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Archive for August, 2008

Christianity and Prosperity (Homily Notes for 22nd Sunday – Year A)

Posted by frmac on August 29, 2008

Does Faith bring material blessings and prosperity??? Yes and No. Indirectly, faithful living of the gospel helps us avoid many of the pitfalls of life. If we take illegal drugs, there is a good chance we will become addicted and destroy our own lives and the lives of others around us. If we steal and plunder, there is a good chance that we will end up in jail. If we sell our bodies in prostitution….. (This list of ‘ifs’ could fill pages, but I think you know what I mean.) Living by Christian values helps us to be productive, happy, members of society, and thus indirectly, can lead to blessings and prosperity.

If, however, we think that God will bless us, and we will become prosperous in this world because of the Gospel, then we’ve got the whole message of Christianity and discipleship all wrong. Jesus tell us to take up our Cross and follow him.

In this weeks Gospel (Matthew 16:21-27) Peter is severely chastised by Jesus for trying to stop him from going to Jerusalem. In a way, he is just trying to protect him like a good friend tries to do for a friend. But, Jesus is adamant in the pursuit of his Father’s will, and says to Peter: “Get behind me Satan.” Basically, he is making sure that Peter understands that being a follower of his does not lead directly to blessings and prosperity in this world, but to the cross. Being a disciple, Peter was learning, often comes at great personal cost, even, pain, suffering, and death.

As we celebrate Labor Day in Canada this weekend, let us remember that we are a people who labor in the vineyard to bring the Gospel message to the world.

Quotes for Thought

We know, don’t we, what the church in North America is like. Sadly, the church has become less like a community of disciples and more like a collection of small corporations. The church has too often lost sight of the world to come and become captive to the present age. Churches that preach the cross are losing members like mad, while the churches that preach the self-serving gospel of prosperity and “Your Best Life Now!” are packed.

(Thomas Long, from a sermon entitled, “Making Friends,” in “Journal for Preachers,” Pentecost, 2007, page 55.)

Some Christians think that being religious should improve their spirits, bodily health and even good fortune. I was listening to a very popular televangelist recently. He was preaching to 10,000 people in a stadium-like church. (As a preacher myself, I felt a moment’s envy!) He has a reputation for being a great preacher. He certainly is popular. His message was: if we accept Jesus into our lives, we will receive the good things God is “waiting to give us.” It was clear that the “good things” he referred to were financial and personal success. He kept referring to the “blessings” God has for us and the rewards believers will receive – in this life. No wonder he is such a popular preacher. I felt good after listening to him! Apparently a lot of people who listen to him or similar preachers do too. They seem to believe that faith in Jesus will make life easier. The promises also seem to apply to the believer’s spiritual life, as if to say, once you have accepted Christ you will be happy and have fewer doubts and anxieties. Sounds great!

(Fr. Jude Siciliano, OP – Preacher/Instructor in Homiletics)

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