2019-03-31 Father Francois Beyrouti's Homily: "From Stage to Stage."


From Stage to Stage. Father François Beyrouti homily on Sunday, March 31, 2019.
Fourth Sunday of the Great Fast (Lent). Sunday of Saint John of the Ladder.
Epistle. Hebrews 6:13-20. Gospel. Mark 9:17-31.
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Father François Beyrouti
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537
(714) 985-1710
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Homily.
Have you ever learned something by accident?

If you get a flat tire and there’s no one to help you, you’re going to learn, on the spot, how to fix a flat tire.

I’ve learned many things by accident. I’ve been here for six and a half years and by accident I’ve learned a lot about maintenance, electricity, sprinkler systems, renovations, lighting, tents, hall rentals, city by-laws, festivals, roofs, landscaping, air-conditioners, and heating.

All these topics have one thing in common; everything done well has a process. Things don’t just happen. If we are to do things well, there are always several stages that we need to follow in order, such as planning, budgeting, preparation, before the actual work.

For example, before we painted the walls, we had to replace some of the rotting wood, then we had to plaster, fill in the cracks, sand, put some primer, then and only then could we paint.

If we paint before we do all these things, in that order, the paint job would not last very long.

Understanding stages and order is important for everything we do in life from painting and maintenance to even growth in our spiritual life.

We often overlook how systematic Jesus is in his teachings. Jesus rarely heals or helps someone automatically. Most often, Jesus starts a dialogue to prepare the heart before healing the body.

There are at least 9 stages in today’s Gospel.
(1) The sick boy saw the apostles who could not heal him.
(2) Then the father of the boy brought him to Jesus.
(3) When the boy fell to the ground, Jesus asks his father: “How long has he had this?” and the father says: “From childhood.” (Mark 9:21)
(4) Then the father says: “if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us.” (Mark 9:22)
(5) Jesus then says: “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)
(6) “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, ‘I believe; help my unbelief!’” (:24).
(7) “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him, and never enter him again” (:25).
(8) “Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose” (Mark 9:27)
(9) Finally, when the apostles ask Jesus why they were not able to heal the boy, Jesus answers: “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29).

Jesus could have healed the boy but He preferred to show everyone that true and lasting healing requires clear and definite stages.

There are some highlights in these stages.

First, when Jesus asks his father: “How long has he had this?” and the father says: “From childhood” (Mark 9:21). Jesus reminds the father, the child, and everyone that this was a serious sickness that the boy had all his life. Jesus also point out that this sickness was so serious that not even the disciples could heal him. Jesus makes sure that everyone sees and acknowledges the problem.

Second, when the father says: “if you can do anything, have pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22). Jesus then says: “If you can! All things are possible to him who believes” (Mark 9:23). Jesus parallels the father’s words “if you can” and invites him to believe. The father says “I believe; help my unbelief!” Jesus heals the boy when the father put his faith in Jesus.

Finally, Jesus reminds everyone, especially the disciples that growth in our spiritual life is not possible without prayer and fasting.

It would be ridiculous to paint a wall before following the necessary stages of filling in the cracks and sanding. Today’s Gospel reminds us that we should not see our spiritual life as automatic.

In order to develop a deep spiritual life and grow in our faith we have to take small steps every day. Of course Lent is a time of increased prayer and fasting. I encourage everyone to think of the stages in today’s Gospel and the stages we go through when we do anything that works well.

Last week, Sherene, Eliana, and Marina gave a talk to the youth on fasting. They gave everyone homework to put your spiritual accomplishments on and a calendar. The good news is, I did my homework every day. We don’t do this mechanically, but there is a serious problem if we can’t say we prayed, fasted, or did anything good during the whole day.

Everything done well is done in stages.

St. John Climacus focuses on three stages of spiritual growth.
First, Silence. “The lover of silence draws close to God. He talks to Him in secret and God enlightens him.”

Second, Prayer. “Become aware of God, in whose presence you are while you pray . . . Then take a formula of prayer and recite it with perfect attention both to the words you are saying and to the Person to whom you are saying them.”

Third, a renewal of your faith commitment. “Those who submit to the Lord with simple heart will run the good race. If they keep their minds on a leash, they will not draw the wickedness of the demons onto themselves.”

In today’s Gospel, the boy’s father said: “I believe, help my unbelief.” This is our prayer. We believe and we need God to help us grow in our faith.

During these last few years, I’ve learned many things about landscaping and renovations.

Most important, I’ve learned that to do things well you need to follow clear stages and not hurry up the process. We have to ask: “What’s the goal?” “What’s the plan?” and “What’s the program?” Successful things are not an accident.

Write what you want to achieve and write the stages you will commit to achieving your spiritual goals. It is only with clear stages that we achieve lasting results.

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
Sign-up for our homily and bulletin e-mail list: HolyCrossMelkite.org/parish/homilies
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