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Homily for the 19th Sunday in ordinary time

Updated: Nov 18, 2022

I will honestly admit, at the beginning of this homily, on the eve of my seventy eighth birthday, that I am far from being a perfect human being. I really don't like saying it, but it is true. Over the years, especially as a teenager, I had terrific arguments with my mother about just how perfect I really was. I was convinced I was perfect, but my mother did not think so. As I reflect upon wisdom and perfection, I can see that she was right and I was wrong. Without doubt, like many others, I have plenty of bad habits. I'm not always easy to get along with, and for that very reason I enjoy living alone. I sometimes I get angry and impatient. I often wake up in the morning feeling lazy and without motivation. Perhaps in all this I am little different from the average human being in the world. I don't believe, however, that this confession will spare me from God's judgment. So, I am ready to admit, I am a flawed person, I am not perfect. On the other hand, I would like to believe that I have a redeeming quality or two. How I try to live my life, could indeed add to the quality of life on his planet. Let me share one thing I believe has made my life reasonably peaceful and bearable. Simply said, I try very hard to never be late for any responsible human activity. I believe, that in the general order of life in this world, there is only so much time to do what needs to be done. I know that belief was passed on to me by my mother. Even though there was just me and my younger sister, our house was always filled with people.

My father worked in the mill at a very difficult job and my mother was an elected town official that placed huge demands upon her time. Yet it was my mother who was the one who made sure that we were ready to engage the next responsibility or activity that seemed important to the smooth working of the family. For instance, getting to school and Church on time was of prime importance. Of course, with all the responsibilities my parents had just getting us into the car and heading out for Church was a monumental task Speaking for myself, I must tell you that I would plan to be ready well ahead of time. It disturbed me when my sister was still getting dressed ten minutes before the Church bell was about to ring. I would sit in the back seat of the car and fume, refusing to speak to anyone. I am still somewhat inclined toward that behavior today. I wait patiently, but don't like it. I would rather arrive early for an appointment or for Mass, than be one minute late. Part of the reason for this attitude, I believe, is that I like to be in control of my life. I do not want someone pointing me out as an irresponsible person. Now when you heard the Gospel for this Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, you hear Jesus say the same thing I have been saying here. Jesus cautions his disciples to be always ready for the coming of God. Jesus, as usual, uses a story of a wedding feast to make his point, an occasion for which no sensitive person will want to be late. The point Jesus is making, is that the end times are near, and that all must be prepared to welcome the Son of Man, with pure hearts and clear minds. It seems evident, that the warning of Jesus, to be prepared and ready, caused problems and worry among the early Christians. They sincerely believed that Jesus would indeed return, and in the not-too-distant future. But, as time went on, people seem to forget what Jesus had said.

However, followers of Jesus taught, that Christians must be prepared, no matter at what point in time the Son of Man would return again. Interestingly, we are still waiting for the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God in our time. Is there an answer to this "eternal waiting period?" In other words, when will Jesus' return? When the disciples ask Him when the Kingdom will come, Jesus replies; "Only the Father knows." Today Jesus is telling the disciples that "the Father is pleased to give them the Kingdom." In other words, time is unimportant, what is important is the assurance that God, continually enters the world of time and space. It is our task as Christians to discover God in all things, good and human, in the time allotted to us. In some sense therefore, time is truly important. We have only so much time, only so many opportunities in this world to bring the Kingdom of God to fulfillment. Thinking about all this, I am more and more convinced that my youthful intuition of being on time was not so far of the mark. But I also know, it does not make me perfect.

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