The Main Thing 2022-8-28 Fr. Roberto
Homily for 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C
Fr. Roberto Corral, OP
St. Dominic Church, Los Angeles, CA
August 28, 2022
Title: The Main Thing
Theme: The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
Readings: Sirach 3:17-18, 20, 28-29; Hebrews 12:18-19, 22-24a; Luke 14:1, 7-14
In 1989, a well-known educator, businessman and inspirational speaker named Stephen Covey wrote what was to become his best-selling book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
I am sure some of you have heard of that book. To date, 25 million copies have been sold in 52 different languages throughout the world. In that book, Mr. Covey came up with what is now a very famous quote that goes like this: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Do you get it? “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” Now, perhaps you have heard it before, but isn’t it pretty catchy? What he is saying is, remember what is most important, and don’t get caught up in things that are ultimately not that important. I have heard that quote used in different contexts over the years; for example, about how to be successful in business, how to increase your self-esteem and other areas. But today, I want to use that quote to talk about our Gospel, about our lives in general, and especially about our relationship with God.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about being invited to a wedding banquet, and he tells his listeners not to spend so much energy competing with others for the places of honor at the banquet. Jesus makes the important point to his listeners that they should be humble rather than trying to exalt themselves. And I would add that those guests who were trying to exalt themselves fell into the sin of pride precisely because they made the main thing all about them and their status and position. They ignored or purposely set aside the fact that the main thing at a wedding banquet is the couple who have gotten married, their happiness and their desire for the invited guests to share in their happiness. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing; and Jesus is telling us in this Gospel that we need to have the humility to recognize that we are not the main thing.
Of course, this Gospel is not just about wedding banquets; it is about life itself. Like the people Jesus was speaking to 2,000 years ago, you and I can be tempted in our lives to make the main thing about us, our needs, our desires, our agenda, etc. For example, how many people do you know who have made the main thing in life about having more: about having more money, having more and nicer clothes, more jewelry, a nicer car, a bigger house? How many people have made the main thing in life their job or career, their social standing, their business or academic success or recognition, etc. None of those things is necessarily bad, but they are not meant to be the main thing.
So then, you might be asking yourself, “Well then, what is the main thing?” Jesus answered that question in another gospel when he said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” For Jesus, that was and always will be the main thing. In other words, the main thing in life is relationships: our relationship with God and our relationship with others, especially our loved ones. If we remember that, if we keep that main thing the main thing, it does not mean that we will not have problems and struggles in our lives, but it does mean that we will ultimately find meaning, happiness and peace no matter what happens. If we don’t keep those key relationships as the main thing in our lives, we are going to have some major issues, and we are going to end up unhappy.
For example, through the years, I have known a number of couples who were very much in love with each other when they got married or began living together. Eventually, they had kids. But then, they began to focus so much on raising and caring for their kids, that they forgot to continue to nurture their own relationship as a couple. Unfortunately, because of that, they eventually separated or divorced or simply lived out a lukewarm relationship. They were great parents and good people, but they forgot to keep the main thing – their relationship with each other – as the main thing.
Another temptation that can cause us to forget to keep the main thing the main thing is when we have a conflict with someone, especially if it is someone we care about: a family member, friend, coworker or school mate for example. So often, when we are angry or upset with them, we can forget to keep in our minds that our relationship with them is the main thing, and we can focus on being right, on winning the argument, on making them feel bad, etc. Again, the point is not that we cannot have disagreements and conflicts with others, but that we have to remember what matters most: our ongoing relationship with them. So, when you are struggling in any of your relationships, ask yourself the question, “What is the main thing right now?”
Finally, I want to apply this principal of keeping the main thing the main thing to our spiritual lives. As Catholics, we have many different ways we can express our faith: coming to Mass, receiving the sacraments, reading the Bible, praying, serving others, participating in a ministry, giving money to the collection or to other charitable causes, etc. Those are all good, helpful and important things to do. However, as Jesus told the Jewish religious leaders of his time on many, many occasions, the main thing is not our external religious observances; the main thing, what matters most to God, is our heart. That is the main thing because once God has our heart, then everything else will flow from that. But if we do religious things just to get attention or just to feel good about ourselves or just to get God to give us what we want, then all those good things we do are worthless because the main thing is to do all that we do for love, not for what we can get from it. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
Let me finish by giving us all some good news. Here it is: God never forgets to keep the main thing the main thing. And what is the main thing to God? You. You are the main thing. God never gets distracted by your skin color, your language or culture, your sexual orientation, the size of your bank account or how many degrees you have, what you own or don’t own, your political party or even your religion. God does not really care about any of those things. Whether you come to church every day, every week or just once in a while, all God wants to do is love you and for you to love him back. That is the main thing for God. Never forget that.
So, my brothers and sisters, Jesus reminds us in our Gospel today and again and again throughout our lives: the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
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