Thirtieth Sunday in
A Homily - Cycle A - 2010-2011
by Fr. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Exodus 22:20-26
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 18:2-3, 3-4, 47, 51
Second Reading - 1 Thessalonians 1:5c-10
Gospel - Matthew 22:34-40
Matthew wrote to show that Christ
Messiah and fulfilled the Jewish prophecies.
When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them (a scholar of the law) tested him by asking, "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."
I’ts World Mission Sunday. You know what that makes me think of …The Blues Brothers- Jake and Elwood. The great story of redemption, of bringing back their band, and raising money for a worthy cause. Why? Because they were on a “mission from God.” Elwood and his jailbird brother Jake are sent by their old teacher, a religious sister who ran a Chicago orphanage where the boys grew up. The orphanage needs funds to help pay off taxes, so the brothers are summoned to find a way to find those funds before foreclosure comes. Their plan? Bring back their blues band, stage a big gig and save the orphanage. Regardless of the countless obstacles that come their way…and boy are those obstacles are relentless. From bazooka-firing lunatics to Illinois State Police to Bob’s Country Bunker to the Illinois Nazis. Do they give up? Never, the cause is worth every risk, the money must be raised, the orphanage must be saved, it’s the most important goal through the entire movie.
While there are no saxophones or drums involved, our Lord similarly gives us the most important goals, the most important commandments, as a response to the goading of the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Formerly groups who never saw eye to eye, they decide to band together and peg our Lord with yet another trap, another obstacle, by asking Him which commandment is the greatest. Does He respond with the first? The second? The tenth? None of the above…He responds with commandments that come instead from Deuteronomy, the famous Jewish Prayer known as the Shema. Love God above all things, with everything that you have, with everything that you are (mind, soul, and heart). Makes sense, they knew this already. And then, He shocks them – there is a second, like the First and flowing from it, (originally in Leviticus), which commands us to love one another as ourselves. They’ve seen these two commandments before, but never put together! This is new, this is unheard of! We are now called to love our Lord completely, and from that love, we are to show that love for each other! If the Ten Commandments were seen as tough, if the 613 rules set forth by the Jewish leaders were seen as tough, then this new set of commandments might seem even tougher…Are we up to the task? Can we love that much?
We are, because we have been loved first by Love Himself. The Blues Brothers were visited by their old teacher, and their lives forever changes. We were visited by the God of all creation at the baptismal font, and our lives have been changed even more dramatically. From the power of their baptism, missionaries continue to proclaim the Good News and share the baptism that gives life, that transforms people and makes Christ present for them. Catholic Missionaries have always been driven to pursue this ministry, even with danger and obstacles. Even with many obstacles, Jake and Elwood continue without stopping, with uncanny poise through the entire movie, they…they are on a Mission from God, nothing can stop them. Nothing can stop the love of God being proclaimed through missionaries, who are motivated by their own baptism. Are we baptized like them? Oh yeah…so, we too are called to help this missionary movement in the Church, to bring people together, to love them, to spread the Good News, without stopping. We will help spread the presence of Christ and the love of God by the support we give to the missionary movement of the Church. It’s not a choice, it’s a commandment of Christ, it’s an intrinsic part of being baptized into this Holy Church! Just like being a Blues Brother demands saving the orphanage. We can do so, we can love this much, because we have the strength given us by the Holy Spirit. And we do so because it’s personal. Jake and Elwood wanted to save the building which helped raise them as children. We ourselves, every one of us, are children of missionary outreach, we’re adopted children of the Church, we are here, thanks to Missionaries from long ago!
And so we help support future children of the Church who will be adopted in the same way. By helping to spread the Gospel to them, through support and prayers, we help ourselves as members of the same Body of Christ, the same family, because we are born from the same baptism and nourished by the same Eucharist. Jake and Elwood were long-since departed from that Chicago orphanage, yet it still mattered greatly to them, young ones could still be cared for by the religious sisters there…many children of God await to be cared for by the Church, and today we remember that and support that on World Mission Sunday. We care about the good of the world-wide Church, because that is part of our own vocation, as moms and dads, sons and daughters, parochial vicars and pastors. Through our prayers, through our donations, through the sacrifices, the inconveniences, the small sacrifices of love we offer to the Lord, we offer for the future members of His family.
Today, may we renew our efforts in this Holy work. The Blues Brothers embarked upon theirs…no one could avoid noticing them…the same will be with us for it’s work that changes others and ourselves. Did Jake and Elwood encounter difficulties? Oh yeah…so will we…Did they ever give up? Not at all, the cause was too great. Our cause in infinitely great, for we are helping to provide and introduce eternal life for those who seek it, yet don’t know where to find it. Many adventures were endured by these two brothers for the sake of the Chicago orphanage…may we endure our own sacrifices, prayers and support for Love of the Lord and His People. We too were once un-baptized, we too were once lost from our Heavenly Father…then, we were brought home…we are called to bring others home as well. Besides the words of Consecration itself, some of the most sacred words said on Sunday are, “The Mass is ended. Go in Peace.” We come to Mass, in order to go forth - “Mass” means “Sent”! When we go forth in peace, we always go forth every time as adopted children, we go forth to bring others to this family…Yeah, I’m reminded of the Blues Brothers. Because, we too, are on a Mission from God.