2017-01-15 Homily. Father François Beyrouti. Inner change for external change. AUDIO RECORDING INCLUDED.
January 15, 2017. Homily. Father François Beyrouti.
Inner change for external change.
Sunday, January 15, 2017. Twelfth Sunday after the Holy Cross
Epistle: Colossians 3:4-11 (29th Sunday After Pentecost)
PROKIMENON (Tone 4)
How great are your works O Lord!
In wisdom you have wrought them all.
Stichon: Bless the Lord, O my soul!
You are very great indeed, O Lord my God!
Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Colossians
Brethren, when Christ, our life, appears, then you too shall appear in glory. Put to death whatever in your members is of the earth: immorality, uncleanness, lust, evil desire, covetousness, which is a form of idol-worship. Because of these passions, God’s wrath comes upon the sons of disobedience and you yourselves once walked in them when they were your [way of] life. But now, you too put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, abusive language and foul-mouthed utterances. Do not lie to one another. Strip off the old man with his deeds and put on the new, one that is being renewed towards perfect knowledge according to his creator’s image (Cf. Gn.1:26) Here there is no Gentile and Jew, no circumcised and uncircumcised, no Barbarian and Seythian, no slave and freeman, but Christ is all things, and in all.
String your bow, go forth, reign for the sake of truth, meekness and righteousness and your right hand shall lead you wonderfully.
Stichon: You loved righteousness and hated iniquity: therefore God, your God, anointed you with the oil of joy above your companions.
GOSPEL: Luke 17:12-19 (12th Sunday After the Holy Cross)
At that time as Jesus was entering a certain village, there met him ten lepers, who stood afar off and lifted up their voice, crying, “Jesus, master, have pity on us.” And when he saw them he said, “Go, show yourselves to priests.” And it came to pass as they were on their way that they were made clean. But one of them, seeing that he was made clean, returned, with a loud voice glorifying God, and he fell on his face at his feet, giving thanks; and he was a Samaritan. But Jesus answered and said, “Were not the ten made clean? But where are the nine? Has no one been found to return and give glory to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Arise, go your way, for your faith has saved you.”
So far 2017 has been a terrible year. Why? Because it has already rained on at least five days.
It was terrible because if you did not have an umbrella you had to go out and buy one. It was terrible even if you did have an umbrella because it probably took you at least an hour to find it and you ended up being late for work or school. Even worse when it stopped raining you put your umbrella away because you didn’t think you needed it for another year, then when you got to your destination it started to rain again and you got soaked.
What a terrible way to start 2017. Hopefully we will all be able to overcome our depression if no more of that wet stuff comes down from the sky.
As 2017 began we all hoped for a great year but did we stop to ask ourselves what our hope was built on? Too many times we hope for good things to happen but fail to realize that good things don’t just happen. When good or bad things take place we frequently live by slogans rather than by solid Biblical principles.
For example, when something good happens people often say “the stars aligned for me.” When something bad happens some people say “God is testing us.” First God does not send us problems to see how tough we are and second the stars do not determine our destiny. Too often we credit or blame external elements for our happiness or misery but the Bible warns us against this approach.
For example with the inauguration of a new president this Friday some people are optimistic and some are pessimistic about the future, but our role as believers is not to get stuck in these two options. Our primary role is to pray for our leaders and for our government.
We ask God to bless our leaders and to help them and their team make good decisions for the good of everyone. This is more powerful than emotions of optimism or pessimism because ultimately we should never forget that God is in charge. As we read in Psalm 146:3 (GNT): “Don’t put your trust in human leaders; no human being can save you.”
We all want 2017 to be a good year but at the end of the year will we determine whether it has been a good year by the times it has rained, by government policies, or by something more spiritual and profound.
Today’s letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians tells us very clearly how we can make sure 2017 will be the best year ever for all of us: “When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.  Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. …  But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth” (Colossians 3:4,5,8).
It is much easier to blame the weather or our politicians for our mood, but the Bible challenges us to fix what is inside us before we focus too much on what is around us.
Optimism and pessimism are useless if we do not have a plan for inner change. If we want good things to happen but are not committed to change something in our life to make those good things happen then we will be greatly disappointed at the end of this year.
For a believer optimism and pessimism are not just a matter of perspective. Some people say that an optimist sees a glass half full and a pessimist sees it half empty. This may be true but the believer thanks God for the water then uses that water to nourish himself and others.
Whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist is not going to change the amount of water in the glass, but what you do with that water and the talents you have will truly determine whether you will have a good or bad year. We have to stop worrying about things we have absolutely no control over and focus more on the gifts, resources, and opportunities that God has given us.
The famous philosopher Socrates once said: “Everyone should get married. If it works out you will be very happy. If it doesn’t, you will become a philosopher.” People sometimes become too philosophical about difficulties. They say things like “Bad things always happened to good people.” This isn’t true. Every day in our life good things happen and bad things happen. The definition of a successful life is not whether good or bad things happen but how we deal with whatever happens.
Faith teaches us that joy comes when we place our hope in the power of God. Saint Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope” (Romans 15:13).
As we continue to plan for this upcoming year let us never forget that it will be terrible if we expect it to be great but do absolutely nothing, it will be mediocre if we do things in a mediocre way, and it will be great if we commit to doing great things with a spirit of dependence and gratitude to God.
Father François Beyrouti
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537