Monday, February 15, 2010

Are you rich or poor?

Photo from NY Times
I don't normally summarize the homilies I hear at Mass every Sunday and post them on my blog but we heard such a powerful one again yesterday that I had to share. It was such a blessing that we read the Gospel we did yesterday and the message our priest gave in the homily because it happened to parallel the dialogue I was having with a cousin this weekend. To my shock I found out this weekend that this family member had stopped believing in God, and was proud to be an Atheist. I was perplexed by this news! Although I am not super close with this relative I know him and his siblings were brought up in a Christian home, attended a Protestant Church, and from the online updates I received from them the past few years I assumed he was very much a spiritual believer in Christ. So I asked him why, what motivated him and moved him in the direction of believing there is no God. We've been having a respectful e-dialogue. And it appears to me that modern day scientific evidence has moved him in this direction. He also feels that the Christian God is a monster not worth worshipping and that Christianity is based upon fairy tales and myths written in a way to promote circular reasoning. I explained to him that my Christian faith welcomes the question about the origins of the world and of man. That scientific studies which have splendidly enriched our knowledge of the age and dimensions of the cosmos, the development of life-forms and the appearance of man don't necessarily conflict with the notion there is a Creator. In fact these scientific discoveries invite us to even greater admiration for the greatness of the Creator. This family member will definitely be in my prayers.

Photo from NY Times

So onto the homily of yesterday's Gospel message. We read Lk 6:17, 20-26 which talks about Jesus speaking to His disciples and a great crowd. He gives the talk which many of you are probably familiar with, "Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours...Behold, your reward will be great in heaven...But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation...Woe to you when all speak well of you, for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.” Father Kirby talks to us about this message. He starts off by telling us that though many of us are struggling financially in this economy today, we are still rich compared to millions of others in this world. Ones that go to sleep every night hungry and have no shelter. Like the people in Haiti, he brought up the news article of the tent cities that have been put up there and that they are in need of waterproof tarps to replace their sheet made tents. He goes on to say that this Gospel message doesn't so much talk and compare those whom are rich or poor financially because Jesus actually doesn't ever put down the notion of having financial wealth or that it's better to be poor.

So Father Kirby asks all of us, in this sense and Jesus' message how do we know if we are rich or poor? When Jesus refers to the poor here, He's speaking of those who have a humble heart, those who have hunger for God's mercy, and those that endure life's sufferings and fully put their trust in God alone. The rich are those whom put their trust in anything or anyone before God - and he labeled them a parodical Atheist. Which makes sense because even though those "rich" are aware of God they imitate the characteristic of an Atheist because they put their trust in something else. The priest gave examples...there are many who put their trust in their job gaining their feeling of security there, there are many who put trust into their wealth and what is in their back accounts, there are many who put their trust into their Family Name finding security there. And Father Kirby said, many of these parodical Atheist sit in a church pew every Sunday. Father Kirby even felt there are many Catholics whom are parodical Atheist because they put more trust into the prayers they say or the good deeds they do, which is wrong our trust must be in God's mercy. Period. When he made that statement I thought to myself "man, so many of my Protestant brothers and sisters would've been shocked to hear that - cause isn't prayers, traditions, fasting, good deeds, etc. what the Catholic Church teaches justifies us. Clearly no, and Father Kirby confirms this...we're justified only by God's grace and all of our trust should be put in Him."

So which are you, rich or poor?


Mickie and Matt said...

Yes Yes, good questions. I just love Sundays for that reason... we get to read scripture and ask questions to better ourselves.

I too have thought about "How do I know there is a God" the last few weeks. After watching the snow fall on a quiet morning, laughing with Ty or feeling the sun on my face helps me know there is a God and he knows and cares for me. I feel his spirit when I am with my family or doing things that are right. That is always the primary goal to put God first :)

Esther G. said...

Quite a powerful homily. Excellent post, Melissa. Thank you for sharing.