or in the mass or bring your faith to your friends. Are you fully choosing the path that you are on?

For myself as a priest, I have to every day lay my life down on the ground before the crucifix and give myself to God. I have to let go of whatever or whoever does not help me to be the best, the healthiest, and the holiest priest that God has called me to be for you. Am I fully choosing the path that you are on?

Our religious sisters and brothers live models for us of lives of poverty, chastity, and obedience… as baptized Christians we are all called to live these to a certain extent in our own lives. Are we fully choosing the path that we are on?

Jesus calls us to a certain way of life; he does lay out a path before us. The danger is not necessarily choosing the wrong path as it is not fully choosing the path that Christ is calling us for.

He has called you to follow him; your path is different than anyone else’s. Are you fully choosing to walk the path that you are on?