Homily by Fr. Paul Plante
15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 11, 2004
Scriptural Reference: Deuteronomy 30:10-14
First of all I want to commend you for something special. It’s the first time I come to a new parish and nobody tells me that hopefully my homilies won’t be long, that the best way to be popular around here is to keep the sermons short. My theory is that those who make such suggestions might be in great need of more instruction. I won’t punish the rest because of them.
The other piece of information I picked up is that novice priests are sent here to be trained. I’m eager to bounce that one off some of your former pastors. For those who are in the training mood, I may be a disappointment or bless him with a sabbatical. Having been in parishes here in Maine since 1968, I don’t see myself as a newcomer to the ministry. However I see myself as a perpetual disciple at the feet of the Master, Jesus Christ. Therefore always learning, always gaining new insights, always craving for renewal because that is what spiritual life is about. A relationship with God cannot be static.
Doesn’t Moses tell God’s people in today’s segment from Deuteronomy: If only you would heed the voice of the Lord, keep his commandments and statutes and return to the Lord, your God with all your heart and soul?
Moses goes on to assure us that this command is not too mysterious or remote for us, not up in the sky, not across the sea. No, it’s something very near to you, already in your mouths, in your hearts, you have only to carry it out.
It’s all too easy to think that under different circumstances, in another place, with other people, with more inspiring leaders, with better liturgy, we would be better people.
Moses seems to be telling the people they have everything right there because it’s in their hearts. Yes, the atmosphere for spiritual growth can be better, if we make it better by becoming better ourselves. If you want change out there, it starts in here, doing what is good and Christ-like right under our noses, right close, to people God has put in our lives, family, neighbors, co-workers, friends, strangers on our path.
Isn’t today’s Gospel story a perfect example relevant to being like Jesus just where we are – an occasion to help someone ignored by those we would expect to help?
May we know God has a purpose for all of us right here, right now. May we not overlook all the good we can do right here, right now.
Otherwise, we too will be like those who overlooked the injured neighbor, refused to be like Jesus, merciful.