Homily on Walk the Talk

Walk the Talk

Reflection on “Walk the Talk” based on the Gospel of Matthew 23:1-12 (31st Sunday in Ordinary Time)

Children love Halloween because they like to pretend. Putting on a mask and pretending is perfectly acceptable for a child; but putting on a mask and pretending is not acceptable for a follower of Jesus Christ. God is not satisfied with people pretending that they are great followers of Christ. We are not called to appear to be a holy people. We are called to really be a holy people… to take off our mask and let the glory of God and His light shine forth through us so that we can be like the Saints we are called to be…. Fittingly enough that we celebrated the Feast of All Saints the day after Halloween.
In the gospel Jesus gives the example of the Pharisees. He says they wear all the holy costumes; these Pharisees went to all the important banquets so that everyone else could see them; but, they were just putting on a show. They knew how to hold their arms up in prayer. They said the proper pious platitudes. They pretended to be holy, but they were not holy.
Matthew 23:27 – Jesus addressed them: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.
Jesus said: “Do whatever they teach you and follow it; respect their position – but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they teach (vv 2-3).”
My brothers and sisters in Christ, if God were to look at you and me – Would He see religious people wearing a nice pious costume and saying all the proper things, but living an immoral life? Would He see a mother or a father, who quickly proclaims being a Christian, but in reality is really someone who is not open to God in his or her life.
It is important to say the right things, but it is equally important to do the right things. It does little good for a parent to teach a child to be truthful if the child hears the parent tell a lie. It is useless to teach a child work ethics if the parent is lazy. It is useless to teach the kids faithfulness to the Church if the parent does not go to Mass. All of us must keep in mind: “People – especially the kids – would rather see a good sermon than hear one!”

As one teenager, who got in trouble, told his father who was giving him a “sermon”: “What you are speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you are saying.” I hope and pray that you can hear what I am saying.

Personally – What I really find helpful for me – in trying to be true to what I am called to be is when my two sons and my wife are in the pews when I preach or give homilies… Reminding me that even if I could say all the nice eloquent words in the pulpit, what matters is if my family can see consistency in me in what say when I preach and what they experience with me at home… when I am with them in private…– no duplicity –
– So my wife will not roll her eyes…while I am giving the homily.
Just imagine what would they be thinking or feeling if I say all these nice words up here but if my wife and my two sons know that I am really a horrible person at home, but only dressed in deacons costume when I up here… just trick or treating…if I am not walking the talk. They remind me to be consistent.
The Gospel tells us to fight against our own hypocrisy. How can we do this? For one, we cannot demand more from others than we demand from ourselves. I cannot preach or demand that others fulfill their worship obligations if I do not fulfill mine.
All of us have people looking up to us. People look up to us as role models or for guidance.
I cannot demand that others fight against immorality if I live an immoral life. You cannot demand that others be kind and caring, if you are mean to your in-laws you’ve never liked from the start. If you are young, you cannot claim to be a Christian if you are nasty or disrespectful to other people especially the elders. For young students, you cannot claim to be a Christian if you join those kids who bully or hurt other kids in your class. You cannot demand that others be good Christians if you destroy people’s reputations by gossiping. You cannot tell people to forgive if you yourself do not forgive the person who has hurt you.
How else can we avoid being hypocrite? – By taking responsibility for our own lives rather than entrusting our lives to others.
As we heard on the Gospel, “Call no man “father” or “rabbi” or “teacher”” which means do not call anyone your master or guru, because if we have a master or guru, then we tend to NOT take responsibility for what we do because we can say that we are just following what we were told to do.
We call our priests “father” in that they are to be the head of our faith family in our parishes, but we should not give them the responsibility for our lives.
We cannot be content with saying we are a follower of this or that person, be it a priest or a great inspirational or motivational speaker or whomever and let that person determine our lives. We have the ability to set the course of our own lives. We must take responsibility for our own faith lives. We cannot have a second-hand faith. We must have our own personal relationship and encounter with the living Jesus.
We need to have our own belief and our own personal knowledge and intimate personal relationship with Christ… NO longer second-hand believer.
One time I was watching EWTN show entitled Journey Home and it was about a protestant pastor who converted to Catholicism. The former protestant pastor said that his conversion to Catholic faith was out of obedience to Christ and not because someone convinced him.
Christ must be our guide in every aspect of our lives and if our lives reflect the presence of Jesus in the world, then we would really and truly be followers of Christ… actually, more than just followers… but we would really be other Christs in the world.
May the grace of Christ, whom we receive in the Eucharist, give us the ability to live our Christianity…to live the faith we profess…
– Because people are watching….and most important of all, God is watching.

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