HOMILY FOR THE 31ST SUNDAY OF THE YEAR, CYCLE C

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HOMILY FOR THE 31st SUNDAY OF THE YEAR
CYCLE C

GOING OUT ON A LIMB FOR CHRIST

[go out on a limb. verb phrase. To put oneself in a vulnerable position; take a risk : ok, I’ll go out on a limb and vouch for you (1897+) The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.]

The American slang expression “going out on a limb” has been around since the beginning of the 20th Century.  To anyone who as a child, or especially as an adult, has climbed a tree, the meaning is perfectly clear.  Going out on a limb of a tree can be dangerous, even life-threatening.

A hundred years ago, before the invention of electronic games, kids sometimes played outside and even flew kites.  It was not unusual for a kite to get tangled up in a tree and sometimes kids, or even their dads, would climb a tree to rescue a kite or a cat.

Zacchaeus climbed a tree and went out on a limb for something much more important than a kite or a cat.

Zacchaeus climbed a tree and went out on a limb to see Jesus Christ.

Zacchaeus went out on a limb both really and figuratively.

Zacchaeus went out on a limb at great risk to himself not only in terms of the danger of him falling out of the tree but also in terms of what it might cost him socially, politically, financially and even ultimately his life.

Saint Luke tells us that Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector which means that he was  appointed by the Roman Governor to
collect the taxes from the Jewish people for the Roman government.  Getting involved with Jesus opened Zacchaeus up to being accused of associating with a rebel against Rome, as the High Priest would later label Jesus.

Also, Saint Luke tells us that Zacchaeus was a rich man, as one would expect the chief tax collector to be since the Romans allowed him to extort more than the standard tax amount with the excess going into his own pockets.  He risked financial ruin if he were to be removed from his role as chief tax collector.

Why did Zacchaeus go out on a limb to see Jesus Christ.  It was not mere curiosity.  If what he had been hearing about Jesus Christ was true, something inside him told
him that it was worth the risk of going out on a limb to see Jesus Christ.

How about you?
How many times have you gone out on a limb to see Jesus Christ?
What risks have you taken in your life to see Jesus Christ imperfectly now in the hope of seeing him perfectly for all eternity?

It is sobering to compare the relatively comfortable life you live with the risks your brothers and sisters in the Middle East take every day as they walk the razor’s edge of practicing their faith without inviting persecution by their Muslim neighbors.

Risk Management is a modern job category.  In business and industry great emphasis is placed on risk management.
Does the preoccupation with risk management carry over into all aspects of our lives?

In public are we afraid to make the sign of the cross and pray before meals lest people identify us as Catholics.

How much does our faith really cost us in our daily lives.  Do we count the few dollars we put into the collection basket as a true
valuation of what our Catholic faith means to us.

In our society today, as our Nation “slides closer to Sodom and Gomorroh” as predicted by the late Judge Robert Bork,
do we appear sufficiently different from our pagan neighbors or has our hesitancy to risk appearing different doom us to the same fate that awaits them.

Go out on a limb for Jesus Christ!

To encourage you, let me offer you three examples of persons who went out on a limb for Jesus Christ.

The first person is Adrian Vermeule, Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School.  Harvard is a hostile environment for Catholics and yet Professor Vermeule recently became a Catholic convert thereby jeopardizing his career.

He went out on a limb for Jesus Christ because, as he said: “…I eventually couldn’t help but believe that the apostolic succession, through Peter…is in some logical or theological sense prior to everything else – including even Scripture, whose formation was guided and completed by the apostles and their successors, themselves inspired by the Holy Spirit.”

The second person I offer as an example of someone who went out on a limb for Jesus Christ, is Sohrab Amari.

Sohrab Ahmari is an editorial page writer at The Wall Street Journal, based in London, where he writes editorials and commissions and edits op-eds for the Journal’s European edition.
Ahmari was born in Tehran, Iran. As a child, he was interrogated by security officials about his parents and faced disciplinary action for accidentally bringing a videocassette of Star Wars into school at a time when Western films were officially banned in the country.[2] In 1998,[3] at the age of 13, Ahmari moved with his family to the United States.[4]

Ahmari earned a law degree from Northeastern University in Boston.[5] Between college and law school, Ahmari had completed a two-year commitment to teach immigrants in the Rio Grande Valley region of South Texas.[6]

Following the murder of the French priest Jacques Hamel, Ahmari announced on Twitter that he was converting to Roman Catholicism.[10]  His announcement of his conversion on Twitter was an invitation to martyrdom since Muslims consider conversion from Islam to be an unforgiveable sin punishable by death.  Yet, Ahmari went out on a limb for Jesus Christ.

The third example of someone who went out on a limb for Jesus Christ is the example of Father Jacques Hamel who was martyred on July 26  by two Islamic State terrorists as he was celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in his parish in France.  The terrorists interrupted the Mass
and ordered Father Hamel to kneel.  As he knelt he could have begged for mercy from his attackers, but instead he went out on a limb for Christ and said to them:
“Begone, Satan!” before they cut his throat.

Be a courageous Christian, go out on a limb for Jesus Christ!

Be a courageous Christian, go out on a limb for Jesus Christ!

Be a courageous Christian, go out on a limb for Jesus Christ !

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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2 Responses to HOMILY FOR THE 31ST SUNDAY OF THE YEAR, CYCLE C

  1. God grant that I may have the courage to always go out on a limb for Jesus Christ!!!! I hope, when my time comes, that Jesus will come to me and say; Mary, come stay at My House today!

  2. Cecilia says:

    Thank you! Wow! Amen! Hi

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