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2017-06-18. Homily. Fr. François Beyrouti. Faithfully apply.

Homily. Fr. Francois Beyrouti. Sunday, June 18, 2017. Faithfully apply.

2nd Sunday after Pentecost – The call of the First Apostle.

Epistle: Second Sunday after Pentecost. Romans 2:10-16.

Prokimenon (Tone 1) Psalm 32:22,1
May Your kindness, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in You.
Stichon: Exult, you just, in the Lord; praise from the upright is fitting.

A Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans.
Brethren, glory, honor and peace to everyone who does good works, first to the Jew, then to the Greek, since with God there is no favoritism. For all those who have sinned without the Law will perish without the Law, and all those who have sinned under the Law will be judged under the Law. (Before God, indeed, it is not those who hear the Law who are just, but those who follow the Law who will be justified. When the Gentiles who do not have the Law do by nature what the Law commands, while they do not have the Law, they are their own
law: they show the work of the Law written in their hearts. The conscience bears witness to them, even when conflicting thoughts accuse or defend them) on the day when God will judge the hidden secrets of men according to what I preach, through Jesus Christ.

Alleluia (Tone 1) Psalm 17:48,56
O God, You granted me retribution and made peoples subject to me and saved me from my raging enemies.
Stichon: Therefore I will proclaim You, O Lord, among the nations and I will sing praise to Your name.

Gospel: 2nd Sunday after Pentecost. Matthew 4: 18-23 (Call of the First Disciples).
At that time as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). And He said to them, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And at once they left the nets and followed Him. And going farther on, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and his brother John, in a boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. And immediately they left their nets and their father, and followed Him. And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the Good News of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness among the people.

Today is the second Sunday after Pentecost and the Gospel focusses on two sets of brothers, Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John, who leave their fishing nets and their father to follow Jesus.

Every Sunday we read passages from the Bible and our prayers are composed of verses from the Old and New Testaments because we believe the Bible helps us celebrate all that God has done for us and it is also a guide for our daily life. Therefore it has relevance for the past and the present.

There are two important aspects of the Bible that we need to keep balanced. The first is to realize that the message of the Bible does not change and second is to figure out how we can apply the word of God in our daily life.

With regard to the first point, the Bible is not a smorgasbord from where we can randomly pick verses that are convenient for us.

Saint Paul writes in his second letter to Timothy: “As for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it [15] and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. [16] All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, [17] that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

Saint Paul focusses on two important aspects of our faith, first that we have the Bible as our daily guide and second that we have parents and religious leaders who teach us what is in the Bible from the time we are infants.

We need to always remind ourselves of the importance of the Bible in our life and our crucial role, regardless of our age, of learning and passing on our great faith. Although priests dedicate their whole life to this task, this role is not limited to them.

Saint Paul talks about his faithfulness to the message many times, in particular when he emphasizes that he is passing on a teaching that he received, not one that he made up himself.

For example in his first letter to the Corinthians he says in 11:23:
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, (1 Corinthians 11:23) and 15:3 “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received…” (1 Cor. 15:3).

Unfortunately today, we the baptized who have been given the responsibility to go out into the whole world and share this message often lack knowledge of it. Even worse sometimes we compromise the message of God by watering it down with all sorts of theories and explanations as to why the latest fads are more important than the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit upon the apostles to proclaim the Gospel with great power. It is always a good to question to ask ourselves how much of that power is in us and visible in what we do and say.

Unfortunately, we have become too lax in our reading of the Bible, in our prayer life, and in our commitment to live and share the good news with others.

Sometimes people say “Well I believe, but I don’t go to Church because I’m not a fanatic.” A strange idea has become too widespread that we are fanatics if we actually live what it is that we believe.

Imagine an athlete preparing for the Olympics who says: “I want to win a gold medal, but I don’t go to practice, because I’m not a fanatic.”
A person like that will not get on the podium, nor will he even be allowed near the team during the Olympics.

A student who says “I want to learn, but I don’t go to class because I’m not a fanatic” or an employee who says “I want to get a raise, but I don’t go to work because I’m not a fanatic” will not get very far.

Perhaps a common misconception is that the Bible is out of style and needs to be updated.

We update our Windows or Mac operating system and every few months we change our phones, why not get an updated version of the Bible that is more convenient? Can’t we have a Bible version that says it is ok to get drunk, ok to lie, ok to steal, ok to live an immodest lifestyle, and all the other oks that our modern world considers acceptable?

We have to always remember that the Bible will never be out of style, because it has never actually been in style. Even when the Bible was written it was difficult, but the early followers of Jesus not only struggled to live His message but also died because of their commitment to it.

In addition to the first point that the Bible message does not change, the second point I want to focus on today is that we have to figure out a way to apply it.

One of the big dangers in our life is to see the Bible as an old book that only has historical value. We may think it speaks about a time that is not ours, people we do not know, and places we have never been to. If this is the case how can we make this message ours?

I’ll give you an example from today’s Gospel of how it is important to change passages without changing the message.

We heard in today’s Gospel: “As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. [19] And he said to them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." [20] Immediately they left their nets and followed him. [21] And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zeb'edee and John his brother, in the boat with Zeb'edee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. [22] Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.”

The great thing about this passage is that it shows us how convincing Jesus was, how inviting Jesus was, and how dedicated Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John were to follow him.

But what is the problem? This happened in Galilee, we are in Orange county and this happened to four apostles who are now all dead. How and why is this relevant for us who don’t live in Galilee nor are we fishermen?

This is where a creative application takes place. Although we are not changing the message of the Bible, we can change some details.

For example let us replace “sea of Galilee” with “Placentia” and let us replace the names of the apostles with our names.

This passage would now read: “As Jesus walked by Placentia, he saw Fr.
Francois and his brothers and sisters at Holy Cross Church and he said to them, “Follow me.” Immediately they left everything and followed him.

By doing this we have not changed anything in the original passage, but we have allowed the message to be relevant in our lives.

There is a big difference in these two approaches. Some people want to water down the Bible message and others want to continue to drink and be nourished from it.

We don’t need a new version of the Bible, we need a new version of our operating system as we read the Bible.

As we gather every Sunday to hear the word of God, it is also an opportunity to commit to reading the Bible in a way that challenges what we are doing and the values that our world tells us are more important than leaving everything and following Jesus.

We gather every Sunday to reflect on the word of God, we gather to celebrate all the blessings God has given us, and we gather to update our lives as we re-commit to follow Jesus who is strengthening us and making us fishers of all people.

Father Francois Beyrouti
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537
Office: (714) 985-1710
My cell: (714) 914-1710


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