Year C 29th Week Sunday Homily

10 minute homily for 1st year Homiletics class at Seminary of
Christ the King:

My brothers & sisters,

Do you want to know the saint’s secret to faith? and to having your prayers answered?

I don’t know about you, but today’s Gospel in the parable of the unjust judge can seem a bit depressing when I’m told that I need to pray always & that God will grant justice to those who cry out to Him day and night.

Maybe you feel like Moses in our 1st reading & have become far too tired trying to do it all yourself. Years and years of praying for the conversion of family members & friends… yet nothing seems to be answered. Maybe showing up to Sunday Mass and praying before bed seems to be all you can handle right now.

Don’t worry! One of my favourite saints, Therese of Lisieux, gives us great hope. She will help us to see what Jesus wants to tell us in today’s Gospel and the secret to faith and having our prayers answered.  

Many of us have heard of her “Little Way” but I would bet that few of us know about the consecration that she made 9 months after she discovered her “Little Way”.

On June 9th 1895 in a Carmelite monastery in Lisieux France, Therese and her sisters were reading the memoirs of a heroic nun who recently passed away: Sr. Marie. Sr. Marie’s life was heroic because – just like today’s Gospel – she cried out to God day and night to intercede for unrepentant sinners. She would approach God as a judge and make a deal with him, a deal that would go something like this: “Lord, please give me all the punishment that’s due to sinners, and then give to sinners the blessings I would normally receive as a faithful nun”.

You might find this surprising, but God would take her up on this offer. She would undergo severe sufferings to satisfy God’s justice and save souls. Even on her deathbed, Sr. Marie said: “I am bearing the harshness of divine justice! I have not done enough!”

St Therese says that she was impressed by such a heroic offering, but was far from feeling attracted to making a similar deal with God. We can breath a big sigh of relief to know that the “greatest saint of modern times” was not attracted to such a desire.

Nevertheless, Therese still wanted to be a great saint and to love God more than anyone else in history has ever loved Him… so she asked God to reveal to her in the Scriptures an answer to her desires… just as St. Paul says in our 2nd reading today that Scripture gives us wisdom and instruction for holiness…

Therese found an answer the next day in Mass in the psalms: Give thanks to the Lord for He is Good, for His MERCY endures forever!

Just as Sr. Marie had offered herself to God’s justice, Therese wanted to offer herself to God’s mercy.

Her sister Pauline – who was the prioress at the time – recounts that Therese’s face was all lit up as if she was set on fire with love when she asked her whether she could make this special offering to God.

Once Therese was allowed to make this special offering to God, she wrote down a beautiful prayer in offering herself to God’s merciful love.

I’ve attached the prayer in today’s bulletin, so feel free to read it after Mass… but as for now, I would like to highlight 2 points from this beautiful prayer. 

First. Therese realized that God desires to release His love and mercy FAR MORE than He would ever release His justice.

She writes “If Your Justice loves to release itself, this Justice which extends only over the earth, how much more does Your Merciful Love desire to set souls on fire since Your Mercy reaches to the heavens” 

This gets at the heart of what this Year of Mercy is all about. God desires to release his love and mercy. We just need to ask for it.  

Rather than approach God as some judge that is indifferent or does not care about what you are asking Him, know that He longs to answer your prayers and pour out His love and mercy on you. As Therese heard in the psalms: Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His mercy endures forever!

Whereas Sr. Marie would receive God’s justice due to sinners, Therese would receive all of God’s rejected mercy due to sinners. Sounds like a pretty good deal.

This is why Jesus says in today’s Gospel that God will quickly grant justice to his chosen ones. We are his chosen ones! We are the ones that God longs to pour out his love and mercy. Lets be confident and approach God as a Father who is eager to bless us and who wants to answer our prayers.  

To put this 1st point simply, let us approach God with great confidence because He is merciful.

The second point I would like to highlight from this prayer is that Therese realized that the secret to faith and having her prayers answered is putting her entire focus on Jesus rather than herself.  

Therese knew that she was weak and unable to be a great saint by her own working.

• But Jesus could do it for her. Jesus would be her sanctity.

Therese knew she could not pray always.

• But Jesus could do it for her. She just had to ask.

 Therese knew she could not earn any merits to have her prayers answered.

• But Jesus could. He has already earned it all for her! 

Therese says in her prayer that at the end of her life, she will appear before the judgment seat of God empty handed. Because then Jesus will have to be her all, her everything, her sanctity, her love.

In today’s Gospel, Therese would never have gone alone to ask God for anything, but would have hired a lawyer: Jesus! And he would intercede for her!

This is a beautiful expression of her total confidence in Jesus!

To put this 2nd point simply, focus your attention entirely on Jesus.

A great way to practically live out these 2 key points of approaching God with confidence and focusing your attention on Jesus is by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  

I have put instructions in the bulletin for how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet if you are interested in taking up this beautiful devotion.

In the divine mercy chaplet, a prayer given to St. Faustina by Jesus Himself, we focus entirely on Jesus… we offer up with great confidence the infinite merits that Jesus earned from his death to the Father to intercede for others. Jesus promised St. Faustina that everything you ask for through the Chaplet will be granted, as long as it is in line with His will for our lives.

In a way, the divine mercy chaplet is a continuation of the Mass in which we offer up the 1 perfect sacrifice of Jesus in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

As we approach this Eucharist, know that you can offer to God the infinite merits of Jesus Christ for any prayer intention you have. Just say a quick prayer after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, something like this: Heavenly Father, I offer you Jesus in the most holy Eucharist for the conversion of my family…  This is an extremely powerful prayer.

Through the intercession of St. Therese of Lisieux, may we offer ourselves to God’s merciful love with great confidence and focus our entire lives upon the love of Jesus.

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