23rd Sunday, Ordinary Time
Cycle “C” – 2019 – “Let Your Light Shine”
A real estate agent was showing a well-dressed dowager through a luxury condo on the beach. “What’s that over there?” she asked, pointing to a field dotted with low mounds.
“A Navy ammunition dump,” replied the agent.
“Do you think any of those mounds contain undetonated land mines?” she asked nervously,
“No doubt there are some,” the agent replied.
“Oh, dear!” sighed the woman. “I did so like this view; but perhaps we’d better look at something on the other side of the building.”
How very human: …… hoping that a few yards’ move will do the work of relocating many blocks!
I’m certain that we’ve all been fascinated by the story of how Manhattan Island was bought from the Indians by Peter Stuyvesant for $29 worth of trinkets and beads. And is there anyone here (tonight/this morning) who hasn’t fantasized about winning millions with a $2 lottery ticket? BUT IN THE REAL WORLD, we KNOW – (or at least we say we know) – that life isn’t bought “on the cheep”! — A life that IS A LIFE worth living, costs a LOT!
NOW, let’s look at Jesus’ MARKETING STRATEGY for discipleship and a place in the Kingdom of God. — St. Luke tells us that great crowds were swelling around Jesus, hanging on his every word. (Every marketer’s dream!) — BUT, what does Jesus tell the crowds who’d gathered to hear him?:
– Unless you hate your mother and father – your wife and children – your brothers and sisters, and even your own life …. You cannot be my disciple.
– Unless you take up your cross and follow me…. You cannot be my disciple.
– Unless you renounce all your worldly possessions…. You cannot be my disciple.
OBVIOUSLY, Madison Avenue DID NOT create Jesus’ ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN!
So WHAT IS Jesus really saying here? (BECAUSE – who, in their right mind, would be sitting in this church [tonight/this morning] if we thought, for a minute, that Jesus meant for us to take him LITERALLY? – that Jesus meant that we must “ACTUALLY HATE our mother and father, wife or husband, children, brothers and sisters, and even our own lives” – in order to become his disciples? — I daresay that IF this was TRULY the CRITERA for following Jesus; then Jesus would have NO FOLLOWERS!
With all this talk about “hate,” Jesus is actually employing a much-loved form of speech among the Rabbi’s of his day! – In order to get his audience’s ATTENTION — (In order to get yours and my) ATTENTION! — Jesus is using HYPERBOLE – which Webster’s Dictionary defines as, “an extravagant, exaggerated form of speech.”
SIMPLY PUT, Jesus is saying, that “the highest and noblest of earthly loves – like the love of a child for his or her parents, and the love of parents for their children; the highest and noblest of earthly loves like the love of a husband for his wife and of a wife for her husband; the highest and noblest of earthly loves – like the love of siblings for one another – or self-love (which God planted in our hearts to insure self-preservation) – or EVEN a teenagers’ love for their BFF (“best friend forever” – just in case you don’t text or tweet) —- ALL of these very holy, and very noble loves – MUST TAKE “A BACK SEAT” TO OUR LOVE-RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD — which is meant to have the HIGHEST PRIORITY in our lives!”
SO NOW THAT I HAVE “HOPEFULLY” set your minds at ease as to Jesus’ requirements for being His disciple…. let me talk for a moment about our CAMPAIGN to LIGHT UP OUR CHURCH!
As you are hopefully aware from my August 26th letter to you; – on NOVEMBER 1, 2019, we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the founding of ALL HALLOWS! — And WHAT MORE APPROPRIATE GIFT CAN WE GIVE THIS CHURCH BUILDING that has sheltered us for the past 3-score years, than to let her LIGHT SHINE BRIGHTLY once again?
Since our church was dedicated to ALL THE SAINTS on November 1, 1961, these four walls have stood silent witness to: 3,153 BAPTISMS; hundreds of FIRST HOLY COMMUNIONS; 2,497 MARRIAGES; and 733 BURIALS! Chances are that one or more of your children was Baptized or Confirmed here; or made his or her First Communion or was Married at this altar; … OR that sadly, a parent, grandparent, spouse, or even a child was buried from this sanctuary. (My own Father’s funeral was celebrated in this church on June 15, 2009.) — Some of the memories we carry in our hearts of our time together in this building are joyful, beyond description; while others are too painful to put into mere words! But through our joys and sorrows; through our laughter and tears we have always known where we could come to pour out our hearts to Jesus, our Risen Lord!
My prayer, as your pastor, is that you will join with me in giving a generous gift as your “THANK YOU” for the ROLE that All Hallows Church has played in your life.
To RECOUNT a few HIGHLIGHTS from my cover letter, “LET YOUR LIGHT SHINE”: most of the original aluminum fixtures are now corroded beyond repair, and no longer provide the exterior lighting for our beautiful stained glass windows OR the night safety for pedestrians, for which they were originally designed! The new, solid brass fixtures (both spots and bollards) will hold up much better in our climate and are dedicated LED which translates into much lower energy consumption. Also, a number of added pathway lights (or bollards), will provide much needed light on the concrete walkways surrounding the church and continuing up the hill to the parking structure!
My hope is that we can begin work on our 60th Anniversary project by the end of this month, and be finished by November 1st (the actual date of our founding)! HOWEVER, I do not want to be like the man in today’s Gospel who laid the foundation for a tower without first calculating the outlay, to see if he had enough money to complete the project! — (And then, as Jesus tells us today) “all who saw it would jeer at him, saying, ‘That man began to build what he could not finish.’”
UNLIKE the foolish builder in this parable, I HAVE CAREFULLY CALCULATED THE COST (after a 3-bid process): – $75,000 which includes a 20% contingency. And I know, from working with you for the past 13 years, that this is both a reasonable and attainable goal!
I hope that you will agree with me that lighting our church is a WORTHWHILE and NECESSARY ENDEAVOR. And I will await your “go-ahead” to begin this work, in the form of: cash, a check, a credit card gift, OR a solid, extended payment pledge!
Thank you for your attention and consideration; and be assured of my prayers for you and your intentions as I join Bishop McElroy and Bishop Dolan in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, beginning on Monday.
God bless you!