Homily — 22nd Sunday OT A 8/31/8

Homily — 22nd Sunday OT A                    8/31/8

I had quite an eventful night here at the Parish this past Thursday evening.

A little past six o’clock I’m sitting at my kitchen table eating dinner, when outside I hear this smashing sound coming from up the driveway.   I ran into the living room and on to the side porch, and see that one of the big windows in the school gym, the top most one closest to Mendon Rd, is all smashed in like someone through a big football through it.

Now, several weeks ago some vandals had thrown a couple small rocks at the front of the school, breaking a glass door and putting a small hole in one of the classroom windows, and we had just got them fixed two weeks ago.  I’m saying to myself “what, has the KKK or some other anti-Catholic group come to Rhode Island and targeting our school?”

But I’m looking up the road, and there’s all these cars stopped at the light — nothing suspicious.  I looked up and down the street, in back of the school — no ones around.   So I go inside the gym to see what the heck they threw that made such a big hole in the window, and when I get in the gym, there, on a table about 10 feet from the window, is this big wild Turkey, pretty stunned but still standing!

“Oh brother” I say.  How am I going to get this wild Turkey out of the school gym?   So I called the police, and said “hello officer, this is Fr. Woolley pastor of St. Joseph’s, you’re not going to believe this, but there’s a wild Turkey just crashed through the gym window.”  He said “Are you sure it’s not a fake Turkey that someone threw in there?”  “I didn’t get to close to it, but it looked pretty real to me.  Do you think you can get the animal police down here to take it out?”

It ended up that the school janitor opened the back door and chased it out, and the turkey, who amazingly didn’t seem hurt, ran across the parking lot and across the field and into the woods.

It appears that what happened was the Turkey was sitting on the telephone wire going to the Rectory, and must have saw either a tree or it’s own reflection in the window, and dived at it.   Larry Poitras, the school principal, came a few minutes later, and said “good thing this didn’t happen Tuesday night, while Bingo was going on!”

In today’s Gospel, we see St. Peter getting about as rude an awakening as that poor wild Turkey did.    In last Sunday’s Gospel, Peter was flying high and feeling pretty proud of himself.  He had declared before the other disciples His belief that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and Jesus was so pleased with Simon Peter’s statement of faith that He declared Peter to be the Rock on which He will build His Church.  Furthermore, Jesus had just promised to give Peter in the near future the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven — the authority of the Papacy — after Jesus had Risen and Ascended.

But immediately after this first Papal Coronation, Jesus begins to tell the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly . . . . and be killed.  And Peter takes Jesus aside and says “No way Lord, I’m not going to let that happen to you.”

And then Peter smashes through the school gym window:  Get behind me, you Satan!  You are an obstacle to me.  Jesus says to him – a better translation is you are a scandal to me.

No sooner does Jesus say that The gates of hell shall not prevail against my Church than Satan does try to prevail against the Church through tempting Peter.

And Peter must have felt as stunned as that wild Turkey did Thursday night, as Jesus, the One he knew was the Son of the Living God, was calling him Satan and a scandal.

Peter needed the rebuke though, because he truly was thinking as man does, not as God does — he wanted a Christianity without the Cross, a Catholicism without self denial and persecution.

And certainly, the best of us can fall into that temptation Peter fell into.  Taking up our Cross and following after Jesus is difficult — if it wasn’t difficult, it wouldn’t be the Cross.

But what drove the saints of old on to embrace the Cross, and what continues to drive the aspiring saints of today on to accept and embrace trials and persecution, is what the Psalmist and Jeremiah in the first reading speak about:  The thirst God puts in us for holiness.

In the first reading, we see Jeremiah at a point in his life where following God and speaking the truth has caused him much suffering in his personal and public life.  On the one hand, Jeremiah feels duped by God, he like Peter expected an easy road if he followed God.  But instead of an easy road, he says The word of the LORD has brought me derision and reproach all the day.

But while Jeremiah’s mad at God on the one hand, on the other hand he has this great thirst in his soul to keep following him to the Cross:  I say to myself . . . . I will speak in His name no more.  But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart . . . .and I can’t hold it in.

And as the Psalmist says For you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts, like the (parched) earth thirsts.  For your Love is a greater good than life.

And it was this same thirst for God the Father, this same thirst to bear witness to the Truth, that made Jesus unafraid of the Cross.  And it was that lack of thirst in Peter that made Jesus rebuke him and call him Satan and a scandal.

Let us pray at this Eucharist, that Jesus will put that thirst that He had for God the Father into our hearts, that we will seek throughout our life only to quench that thirst for holiness, and not the thirst for comfort and the passing things of this world we are at times tempted to quench.

For if we do, when the Son of Man comes with His angels in His Father’s glory to repay all according to his conduct, we will soar eternally with the Eagles, and not crash with the Turkeys!

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