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2018-11-25 Homily. Fr. François Beyrouti. "More than Just Good"

More than Just Good. Homily. Father François Beyrouti. Sunday, November 25, 2018.

Thirteenth Sunday after the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Gospel of the Rich Man
Epistle Galatians 3:23-4:5 (15th Thursday after Pentecost)
Prokimenon (Tone 4) Ps.67: 36, 27.
Awesome in his saints is God, the God of Israel.
Stichon: In the churches, bless God, the Lord out of Israel’s wellsprings.

A Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians. (3:23-29; 4:1-5).
Brethren, before the faith came, we were kept imprisoned under the Law, shut up from the faith that was to be revealed. Therefore the Law has been our tutor unto Christ, that we might be made holy by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. For all you who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor freeman; there is neither male nor female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise.

Alleluia (Tone 1) Ps.39: 2, 3. I have waited, waited for the Lord, and he stooped toward me and heard me. Stichon: He set my feet upon a rock; he made firm my steps.

Gospel. Luke 18:18-28.
At that time a certain man approached Jesus and asked him, saying, “Good Master, what shall I do to gain eternal life?” But Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but only God. You know the commandments; ‘Thou shat not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness. Honor thou father and mother.” And he said, “All these I have kept ever since I was a child.” But when Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing is still lacking to you; sell everything you own, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When he heard these things, he was much grieved, for he was very rich. But Jesus, seeing him become sad, said, “With what difficulty will the wealthy enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And they who heard it said, “Who then can be saved?” He said to them, “Things men cannot do alone, they can do with God’s help.”

Homily
A wealthy man asks Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

This seems like a fair question. We ask this kind of question in our day to day life when we want to reach a particular goal. For example, “What must I do to pass my test or get better grades?” “What must I do to have that particular person as a friend?” Or, “What must I do to get a better job?”

So when it comes to our faith, we naturally ask ourselves: “What must we do to live a Christian life?” “What must we do to get to heaven?” Or “What must we do to better love God?”

The answers to these questions are sometimes clearer than at other times.

When the ruler asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds in a very clear way. He simply recites some of the ten commandments; commandments which any devout person would have known and would have been trying to live: “Do not commit adultery,” “Do not kill,” “Do not steal,” “Do not bear false witness,” and “Honor your father and mother.”

At this point, Jesus does not tell the man anything new or anything he did not already know. The man asks a question and Jesus answered it. We would expect the dialogue to end and everyone to go home.

Then all of a sudden without another question being asked, Jesus continues the discussion by telling him that there is still one thing that he lacks: “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Luke 18:22). This statement is more than a just a challenge to sell everything he had. Above all it is an invitation to follow Jesus in an undistracted way and to not let anything, not even money, get in the way of following Him.

This dialogue reminds us that we can keep all the commandments, but still not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Being good is not good enough. Today, Jesus invites us not to simply be content with “doing” good, but to move towards a daily, real, and living relationship with Him.

There is a story of three guys who went to a church to be baptized. The priest told them to go do something good. After a week they came back to the Church. “What good did you do this week?” the priest asked them. “I helped an old lady cross the road” said the first. “I helped that same old lady cross the road,” said the second. “I helped them help that old lady cross the road,” said the third. The priest asked: “Why did it take all three big guys to help one old lady cross the road? How difficult could that have been.” They said: “Father it was very very difficult because she had a stick and she did not want to cross the road.”

Being a follower of Christ is not only about doing some random good, it is about knowing who we are and knowing where we are in our relationship with God.

We do not need to figure this out, as the Bible tells us many times who we truly are. For example: “You are this day as the stars of heaven” (Deuteronomy 1:10), “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14), “You are God’s temple, God’s Spirit dwells in you, you are the image and glory of God (1 Cor 3:16 and 1 Cor 11:7), “For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God” (Galatians 3:26), and “You are all sons of light and sons of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

When we become aware of our Christian dignity we progress from asking: “What must I do?” to “What must I be?” If you know who you are you do not have to think much about what you need to do because good actions flow from a right understanding of our dignity.

Though who we are effects what we do, it is not always true that what we do effects who we are. We can practice our faith only at the level of going through the motions. We can come to Church, light a candle, receive communion, but yet all this can not have a real effect on our day to day life.

Today Jesus says: though, keeping the commandments is essential, there is something more, and that is who you are and who you are in relationship with God.

Jesus does not dismiss that to follow Him, there are some specific things that we must do, primary among these are the commandments. However, we need to let what we do flow from who we are, rather than just doing things for the sake of appearing to do something good.

This Gospel is not primarily about money, though sometimes a preoccupation with money distracts us from living our Christian faith. This Gospel is about anything that we place in the way of being a follower of Christ. Sometimes we become obsessed with “being” rich, “being” powerful, or “being” influential. Today Jesus tells that above all we must be concerned about “being” a Christian not in a routine way, but in a real and practical way so that nothing can stop us from responding to Jesus’ call: “Come Follow Me.”

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
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