Bottom line: We look back with gratitude and we look forward with trust. That's the key to reaching our goal.
I will give this homily in English, but begin with a Spanish summary of the main point:
En el evangelio Jesus mira atras y adelante. Es un buen evangelio para nuestra misa bilingue anual. Miramos atras con gratitud y adelante con confianza. Es la clave para alcanzar nuestra meta:"correr con perseverancia la carrera...fija la miranda en Jesus".
We have a good Gospel as we gather for our annual bilingual Mass and parish picnic. The Gospel both looks back and looks forward.
Jesus speaks about how he wants to "set the earth on fire" and about the "baptism with which I must be baptized". This looks back to when John baptized Jesus and spoke about the "baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire". The Gospel also looks forward to Pentecost when Jesus will send tongues of fire on the Apostles. With that fire they baptized some three thousand people. (Acts 2:41)
So baptism and fire - good themes as we celebrate an all-parish Mass and enjoy a picnic. These themes that we see in today's Gospel help us look back and look forward.
I am now in my 11th year as your pastor, your spiritual father. We have a lot of memories. Some of my favorite center on baptism: those wonderful young families who bring their children for the sacrament - and the adults who after a time of preparation, take the step of baptism, confirmation and Eucharist. Some are obviously on fire with their faith in Jesus. Others seem more like embers that need some gentle tending.
We live in a world that wants to scatter those embers of faith, even to douse them. That's why it's good to come together in an event like this. If you pull an ember out of a fire it dies quickly but if you bring it back, it will burst into flame. Then it gives off warmth and light. Jesus can use that person to set fire on the earth.
So today we do come together. We look back in gratitude. Sure we've had moments of pain and stress. In them all Jesus has something for us. We are grateful we belong to Jesus and to each other.
And we look forward. People have asked me how long I will be at St. Mary of the Valley. I say the Lord has given me ten good years here. I'm praying for another decade - or two!
Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Only God. Jesus had a baptism with which he would be baptized. He's referring to his cross, his passion. You and I also face the cross. We can run, but we can't hide. Whatever comes we know Jesus has gone before us.
So today we look back with gratitude and we look forward with trust. That's the key to reaching our goal: gratitude and trust. With them we can do what our reading from Hebrews says, "persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus."
Youth Challenge Week 1 (Audio version of homily for 20th Sunday, Cycle C - 2016)
From Archives (Homilies for Eighteenth Sunday, Year C):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru