Homily while in training - Saint Paul University Seminary - S.P. Institute of Pastoral Studies - St. Elizabeth Parish, Ottawa - 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Oct. 11, 1981

 “How can I thank You, Lord?” “Listen… and let Me love you!”

Jesus once said his Father in heaven has sent him to bring us Good News. There are many of his words that really pick us up – they are Good News. Now, what about this story he tells us today – how does it strike you? Do you feel good about it? Maybe something struck you and your mind wandered… thinking about what happened before you came here, or about what you’ll do when you leave, or thinking about someone…. Or maybe like I’ve often done, you couldn’t help but put yourself in the place of the poor guy without the wedding garment. Can you imagine following the crowd and finding yourself in a wedding hall where you don’t know anyone and realizing you’re not even dressed for it? How embarrassing! It takes time to get ready for a wedding, and the more you love the newlyweds, the more time you take to make yourself look beautiful and joyful.

Still, it’s easy enough to get psyched up for a wedding. What about Thanksgiving that our society celebrates this weekend? It’s easy enough to feel grateful and to thank a person right away when they gift me with something, with their time or with themselves. It wouldn’t be proper to wait for this occasion once a year to thank all those people who all year give me life and make me feel special. So how can we celebrate thanksgiving? Maybe right now it’s difficult for me to find something to be thankful for… maybe someone I love is having a hard time for some reason, and I’m praying for something good to happen, but right now, I’ve got nothing to feel thankful for. So now what?

Isaiah the prophet, about 2,500 years ago – that’s a long time! – he felt close to God, and he was convinced that the Lord’s hand rested on the mountain where Jerusalem is built – he was convinced that God would prepare a banquet there for his people. Do you think they’re still waiting? His people were exiles, refugees you might say, but God kept his promise: they returned to the holy mountain – the place where God meets his people. God cares about his people. What about Israel today? What about Ireland? El Salvador? What about all those people at war or under oppression? What about us? Does God care about us, about our suffering? How do we know that He cares?

Do you think we can ask Him?... “Lord, if you really care about us, please let us know so we can feel thankful in our heart. Amen.” 

Jesus tells us that the Father is constantly inviting us to accept from him the gift of life – the joy of the wedding feast. So, who’s getting married, already?... would you believe us and God?

St. Paul boasts that there is nothing he cannot master with the help of the One who gives him strength? He must have been getting a lot of strength! And yet, Paul cares enough to thank the Philippians for having kindly remembered him at a time when the Roman police were giving him a hard time. Where was Jesus for them? In Paul’s own heart giving him strength; in his friends showing that they care; in Paul – letting them know he appreciates their gesture of caring. Where is God in our life? In the lives of those we love, those we meet?

Isaiah told his people that God would soon save all peoples: delivering them from exile, destroying death, wiping away their tears and taking away their shame. In the Psalm today, we ourselves prayed to the Lord as the One who provides, who revives, who guides and comforts, who prepares a banquet and anoints with oil, who blesses forever.

In what ways then, is the Lord doing these things? Think for a moment of a wedding you attended or a happy person you know. The bride and groom are really joyful… what do they do with this joy? They spread it around, don’t they? Just to be there, and for them to look at you, makes you feel like a whole new person!

Well it’s the same with God and us: in Jesus God is s close to us as the Groom and his Bride – they just know they are loved – they see it in each other’s eyes! The Breath of God in our hearts invites us to look to him with the eyes of our heart – He wants us to know we are loved, to feel his presence in our lives. He invites us to take a few moments each day to slow down, to listen to our heart, even if it’s upset; - underneath the tiredness, hurt or anger, Jesus is there, looking at us with eyes of love…. Yes, but sometimes I have “icky” thoughts or feelings in my heart and I’m embarrassed to pray! Jesus sees all that, and it makes him love us even more, because we need his love all the more.

To be without a wedding garment means not to care about the Bride and the Groom. For our love relationship with God, in Jesus, not to care means not to take the time to listen to Him in our heart. To take the time means to accept the not-so-nice things we might find in our heart – because Jesus loves us and wants to give us the strength to look at these things, to accept that they’re mine… and slowly, He’ll help us make our heart a more beautiful place for everyone to be and to feel welcome we’re the Bride of God. He wants to make us happy, and he wants us to help him to wipe away those tears on the cheeks of someone close by. He wants us to help him share with someone the Good News that their life means something to us. He wants us to have a lot to be thankful for….

“How can I thank You, Lord?”

“Listen to Me in your heart… let Me love you and let Me love others with you. Let Me give you Life in My Family!”

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© 2006-2021 All rights reserved Fr. Gilles Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montreal  QC
© 2006-2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC

Like John the Baptist, God is with us to prepare the way for Jesus to touch other people's lives through us. - Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, June 24th, 2021 - S + L Mass at MQW Cathedral downtown Montreal

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