The 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time – The Homily
This Thursday the women in the parish kick off “Walking With Purpose.” WWP originally hoped that 10 – 15 women would show up Thursday evenings at St. Monica. Over 80 women arrived that first night and the program has been running strong for over two years.
Something about WWP and “purpose” has resonated with these women. Purpose is about destiny. Purpose is about mission. Purpose is about happiness especially in the midst of adversity. In order to determine your purpose, you need to have an idea of who you are, what you do and where you’re going. In other words you need to have a vision that is in sync with the vision that God has for you. In addition, when you know what your purpose is … you also determine what things are not your purpose. “This is important because otherwise you will be distracted trying to do something that is not in the wheelhouse of what you were designed to do!” (See Bishop T.D. Jakes, “On finding Your Purpose” here)
Today’s Scripture readings address the idea that fulfillment of your vision involves three things:
- Provision – Fulfillment of your vision involves resources. If God gives you a vision, do you think that God will provide for you to fulfill that vision? Are you sure? John J. Pilch is a biblical scholar and facilitator of parish renewals. In his article, “Historical context,” he writes:
Today’s Gospel reading talks about “faith.” In the Mediterranean world Jesus is not a “mentor” but rather a “founder of a faction of followers” who gather around him. And Jesus demands “faith” from them. Faith, in the New Testament the word is better translated as “personal trust” or “steadfast loyalty” or “reliability” especially in the midst of adversity. Jesus, the founder of a faction devoted to the renewal of Israel, demanded loyalty to himself and his project.
Jesus, the founder of a faction devoted to the renewal of the Catholic Church and the world, Israel, demands loyalty to himself and this project of His.
Jesus, the founder of a faction devoted to the renewal of you and your life, demands loyalty to himself and this project of His.
Bishop Jakes says that, “The problem is that most people won’t talk about a vision of abundance in the midst of a drought. The bigger problem is that some people won’t talk about a vision of abundance in the midst of abundance.” God comes to you today and says, I will not give you a vision without provision. “What you visualize will materialize in its season.”
Pope John Paul II, in his “Address at Newfoundland, Canada in 1984” said something similar:
The apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. He answers with the metaphor of the mustard seed: “If you had the faith the size of a mustard seed, you could do whatever it is you want.”
The problem is that we do not have that kind of faith. We do not really believe that we can accomplish the things we desire. We cry out to God about the violence, ruin, and misery in our world.
We do not seem to believe that God’s “love for us surpasses all our hopes and desires.” Moreover, we do not have faith in our own ability to do wonders like move sycamores.
And so the world continues being overwhelmed with violence, ruin, misery, destruction, strife and discord. Poverty, hunger, oppression, and war exist not because they have to but because we do not have faith in God or in ourselves.
Above all, your faith in Jesus Christ and the hope that it generates in you are at the basis of all your aspirations for a better future. … May God our Father grant success to the work of your hands.
Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” So our prayer doesn’t need to be “Oh Lord, give me stuff.” It needs to be “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) Help me believe that you will supply the provision that will allow me to fulfill the vision that you have placed in my heart.
- Resolution aka: fortitude (= experience + pain)
Fulfillment of your vision involves a painful process. This pain typically comes from two sources; one spiritual, one temporal. Spiritually, you might be fueling your fruitlessness because you think your farsightedness is a fantasy. Proverbs 29:18 reads, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Satan is not a creative spirit. He does not want you building and making and generating. He wants you to be thinking about fainting and falling and failing. Why? Because the enemy knows the power of vision. But Paul says today in 2 Timothy, “Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. Stir into flame the gift of God that you have. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power.”
Temporally, we’re talking about people who haven’t made up their mind about God. Look at 1 Kings 18:17-40. The Prophets of Baal were defeated by God through the hands of Elijah. But the key to the story were the Israelites. They got “called out“ who was ashamed of them for not being to decide who they would follow. Everett Rogers developed the Diffusion of Innovation Theory while an Assistant Professor at Ohio State. He would claim that 50% of people who listen to your vision are “late adopters.” They’ll wait forever. They want a sure thing. They want 100% guarantee before they commit. They will tell you every reason why your vision won’t work UNTIL it does! They’re speaking doubt and you’re speaking faith.
Like Elijah and the Israelites, it’s tough trying to lead someone to a better place who hasn’t made up their mind.
- Determination – In today’s First Reading from Habakkuk we read, “The fulfillment of your vision takes time. The vision has its time, wait for it.” It takes time to get an answer. Unfortunately, people want answers and solution now and the prophet “called out” these people as well: “How long, O LORD? … The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.”
The LORD answered me and said:
Write down the vision clearly upon the tablets, so that one can read it readily. For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.
Destiny is not for comfort seekers. “We are a microwave generation serving a Crock-Pot God.” (See: T.D. Jakes, Destiny: Step into Your Purpose).
He continues saying, “Anything that we do for years that doesn’t match the inner imprint of our gifts will eventually become monotonous and routine, ritualistic and frustrating.” God doesn’t want you to wallow in mediocrity. God doesn’t want you to wander in this life. God created you on purpose – for a purpose. Part of that purpose is for you to come to a closer relationship with Christ so that the Shepherd can show you the way. In turn Christ wants you to help lead others to Him so that they, in turn, can fulfill their potential as well. This is what being a “disciple” is all about.
Audio version of the homily is here: