Books of the Bible Index of Homilies
Matthew Mark Luke John The Acts Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians Galatians Ephesians Philippians Colossians 1 Thessalonians 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy 2 Timothy Titus Philemon Hebrews James 1 Peter 2 Peter 1 John 2 John 3 John Jude Revelation Genesis Exodus Leviticus Numbers Deuteronomy Joshua Judges Ruth 1 Samuel 2 Samuel 1 Kings 2 Kings 1 Chronicles 2 Chronicles Ezra Nehemiah Tobit Judith Esther 1 Maccabees 2 Maccabees Job Psalms Proverbs Ecclesiastes The Song of Songs The Book of Wisdom Sirach Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations Baruch Ezekiel Daniel Hosea Joel Amos Obadiah Jonah Micah Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah Haggai Zechariah Malachi
No one can serve two masters.... You cannot serve God and mammon (Mt 6:24-34)
The parable of the sower (Mt 13) helps us to understand this. The seed that fell upon thorny ground was choked. But who choked it? Jesus says ‘riches and worldly concerns’. We see that Jesus had clear ideas on this. Riches and worldly concerns therefore choke the word of God, they prevent it from growing and the word dies choked because it is not tended.
What do these riches and concerns do to us? They merely cut us out of time. Our whole life rests on three pillars: one in the past, one in the present and another in the future. This is clear in the Bible; the pillar of the past is the choice.... The Lord chose us. Each one of us can say: ‘the Lord chose me, he loved me, he said come, and in Baptism he chose me to follow a path, the Christian path’. The future is the promise Jesus made to humankind. He chose me to walk towards a promise, he made a promise to us. Lastly, the present is our response to this God who is so good, who chose me, who makes me a promise and suggests a covenant to me; and I make a covenant with him.
Choice, promise. covenant; these are therefore the three pillars of the entire history of salvation. However it can sometimes happen that when our heart enters this, which Jesus explains to us, it cuts out time. It cuts out the past, it cuts out the future and is confused in the present.
This happens because those who cling to riches are not concerned with either the past or the future. they have everything. Wealth is an idol. It has no need of a past, a promise, an election or a future, it needs nothing. What we worry about is what can happen.
Those attached to wealth therefore cut off their relationship with the future..... However this does not lead them to a promise so they remain confused and lonely. Let us not cut out the past. We have a Father who has set us on our way. And the future is joyful too, for we are journeying toward a promise and no concerns surface. The Lord is faithful, he does not disappoint. And so, let us go onwards. Let us remember well: the seed that falls among thorns is choked... by riches and worldly concerns: two elements that make us forget the past and the future; so we have a Father but we live as though we did not have one and our future is uncertain.
Ask the Lord for the grace not to err by giving importance to the concerns and idolatry of riches, but always to remember that we have a Father who chose us and promised us something good; we must therefore walk toward that promise, taking the present as it comes.
The Holy Spirit speaks to us: “Brethren, as the Holy Spirit Says”. And in this passage from the Letter to the Hebrews there are two words that the Holy Spirit repeats: ‘today’ and ‘heart’. Paul writes, in fact: “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts”. Psalm 94: “we have requested this grace: that our heart not harden, that it not be hard”.
Hence, “today” is the first word. But “the ‘today’ that the Holy Spirit is speaking about is our life, it is ‘a today’, as the same Spirit says, ‘full of days’, but it is a today. It is a today after which there will be no replay, in other words, no “tomorrow”, only “today”. And the sunset may be closer or farther off, but it is today, a today chosen by God, a today in which we have received God’s love, God’s promise that we can find him, be with him”. It is “a today in which, in every day of this today, we can renew our covenant by faithfulness to God. But it is a today, because there is only one today in our life.
Of course, there is always the temptation to say “I’ll do it tomorrow”. It is the temptation of the tomorrow that will not be, as Jesus himself explains to us in the parable of the 10 virgins: five foolish [maidens] went to buy oil, which they didn’t have. Yes, later, tomorrow. But in the end, when they arrived, the door was shut.
Thus, life “is today”. It is a today that begins and a today that ends; a today full of days, but it is today. The parable of the man who went to the Lord and knocked at the door: ‘Lord, open up, it’s me, don’t you remember? I ate with you, I was with you’. But the Lord answers him: “I don’t know you, you arrived late”.
I say this not to scare you, but simply to say that our life is a today. It’s either today or never. I think about this. The tomorrow will be the eternal tomorrow, with no sunset, with the Lord, for ever, if I am faithful to this today. And, the question I ask you is this one that the Holy Spirit asks: ‘how am I living this today?’.
The other word found in reading from the Letter to the Hebrews proposed for the day’s liturgy is “heart”. For “with our heart, we encounter the Lord”. But, how is our heart?. Saint Paul gives specific advice in his Letter: “Do not harden your hearts”. Thus, it is good to ask ourselves if our “heart is hard, if it is closed”, perhaps “faithless, sinful, seduced”. After all, Jesus often rebukes the people who are slow at heart, slow to understand. It is precisely “in our heart” that “the today is at play”. This is why we must ask ourselves if “our heart is open to the Lord”.
It always strikes me, when I find an elderly person, oftentimes a priest or a nun, who tells me: ‘Father, pray for my final perseverance’. It is natural to ask those persons if they have fear after having lived their whole life well, living every day of their “today in service to the Lord”. But it is really not a question of fear, as those people respond: “The sun has not yet set on my life, I would like to live it fully, pray that today is full, full, with my heart steadfast in faith and not ruined by sin, by vices, by corruption”.
Above all, today: this today full of days, but a today that will not be repeated; today, the days keep repeating until the Lord says ‘enough’. But “today is not repeated: this is life”. The second word is “heart”, and we must always keep our heart open to the Lord, not closed, not hard, not hardened, not faithless, not sinful, not seduced by sins. And the Lord encountered many who had a closed heart: the doctors of the law, all these people who persecuted him, put him to the test in order to condemn him, and in the end managed to do so.
Let’s go home with just these two words: “how is my today?”. Without forgetting that “the sunset might be today, this very day or many days thereafter”. But it is important to check “how my today is going in the Lord’s presence”. We should also ask ourselves: “how is my heart: is it open, is it steadfast in faith, does it let itself be led by the Lord’s love?”. And with these two questions let us ask the Lord for the grace that each one of us needs.