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2017-07-23. Homily. Fr. François Beyrouti. Catering to the needs of others.

July 23, 2017. Father François Beyrouti. Homily. Catering to the needs of others.
Seventh Sunday After Pentecost. Healing of the Two Blind Men.

PROKIMENON (Tone 6)
O Lord, save your people and bless your inheritance!
Stichon: To You, 0 Lord, I have called: O my Rock, be not deaf to me!

A Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans (15:1-7).
Now, we the strong should bear the infirmities of the weak, instead of catering to ourselves. Let every one of you please his neighbor by doing good for his edification: for Christ did not seek his own pleasure, but as it is written, The reproaches of those who, reproach you have fallen on me. (Ps.6: 10) For whatever has been written has been written for our instruction, that through the patience and consolation afforded by the Scriptures, we may have hope. May then the God of patience and comfort grant you to be of one mind towards one another according to Jesus Christ, so that being one in spirit you may with one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherefore receive one another as Christ has received you, in a manner that gives honor to God.

ALLELUIA (Tone 6)
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High abides in the shadow of the God of heaven.
Stichon: He will say to the Lord, “My wall, my refuge, my God in whom I will trust!”

The Holy Gospel According to St. Matthew the Evangelist (9:27-35).
At that time as Jesus was passing on, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying “Have pity on us, Son of David” And when He had reached the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this to you?” They answered Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “Let it be done to you according to your faith.” And their eyes were opened. And Jesus strictly charged them, saying, “See that no one knows of this!” But they went out and spread His fame abroad throughout all that district. Now as they were going out, behold, there was brought to Him a dumb man possessed by a devil. And when the devil had been cast out, the dumb man spoke; and the crowds marveled, saying, “Never has the like of this been seen in Israel.” But the Pharises said, “By the prince of devils He casts out devils.” And Jesus was going about all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Good News of the kingdom, and curing every kind of disease and infirmity in the people.

Homily
Catering and eating out is becoming more and more popular. Many people simply don’t want to bother or don’t have time to prepare food when they have events, or even just when they want to eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Although there is a major price difference between catering an event or eating at a restaurant versus preparing meals for yourself, many people seem to have no problem with the extra expense for this luxury. For example, a salad could cost you $12 but the ingredients in it most often don’t add up to more than $2-$3. More expensive meals are even worse. You could easily pay $35 for a lobster tail platter, but can buy a fresh lobster tail for as little as $5. Some people eat out every day and their monthly expense could easily be more than payments for a new car.

I’m not trying to convince you not to eat out, but it is interesting that we pay a premium price, put ourselves into debt, and limit our abilities to buy a car or house simply because we want the luxury of being catered to.

This also extends to other aspects of life as most children want their parents to cater to their needs. The mom and dad ATM seems to always be open; but of course for withdrawals only.

A student wrote this letter to his father and changed ever “s” in the letter to a $ sign.

Dear Dad,
$chool i$ great. I’m making lot$ of friend$ and $tudying hard. I $imply can’t think of anything I need, $o ju$t $end me a card, a$ I would love to hear from you. Love, Your $on

After receiving his son’s letter, the father sends his son a letter back and includes as many words as possible with the word “no” and makes sure that the letters “N” and “O” are in capital letters.

Dear Son,
I kNOw astroNOmy, ecoNOmics and oceaNOgraphy are eNOugh to keep even an hoNOr student busy. Do NOt forget that the pursuit of kNOwledge is a NOble task, and you can never study eNOugh. Love, Dad

Sometimes the phrase “I love you mom and dad” comes with a very high price.”

Also increasingly people want their employers to cater to them as they ask for their list of benefits before they think of how they can contribute. And unfortunately often people want friends based on how much they will cater to them.

This attitude of wanting everyone to cater to us is radically different from the Gospel message.

Saint Paul says in his letter to the Romans “we the strong should bear the infirmities of the weak, instead of catering to ourselves.” The RSV translation states: “We who are strong ought to bear the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves” (Romans 15:1).

We get used to want, and even expect people around us to cater to us or please us, but Jesus reversed this social order. We should not expect others to cater to us, but we should look for ways to cater to those around us, especially those who are in need.

A healthy Christian approach to life focuses on how I can cater to others with the gifts God has given me, rather than how they can cater to me so that I can be more comfortable.

A Church is healthy when every member finds ways to serve others. When we serve we are not just doing something for others. A Christian approach is more profound. Service is not an action but a vocation that God has put in our heart. When I serve, I serve first to thank God for what He has given me and that He has blessed me with the ability to serve.

Sometimes people think that Church service is only what priests do. In reality, when you were baptized you were commissioned by Jesus to serve. During every baptism we sing the hymn: “All of you who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” This is not poetry. This means that you are committed to aligning your life, thoughts, words, and actions to those of Christ.

Before we can align our lives to Jesus we have to know what he did. We find those answers in the Gospels which are the fireworks of Jesus’s love. When we read the Bible, every word and sentence should explode in meaning before us. For example, just this one verse from the Gospel of Matthew that we read today could be enough of a life goal for us. “Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every infirmity” (Matthew 9:35).

What did Jesus do? He walked, taught, preached, and cured. He did not post anything on Facebook, nor did He send a text or an email. He walked around and communicated personally with people. He taught them something they did not know, He preached to them the good news that He loves them, and He cured them of their sicknesses.

Yes it is ok to want others to do these things for us, but for a Church to be relevant and for its members to live their faith in a real way, our primary question is not “who is catering to our needs?” but “how are we catering to the needs of others?”

I feel very blessed to be a priest in this parish because every day I see a community of people who want to serve.

Last week we had our fourth annual Vacation Bible Camp. Twenty-two very happy children and over 45 just as happy volunteers attended. In addition to parents who helped, we are very proud of our youth who came out in large numbers doing everything from preparing the meals to taking out the garbage. Everyone worked together in a spirit of love and harmony. Why was this event successful? Because the children learned so much and also because this week was proof that no one came to be catered to, but everyone came with a true spirit of service.

From August 3-6 we will be having our annual youth retreat, which will help our young people reflect on how they can better serve.

Also yesterday, a group of four men spent a whole day clearing out dead trees and bushes so that we can double the size of our parking lot. We are having good problems at our Church. The parking lot is getting too small, but gratefully a group of parishioners are ready to serve. We will complete a project that could easily cost $40,000-$50,000, for under $15,000, which is only the cost of the materials and absolutely nothing for the many hours of labor it will take.

2017 will continue to be a great year because we are all looking for ways to cater to each other and not waiting to be catered to. We should never forget that this Jesus whom we follow said that He “came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

In today’s Gospel, as Jesus heals the blind men He tells them: “Let it be done to you according to your faith” (Matthew 9:29). This is the same message Jesus is telling all of us today. Whether we, our children, or our youth learn their faith and whether we are able to continue to make improvements and eventually build a hall and new Church is not magical, it has to be a purposeful process where all of us are committed to serve a cause that is greater than ourselves.

In our Catholic tradition, faith and works, not only go together, but they hug each other very tightly. Therefore, in addition to hearing “Let it be done to you according to your faith,” let us also clearly hear: “Let it be done to us according to our ability to cater to the spiritual needs of each other.”

Father François Beyrouti
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537
Office: (714) 985-1710
My cell: (714) 914-1710
HolyCrossMelkite.org
YouTube.com/HolyCrossMelkite
YouTube.com/MelkiteTV

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