4 and 5 November 2017 Thirtieth First Sunday Ordinary Time A Homily


4 and 5 November 2017 Thirty First Sunday Ordinary Time A Homily

Malachi 1:14-2:2,89

Psalm 131

First Thessalonians 2:7-9,13

Matthew 23: 1-12


My sisters and brothers in Christ.


“Cree lo que lees,

Ensena lo que crees,

Practica lo que predicas.”


“Believe what you read,

Teach what you believe,

Practice what you preach.”


This past Friday evening I spent a couple of hours in Our Lady’s Cathedral.

The occasion was the Ordination of twenty two men to the order/rank of  deacon. I was there at the invitation of Ray Butler who was in this year’s Deacon Ordination class.

Deacon Duane Fischer and I were asked to assist Ray in his first putting on of the Deacon’s vestments.

My job was to help him put his “stole” over his left shoulder draping it across his chest.

I let Ray show me which shoulder was his left one.  Duane helped Ray put on his “dalmatic” which is a long vestment that goes over the stole.

I was honored to be asked by Ray to take part in this important moment.

I take these rituals and ceremonies seriously.  

However I found it humorous that Ray was a bit taller than me and certainly taller than Deacon Duane.

I suggested to Duane and Ray that the next time Duane helped him vest Duane might use a step ladder.


I am often asked “Do you miss anything about Guatemala?” My standard answer is: “I really enjoyed many aspects of my time in Santiago Atitlan but the religious and Catholic culture relies a great deal on words and rituals”.  

For example, a typical Sunday afternoon mass, with processions, blessings of various groups and translations from Spanish to Tzutuhil could take two hours.  I do not miss two hour liturgies on a weekly basis


Friday evening I, and the Cathedral full of people, listened twenty two times as the Archbishop said to each newly ordained Deacon as he handed him the Book of the Gospels:


“Believe what you read,

Teach what you believe,

Practice what you preach.”


It seems to me that is exactly the message of today’s Scriptures.

The deacons were also instructed to

assist at the altar,

visit the sick and

have a special devotion to the poor.


It seems to me that is also the message of today’s Scriptures.


The prophet Malachi today says:

“O priests, this commandment is for you….lay it to heart…

give glory to the LORD of hosts….(or)  of your blessing I will make a curse….

There is more:

“You have turned aside from the way,

and have caused many to falter by your instruction…”

I remember Bishop Reed  saying to me in a very warm evening in August 1970 as he handed me the Book of the Gospels:


Cree lo que lees,

Ensena lo que crees,

Practica lo que predicas.”



Believe what you read.

Teach what you believe.

Practice what you preach.”


As Archbishop Coakley repeated these words I reflected upon how simple and practical was this instruction, invitation, encouragement or Gospel command.


Jesús in the Gospel today actually complements the scribes and Pharisees.  He recognizes that the scribes and Pharisees teach what Moses taught. Jesús says “to the crowds and his disciples”:

“..do and observe all things whatsoever they (the scribes and Pharisees) tell you, but do not follow their example.”

Jesús identifies the basic problem: “They (the scribes and Pharisees)  preach but do not practice.”

If we listen carefully at every Baptism we will hear these words,

“I anoint you with the Holy Chrism (oil) of salvation,

so that united with Christ’s people

you may remain for ever a member of Christ

who is Priest, Prophet, and King.”

The scribes and Pharisees the elders and chief priests, the priests at the time of Malachi loved the idea of being “king” in terms of having authority and control and telling people what to do.

The community of Matthew, when this Gospel was written, struggled  with what kind of leaders they needed to serve their community.

Each of us leads by our words, actions and attitudes.

Jesús’ has a few final words of advice to the crowds and disciples in today’s Gospel:

“The greatest among you must be your servant.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled;

Whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”

The word “Deacon” comes from the Greek word “diakonia” which means “to serve”.

May we, with our deacons, “lay to heart” the words Archbishop Coakley spoke to the Deacons he had just ordained Friday evening:

“Cree lo que lees,

Ensena lo que crees,

Practica lo que predicas.”


“Believe what you read,

“Teach what you believe,

“Practice what you preach.”




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