Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

One of the characteristics of any sport is the camaraderie y mutual support that exists between the team. As soon as a fracas, or a brawl flares up you will see every member of the team getting involved some will make the situation worse, others will try to calm the situation by pulling the most heated (agitated) players away from the situation. When we look at the psychology of this the reason behind it is the mutual support between the members of the team. The second reading today from the Letter to the Hebrews uses this metaphor of a sporting event – a race to encourage all of us to keep running steadily in the race we have started. This has a lot of relevance for us today as we see so many people who have started the race of faith and are falling by the wayside. We are in danger of losing some perennial values that our ancestors have faithfully handed down to us. We are aware of the monumental changes in our society and in our church, while a lot of these changes have improved our quality of life; we have become a more secular, materialistic society. We have become a very individualistic society; we are so busy that we seem to have very little time for each other and for our community. We have so many means of communication now a days, social media platforms, email, WhatsApp; text messages, but we have less time to sit down and speak face to face with each other. When it comes to our faith, we see so many people falling by the wayside; some people give up attending mass; others give up praying the rosary, the angelus; some people give up going to confession, etc. Returning to our sporting metaphor we must never get discouraged, nor permit others to discourage us. We must draw strength from each other and support each other. As a priest one aspect which I find very motivating is to see the dedication and fidelity of so many good people in our church willing to lend a hand, to help in so many ways. We need to draw strength from each other and encourage each other not to give up. It is up to each one of us to play our part in the effort of the whole team. I remember a story of the Parish Priest who received a lot of criticism over the lack of activity in the Parish. There were complaints that the parish was dead. One Sunday when he was reading the list of the dead, he announced to a startled congregation that he regretted to inform them that the Parish was dead and that he would be conducting a funeral service the following Sunday. It’s not surprising that there was a lot of gossip & speculation during the week that followed. The following Sunday the packed congregation was confronted with open casket in front of the altar. The Parish priest preached a touching homily. Before the final commendation he invited the congregation to come up in single file to pay their last respects. The coffin was empty but unknown to them he had placed a full-length mirror along the bottom board. As they looked in what they saw was their own faces. It is very easy to be the proverbial hurler on the ditch, sit back and complain about the lack of activity in our community and in our parish, we must never forget we are the community, we are the Parish, and it is up to each one of us to play our part in forming and maintaining a vibrant, dynamic, and active community and Parish. As followers of Christ, we must be ready to struggle against all obstacles on our road of life; It’s not a solitary struggle, buy one we make together. As the Liverpool anthem goes, you’ll never walk alone. We are running together in the greatest race of all, so let us pray for each other and support each other.