True Love Fr. Roberto 2019-9-29
Homily for 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP
St. Dominic’s Church, Los Angeles, CA
September 29, 2019
Preaching Series #4 of 4: It’s All about Jesus
Title: True Love
Theme: Do we have a deep, committed and true love for Jesus?
Readings: Amos 6:1a, 4-7; 1Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31
A man named John Wood was working as a marketing director for the Microsoft Corporation in Asia. He was 33 years old, making a lot of money and had a promising future. However, in 1998, while on a business trip, he came across a remote school at the foot of the Himalayas in Nepal that served about 450 children in that area. Unfortunately, the school had a very big problem: it did not have any books for the kids. John was so moved by their need that eventually, with his own money, he bought and sent them hundreds of books by donkey caravan. When John found out how happy kids were when they received the books, it impacted him so much that it changed his life. Shortly afterward, he quit his job at Microsoft and, in the year 2000, founded a non-profit organization called “Room to Read.” On page one of your worship aids, you can see the organization’s logo and some of the amazing things it has accomplished in the last 19 years: they have helped 16.8 million children in 16 countries; they train 10,000 teachers each year; they have established or expanded 37,000 schools and libraries; and they have distributed 26 million books.
When I first came across this incredible story a couple of years ago, I was blown away. My reaction was: “Wow, what an amazing impact this one person has had on so many lives!” And the question I want to ask you today is, what do you think caused John Wood to do all this? What caused him to leave a great job, lots of money and a bright career? And, because I am sure it has not been easy for him to do all this, what has kept him going at it for these nineteen years? Well, I suppose it could be any number or combination of things, but I would guess that the main driving force that has helped him accomplish all this is simply love. I say that because all that he has done these 19 years can only be sustained by something as strong and lasting as love: a deep, committed and true love.
I hope every one of you here has experienced that kind of love in your life. I hope each of you has received a deep, committed, true love; and, more importantly, I hope each of you has given that kind of love to someone. True love is all about giving yourself away to another person, isn’t it? Just think about all the things you have done in your life because you truly loved someone. True love will always draw you out of yourself and move you outward toward others; it will always inspire you to grow, to change, to sacrifice yourself for the good of the other and to commit to that relationship. True love ultimately impacts both the one who is loved and the one who loves, and true love will always make you a better person.
Now, in today’s Gospel we have another example of love. However, it is not a true love that is focused outward on others, but a false love that is focused on the self. The rich man in the parable was entirely self-absorbed. His love and his life were completely turned inward toward himself, and, therefore, he had absolutely no love, no compassion, and not even any interest in poor Lazarus who was lying at his doorstep. This rich man was actually a poor man who was trapped in his own tiny world that was all about himself. He made no attempt to allow himself to be drawn out of his tiny world towards others or to make even the smallest sacrifice for anyone. Therefore, he had no impact on Lazarus or probably on anyone else for that matter.
To me, this parable of the rich man and Lazarus is one of the saddest that Jesus ever told, and it has inspired me to talk to you today about love, a deep, committed, true love: the kind of love that has impelled John Wood to do what he has done for these nineteen years, and the kind of love which has impelled you to sacrifice yourself for others and impact their lives. In some ways, this is what I have been talking about these last four weeks in this preaching series, “It’s All about Jesus.” I have been trying to share with you about the deep, committed and true love Jesus has for you, and challenging you to respond to him with that same kind of love. I hope you can understand better after these four weeks just how much Jesus loves you and how much you need Jesus, not just in your life but at the center of your life. And I hope that will lead you to an ever deeper, more committed and truer love that will change the way you live your Catholic faith.
What this whole preaching series comes down to, and what I would say that our whole Catholic faith comes down to, is this: falling in love with Jesus. Not just knowing about him, not just believing in him, and certainly not just treating him as an acquaintance that you talk to once in a while; but falling in love with him, having a deep, committed and true love for him and making your life all about him. This is the love that will sustain you in the ups and downs of your spiritual journey; it is the love that will inspire you to give God your best and not your leftovers; and it is the love that will truly impact your life and the lives of those around you.
I would like you to take a few moments right now and think about all that Jesus has done for you in your life: how he has blessed you and touched you in so many ways. Let those thoughts fill your heart with gratitude and a desire to show your love for Jesus and to grow in your love for him. I would like to give you an opportunity now to show Jesus, to show yourself and to show others who are here in church how much Jesus means to you. So, I would like to have an altar call right now. I invite you to leave your pew and come up here to the altar with me as a way of showing your love for Jesus and your commitment to your relationship with him.
This is something that is not usually done in Catholic churches, but I think it is important for us Catholics now and then to do something public to witness our faith to each other. If you really want Jesus to touch your heart, to change your life and to draw you closer to him, I invite you to come to the altar right now. Don’t be afraid to leave your pew, don’t be afraid of what others might think. Step out in faith. For those who cannot walk that well, you may simply stand in your pew, if you wish, or even stay seated. Please remember that this altar call is not meant simply to give you a nice momentary feeling; it is meant to be an encounter with the Lord and have a real impact on your life. This is a moment where are saying: “Okay, Lord, I give myself to you; now what do you want me to do?”
I invite you to open your hands with your palms up if you are comfortable doing so to show you are open to what God wants to do in you right now. You may also close your eyes if you wish to help you concentrate. And now I would like to ask all of you who wish – whether you are up here at the altar, standing or sitting in your pew – to repeat after me this prayer of commitment:
Lord Jesus, // I open my heart to you right now. // I want to show you my desire //
for a deeper faith//
I want to fall more deeply in love with you. // I want to live for you, Lord.//
I want to share your love with others. //
Lord, help me to let go// of any resentment, bitterness or anger //
of any guilt or shame from past mistakes // of any sin in my heart //of any fears that hold me back.//
Lord, give me strength as I walk // this journey with you //
Help me to give you my best // and not my leftovers. //
Lord Jesus, please change me, // please guide me, // and please fill me with love for you. // Amen.
…Now, just stay in this moment of prayer for a few seconds and know that Jesus is with you and loves you…let him speak to your heart…
Now you may return to your seat. Thank you for participating in this altar call; for your humility in recognizing your need for Jesus and your willingness to show your love for him. I hope this experience will strengthen you in your journey with the Lord. Remember, my brothers and sisters: it’s all about Jesus!
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