Third Sunday in Ordinary Time 2017

Lying, Vocation and Appeal

A pastor told his congregation, “Next week I plan to preach about the sin of lying. To help you understand my sermon, I want you all to read Mark 17.” The following Sunday, as he prepared to deliver his sermon, the minister asked for a show of hands. He wanted to know how many had read Mark 17. Almost every hand went up. The minister smiled and said, “Mark has only 16 chapters. I will now proceed with my sermon on the sin of lying.”
To give in to lying and cheating and stealing is to stumble around in spiritual darkness. If you have ever been caught in a lie, there is a great temptation to try to wiggle your way out of it by spinning more lies that it is just a tangled web of badness. The people who fall into this behavior are usually afraid. Teens are afraid that their parents will not approve so they make up a lie about their whereabouts. A husband may lie about his extramarital affair. A wife may lie about her spending money. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwell in the land of gloom, a light has shone.
The first reading contains the prophetic reference to Christ as the Light that dispels darkness. Matthew wanted his readers to recognize that the Light Isaiah spoke of had finally appeared with the coming of Jesus. The second reading advises the Corinthians to live as children of the Light, avoiding divisions and rivalries, because several factions had arisen among the Corinthian Christians, each claiming allegiance to its first Christian teacher or to a particular Apostle. Describing the humble beginning of the public ministry of Jesus, today’s Gospel teaches us that Christ has brought us from darkness of sin into the Light (4:16) by calling us to repentance (4:17). Repentance and conversion is ongoing and that is why we begin every Mass with an examination of conscience and asking for forgiveness of our sins. So if you are somehow wallowing around in this kind of darkness, come to the Light! Christ will show you the way. Follow Him.
God calls us on a daily basis to repentance and to grow in holiness. Sometimes God calls people to serve in a particular way. I am totally committed and renewed in my own answer to God’s call as a priest. This is what I say to anyone young person, man or woman, who thinks that God may be calling you to be a priest or a sister or nun. Don’t be afraid of anything! Your possible feeling of unworthiness, your dislike of being a public speaker, your lack of knowledge of the Catholic faith, etc. Ask God’s light to shine on you and trust that Jesus is with you to guide you what He wants you to do. Not all are called to follow the Lord in a religious vocation. I am asking all of us especially older and wiser folks to pray for more religious vocations to priesthood and religious life and for solid Catholic Christian marriages. Each vocation, or answer to God’s call, has its own set of challenges and fears. If we follow Him, He will always give us what we need to bring forth the return, big or small, that He wants.
This past week, we had a priest meeting and one presentation we listened to was by a layman, a father of a family and a religious sister. In their former lives, the father was a US Marine and believe it or not, the sister had been a navy officer. Paul Simoneau heads the office of Peace and Justice and Sr. Mariana Koonce, Mercy Sister of Alma, MI is the director of the St. Mary’s Legacy Mobile Clinic. They spoke to all of us priests about end of life issues, including the value of human suffering, making decisions for health care and Catholic directives for end of life wishes. I know many families deal with these issues, including my own as my own parents get older and have health challenges. I am wanting to bring the duo here to give this presentation to interested people in our area. These are just two workers in the chancery or diocesan offices that we support through the Annual Bishop’s Appeal. Paul and Sister Mariana have answered the Lord’s call to serve. That is the theme of this year’s Bishop’s Appeal: Called to Serve. Not everyone can drop everything and work for the Church full time. Be we can, through our financial contributions, support the good works of the people who do and provide great benefit to those whom they serve.
We are all part of the Diocese of Knoxville and there are many things that are funded by the Appeal that a singular parish cannot do on its own.
Next weekend, people who have not contributed by mail will be asked to make their gifts to the Bishop’s Appeal 2017. Please read the materials that are in the bulletin today and those that you may have already received in the mail. Prayerfully consider all that God has given to you and what amount you will pledge to give as a sign of gratitude to God.
There will NOT be a second collection, but we will go through the in-pew process of listening to our bishop’s homily and filling out our pledge cards.
Remember that each day is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God.

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