Saturday, October 15, 2016

“Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it...” - A Homily for the 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Portland Peninsula and Island Parishes

Homily for the
Sunday of the Year
Cycle C

Reverend Kyle L. Doustou
October 16, 2016

Growing up, Saturday nights always looked the same. My grandfather would get the beans on the stove by 4 o’clock and my grandmother would get the red hot dogs and the brown molasses bread going. The baked beans came from a can…in fact, so did the brown bread…we didn’t have time for any of that fancy stuff. We had to eat and have the table cleared off by 5 o’clock so that we could pile into the living room for the Lawrence Welk Show. It was so much fun to watch my grandparents come alive during that hour…the bubbles, the champagne music, the dancing, it all brought them right back to their younger years. Then the 6 o’clock news, a bit of dessert, and, of course, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy back to back. Saturday nights were wholesome, simple, and because of my grandparents, always a step back in time…and I loved every minute of it. Those nights were formative for me and they no doubt helped to turn me into the old soul that I am. But it wasn’t the food and the laughter and the shows that made the most impact on my little heart…it was what came after. As my grandfather would stay in the living room watching some old Western or something, my grandmother would help me get ready for bed and then she’d sit me down and talk to me about the faith…the same faith she learned as a little girl. She told me stories about the saints and about her early days at St. Peter’s Elementary School with all the priests and sisters and brothers. She’d pull out her old family Bible and would explain the stories behind the beautiful pictures I saw. She kept a little box on her dresser with holy medals and holy cards and she’d let me paw through them all as she told me what they all meant. Then we’d say our prayers – in English and in French – and then I’d fall asleep. I can still remember those precious little moments as if they happened just yesterday. Those Saturday nights, I am convinced, are why I am a man of faith and a priest today.

Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation. This is what St. Paul tells us in our second reading today in his second letter to Timothy. Tradition and scholars tell us that this was St. Paul’s final letter before his death and we can see in it that he, as a loving father not long for this world, is trying to ensure that the same faith that was handed on to him would remain strong and alive and vibrant in his spiritual children, in the many generations to come. Deliberately, devoutly, and lovingly he passed on the faith given to him, and because of this the world was set on fire with the love of Jesus Christ. For two thousand years the faith has been passed on like this…person to person, heart to heart, priest to faithful, sister to student, father to son, mother to daughter, grandmother to grandson. Stories and memories and Scripture and prayers, a moment here and a moment there…this is the work of evangelization, this is how the faith is passed on, this is how the world is set ablaze. Of course we need an army of great teachers and preachers who will go to the ends of the earth, but nothing substitutes for the authentic faith a child can see living in the eyes and life of someone he or she loves. My grandmother probably never thought of herself as a missionary, as an evangelist, and yet she was…simply by remaining faithful to what she learned and believed, she helped me to do the same.

My friends, in our world today as things get darker and grimmer, we have to let St. Paul’s words cut us right to core. We can’t let all of the bad things happening around us or to us distract us from what matters most: the salvation offered to us in Jesus Christ. We cannot forget all that we have learned and believed when the world makes fun us for being fanatics, when e-mails are sent about us being backwards, or when people in power try to snuff us out. On the contrary, we must cling ever more tightly to the faith of our fathers and mothers, of our grandfathers and grandmothers, and continue passing it along to the next generation. We have to help our children come to love God by showing them how much we ourselves love Him. We have to teach them to find the answers to their questions in the Scriptures and through prayer. We have to make sure they know how imminent and close God is to them. And we have to remind them that, when all else in this world of ours fails, they only have to seek out the red glow of the sanctuary lamp and take refuge in a love beyond all knowing.

When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth? Jesus puts this question before His disciples in our Gospel today and He puts it before us too. If we cave into the allurements of the world, into the new “theologies” and new “spiritualties,” if we forget all that has been passed on to us, all that we have learned and believed from of old, then when the Son of Man comes we will only be able to hide our faces in shame. But if we withstand the temptations, if we are tirelessly true to what has been handed down to us, if we have sought to share it and to pass it on without being ashamed or scared, then we will be able to stand before Him face to face as He transforms the faith He has found in us into sight.

As we come to this altar today, continuing to receive the One Who hands Himself over to us as true and heavenly food, let us rededicate our entire selves to the robust living of our faith. Let us thank God for the holy men and women who passed the faith on to us and beg Him to give us the strength to do the same.

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