The Portland Peninsula and Island Parishes
Homily for the
Twenty-Fifth Sunday of the Year
Reverend Kyle L. Doustou
September 18, 2016
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to sit down with an insurance agent over a cup of coffee to start talking about things like life insurance, retirement annuities, and IRAs. As I’m barreling towards thirty, I can see the necessity of really beginning to think about my fiscal future. And I have to say, as tedious as the fine print can be and as difficult as it can get to wrap our minds around, there is something very satisfying about knowing that we are taking concrete steps to invest in our future. It is drilled into our American psyche that we should have a definite and reliable fiscal plan for our lives so that we don’t end up suffering or wanting for anything later on. And if we lack in this regard, our lives can quickly become filled anxiety and fear. It’s good to be prepared, it’s good to have a plan, it’s good to know that, no matter what, things will be taken care of. But sometimes we can take this too far and fail to see that there is a danger lurking beneath all of this. We can become so preoccupied thinking about, worrying about, and preparing for worldly things that we forget, neglect, and ignore the greater and eternal realities that far surpass the things of this world.
In our Gospel today, Jesus is warning us about this. He’s warning us about the spirit of the world, about worldliness, and how it can so easily distract us from our true destiny: heaven. As the old Baltimore Catechism puts it so simply and beautifully, our true and ultimate purpose is to love, know, and serve God in this life so as to be happy with Him in the next. Everything else that we say or do or want should be first subjected to this final and eternal end of ours. In other words, we should try to be spending each day looking at everything through the lens of eternity. But often times we don’t. Our decisions in this life are so often made from our desire for pleasure or our fear of suffering, and we spend much less time thinking about, meditating on, and preparing for life in the world to come. It’s easier to serve mammon than it is to serve God because the fruits of our service to mammon are immediately felt whereas the greater fruits of our service to God have to be longed and hoped for. But we don’t get to have our cake and eat it too. We have a choice to make and we have to make a choice: we can serve mammon or we can serve God, but we cannot serve both.
When I sat down with the insurance agent, he instilled within me a sense of urgency. If I were to die tomorrow, how would my funeral expenses be paid for? Who would pay off my vehicle? Do I have enough invested to cover all of these things? The answer was no, and so the solution was to invest more, to pick a life insurance policy particular to my state in life and to begin preparing for the day when I would need to use it. As I was driving away from our meeting, it occurred to me that my job as a priest is not dissimilar to that of an insurance agent. I don’t have any policies to sell, but I am called to help people see the urgency of preparing for and investing in their eternal future. We live in the world, we live and work with and use mammon, but we don’t have to be of the world and we don’t have to be slaves of mammon. God calls us to so much more and He promises that if we invest now in our eternal future with Him, our payout will be of infinite value.
So today I’d like to invite you to begin investing in your eternal insurance policy, or, if you have already started, to invest even more. Here are the terms:
- First, we need evidence of insurability. If you’re not of basic and sufficient spiritual health, you must immediately begin to make healthy spiritual life choices to be insured. Weekly attendance at Mass and regular – at least yearly – use of the Sacrament of Confession are essential. Our priests are waiting and willing to help diagnosis spiritual life-threatening illnesses and to offer sacramental prescriptions as necessary. Contact them immediately for help or consultation.
- Second, there are no monthly or annual premiums. However, there is the daily premium of picking up your own cross and laying down your own life for love of God and neighbor. Payments may never be deferred, but delinquency is forgivable 100% of the time if forgiveness is sought.
- Third, you can increase the value of your policy at any time, day or night, by communing with God in prayer, through the practice of fasting, and by engaging in almsgiving.
- Fourth, you are automatically enrolled in our comprehensive family plan. The angels and saints are ready to invest in your policy at any time. Please solicit them for their prayers. At times their investments will even result in the payments of small dividends in this life, for which God should be glorified and they should be thanked. Furthermore, you are entitled to invest in the policies of anyone on earth or in purgatory. Please direct your prayers and sacrifices accordingly.
- Fifth, settlements will be paid only after death and will never be paid in this life. Jesus Christ, Who is your insurer, your ultimate investor, and the true owner of your policy, alone reserves the right to review and decide upon your claim. Minor policy failures on your part will result in a time of purification, after which full payment will be tendered. Major policy failures on your part will result in the free-forfeiture of your settlement. Forfeited settlements may not be reinstated after death. Please consult with Jesus in this life to reinstate a forfeited settlement by contacting one of His priests for confession.
So allow me to say it in simple terms. Put God above all things. Love Him and serve Him every day to the best of your ability, and love your neighbor as yourself. When you fall, seek His forgiveness in the sacraments. Give yourself over daily to prayer and come to be nourished by the Lord’s Body and Blood every week at Mass. Live a life of self-sacrifice, give special care to the poor, and ask for help from the angels and saints to do all of this. Is this difficult? You bet it is. There’s a lot of mammon around to distract us, but fight the good fight. We’ll always have mammon to deal with, but the more we daily invest in heaven, the less mammon will have to offer us, and then the Kingdom of God will be at hand.