Sermons

October 8: Twenty-Seventh Sunday

“Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:6-9.

At the dawn of World War II in 1939, the British Ministry of Information created an advertising campaign to help reassure citizens and so created the slogan “Keep Calm & Carry On.” One version had it as: “Keep Calm. Don’t Panic!” This slogan failed.

Today, we have a variety of take-offs such as “Keep Calm & Party On!” And, another “Keep Calm & Have a Cup Cake.”

If there were a Bible version, I would select: “Be Not Afraid!” There are 33 verses scattered around the scripture that reassures God’s presence in our lives.

Today’s second reading from St. Paul begins: “Brothers & Sisters, have no anxiety at all!” Well, close enough for a slogan printed on a tee-shirt.

In the past few days with earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks, and the dreadful gun violence in Las Vegas, these calamities have packed a mighty powerful wave of anxiety and disturbance.

Many of us have held in our prayers the lives of those who have been shattered by these incidents.

Here in Monterey, 24-year-old Austin Meyer is remembered as “ambitious, smart and hardworking.”

He graduated Seaside High School, worked for Main Event Transportation, recently moved to the Reno area for college. Friends on Facebook say that he was a “joy to be around, great smile and could make people laugh.” He was one of the 58 people who died from wounds at last Sunday’s “Route 91 Harvest Music Festival” in Las Vegas.

Christians believe that God is on the job – but, as someone told me recently, it’s more like Monterey on a foggy day — you know the sun is up there somewhere, and hope the sun will break through the clouds and come out with its warm and healing rays.

We believe that God is present in our lives, even when at these times it appears to be very foggy, and we are at a distance from his designs.

So we sense sadness and are at a loss to figure out the causes or reasons.

At such times, the second reading from St. Paul to the Philippians is worth recalling. Paul himself was in prison.

In this dire circumstance of his, he stressed, in one of the most exquisite passages in the New Testament, these ideals:

“Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

Yes, we live in a time of anxiety, and one that makes us feel immobile — as if we can do very little.

St. Paul disagrees, and boldly tells us that we have the power in Jesus Christ to bring healing and hope with our every honorable act, in seeking justice, or embracing the creative, lovely and gracious. These gifts of God given to us are eternal.

He concludes:

“Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

In the most poignant terms, and despite the loss of life and the bloodshed, last Sunday night in Las Vegas we witnessed images of such great acts of heroism and courage.

This month of October, the Church honors saints who have inspired generations of believers.

Last week, I spoke of Saint Francis of Assisi whose feast day we celebrated on Wednesday.

Next Sunday, October 15th is the feast day of Saint Teresa of Avila, a Carmelite nun who lived in Spain in the 16th century.

Teresa, along with our patron, Saint Catherine of Siena, were the first women named Doctors of the Church for their contribution to the spiritual and intellectual life of Christians.

As writers, both left a legacy behind that is vital to us so many years later.

In 1577, Saint Teresa wrote “The Interior Castle,” a spiritual autobiography that tells of her mystical journey to God.

This prayer of hers is among the most enduring and one that is a favorite of mine:

“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you.

All things are passing. God never changes.

Patience obtains all things. Whoever has God lacks nothing.

God alone suffices.”

 

Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.

The Catholic Church in China — A Short Documentary

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