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July 27th 2008 - Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Catholic Homilies

July 27th 2008

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 13:44-52 or 13:44-46

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Background:

  The cycle of gospel stories continues to report the signs and wonders that Jesus worked on either side of the Sea of Galilee, today the stunning miracle of the loaves and fishes which, in St. John’s Gospel towards the end of the first century has strong Eucharistic overtones. Somehow Jesus managed to feed thousands with five loaves of bread and two fishes, a phenomenon which many in the crowd misunderstood so completely that they wanted to mobilize and army and march on Jerusalem. The point of today’s Gospel is less that Jesus fed five thousand but that the notion of a political messiah was so strong in Jewish culture that it blinded people to what he had accomplished. This error continues in our own time among those people who use religion to advance a political agenda.

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  Once upon a time there was a good Catholic layman who wanted to run for political office so that he could clean up politics and eliminate political corruption. He had some money of his own and some affluent friends so he was able to organize a campaign. He refused the help of all the politicians. He denounced waste and graft. He promised to cut the budgets of all his departments and get rid of the loafers and the time servers. He denounced special interest groups and rejected all endorsements from activists. He was, he argued, an honest and upright man, he deserved to hold public office and once he was elected no politically ambitious men and women would serve in his administration. As a good Catholic we would clean up all the messes. He did not pretend to understand such matters as budget and taxes. A man with integrity and virtue would solve those problems by cutting both across the board. He became bitterly angry at the media folks when they asked him whether he was not exploiting religion because he had no political skills. A religious man, he snapped, doesn’t need political skills. He was buried in the primary. “The public does not want virtuous politicians,” he protested in his last public statement. All they want is weak-kneed compromisers. Politics should be about virtue, not compromise.”

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A man with integrity and virtue would solve those problems by cutting both across the board. He became bitterly angry at the media folks when they asked him whether he was not exploiting religion because he had no political skills. A religious man, he snapped, doesn’t need political skills. He was buried in the primary. “The public does not want virtuous politicians,” he protested in his last public statement. All they want is weak-kneed compromisers. Politics should be about virtue, not compromise
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