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Father Muench Says...

Looking for my place in the Scriptures

September 16, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I am often asked how I develop a homily for Mass. So, I decided to tell you today. Now this is just me. I am absolutely certain that all those who preach at church their own systems. I would never be brave enough to tell others how to speak at Mass, but I do want to give you an idea of how I do it.

I always start with the Sacred Scriptures. Each day of the Church year, there are certain Scriptures that have been chosen for that day’s Mass. I like to believe that God has something to do with that day’s Scriptures. In faith, we believe that at each Mass, we are fed by the Lord with the Holy Eucharist, but we believe we are also fed by the Lord with the Word of God.

There are many occasions for which there are no specific Scripture readings assigned, so I can carefully decide which Scriptures I believe are perfect for what I would like to highlight on that occasion. In addition, for various reasons, people – lay men and women involved in the occasion – help me to choose the Scripture readings.

First, I like to look at the Scriptures and see how I am involved in this story, this reading. You see, I truly believe the Holy Spirit inspires the author of the Scriptures to make the stories open for my place. I am invited to discover my place where I can learn something about myself; I have something to learn today, right now, that will help me make my life better, my world better.

So, on the great feast days of the Church and the ordinary feast days, I also have a place. I am present on that first Christmas, just as I was present with my niece and nephew, with Susan and Paul, at the birth of their second child. I am walking with Jesus on the road to Calvary, and I’m noticing how much Jesus suffered for us all. I am with the apostles on that first Easter, excited and joyful. Even in the stories of the Lord’s parables, I can discover myself. Jesus crafts these clever, powerful stories to help me find myself. He makes the stories so wonderfully in order for me to discover myself.

On a recent Sunday, Jesus tells a parable about each of us being a forgiving people. This also is my story. The story you will remember is about a compassionate master who forgives the entire debt of a servant who owes him a “huge” debt but cannot satisfy it. However, that same servant refuses to forgive another fellow servant who owes him a smaller amount. The lesson is obvious: the lesson of the compassionate Master does not show the servant what it is that can make our world a happier place.

Too many times, I have forgotten how much my God has forgiven me even as I have failed the Lord in my life. God realizes and loves me so much that He wants to give me a new opportunity. God somehow knows that I can do so much to make this world a better place when I realize the gift given to me in his forgiveness. However, I too often fail to realize that I could make the world better by being a forgiving person when I am ready to forgive – even a small amount.

The master in the parable asks for nothing in return – a magnificent moment. I must recognize and demonstrate the compassion of the Lord. Then, I am in Jesus’ story, and Jesus tells me not to forget God’s great love for me.

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