YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 25TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: “Jesus said, ‘No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.’” (Luke 16:13)
BY: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
HOMILY: “A little boy, visiting his grandparents on their farm, was given a slingshot to play with, the stipulation being that he use it only in the woods. Though he practiced day by day in the forest, he was never able to hit what he had targeted. Late one afternoon, after another discouraging session in the woods, he headed back home for dinner. On his forlorn trek he happened to spot Grandma’s pet duck. Out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head and killed it. He was shocked and grieved! In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the woodpile, only to discover his sister spying on him. Sally had seen it all.
“After lunch the next day, Grandma said, ‘Sally, let’s wash the dishes.’ But Sally said, ‘Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen.’ Then she whispered to her brother, ‘Remember the duck?’ So Johnny did the dishes. Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing, and Grandma said, ‘I’m sorry, but I need Sally to help make supper.’ Sally just smiled and said, ‘Well, Johnny told me he wanted to help.’ She whispered to him again, ‘Remember the duck?’ So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed home.
“After several days of enduring his sister’s blackmail, Johnny just couldn’t stand it any longer. Ashamedly he approached Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck. Grandma knelt down, gave him a tight hug and said, ‘Sweetheart, I know. I was standing at the window, and I saw the whole thing, but because I love you, I forgive you. I was just wondering how long you’d let Sally make a slave of you.’” (Original source unknown)
I imagine every one of us can identify with little Johnny the duck slayer. I expect we’ve all had to live with the remorse and guilt that can accompany a compulsive action. I’d bet we’ve all known his painful experience of being conscience-torn. And who hasn’t had someone like Sally, the potential snitching sister, who further adds to the pain? Surely, this is a story familiar to most of us; however, it’s frequently only in fiction (or in heaven) that a Grandma as loving and understanding as Johnny’s and Sally’s comes along.
In the gospel passage we hear today, Jesus speaks to his disciples about the experience of being torn, of the human dilemma of feeling the pull both of what’s truly good and what’s only apparently good. “Jesus said, ‘No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.’” (Luke 16:13) Now, oftentimes in our decision-making it’s obvious what we ought to do. But there are also those times when we’re lost in the fog, wanting to do what’s right but not knowing what it is. Indeed, we want to heed Jesus’ admonition to serve the greater good, but knowing what it is seems to require the wise counsel of Johnny’s and Sally’s Grandma. And she’s just nowhere to be found.
Indeed, Jesus knows that we sometimes find ourselves torn. He knows how difficult it can be to know what is the right thing to do and then have the courage to do it. And so he invites us to bring that struggle to him in prayer. Famed monk and author Thomas Merton (1915-1968) did just that when he composed a prayer for those in such a struggle:
“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that my desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
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