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Monthly Archives: September 2020

Homily for the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 27, 2020

Fr. Joseph Jacobi



In Matthew’s Gospel, we have now arrived with Jesus in Jerusalem. It is the last week of his life, and he will spend it teaching in the temple area, desiring until his very last breath to call sinners back home to God.

He has just cleansed the Temple of the moneychangers and those buying and selling animals for sacrifice, infuriating the religious leaders who depend on this exchange. Immediately preceding today’s passage in Matthew, the religious leaders have challenged Jesus to state upon whose authority he acts in such a way. There will be other confrontations in the Sundays to come as they try to trap Jesus on whether to pay taxes to Caesar or not and about what is the greatest commandment.

But for today, and for the following two Sundays, Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel will lay out three parables directed at these religious leaders, challenging them to a change of mind and heart, inviting them to conversion: Today the Parable of the 2 Sons, next Sunday the Parable of the Tenants and then the Parable of the Wedding Feast.

These arrogant chief priests, elders, scribes, and Pharisees have closed their minds and hearts to Jesus and led the people of Israel astray. They are blinded by their absolute certitude that they alone know God’s way and God’s will. These religious leaders reveal the human tendency toward self-righteousness, thinking they are better than others because they know better. Their minds are made up, they are refuse to be taught by Jesus,

But Jesus, even in these last days of his life, has not given up hope in these religious leaders nor a desire for their conversion. By his use of parables, Jesus is not trying to win an argument with them but rather trying to win over their hearts for God.

But lest we be tempted to think these parables have nothing to say to us, tempted to think that we are not like the self-righteous religious leaders, we are invited to think again. We are invited to conversion. This parable today of the 2 sons is meant to trouble our conscience.

What we are always invited to do by Jesus is to repent, which literally means to change our minds, so that our hearts might be changed and we might act in accord with God’s will. This ongoing process of conversion, this daily emptying ourselves of selfishness and vainglory, lasts until the day we die.

What Jesus is seeking from everyone he encounters is conversion of heart. For Jesus sees in each person both the need and the possibility to change for the better. This parable of the 2 Sons is all about doing the will of our Heavenly Father, and all of us, if we are honest with ourselves, will admit our failures to act on what our Father asks.

Those outside the Church, those who are not here today, are more likely to see their need for God’s mercy and for forgiveness and the need to change their lives. The temptation for those of us who are here, especially since there is a part of us which feels like we have earned a special privilege from God by risking being at Mass during a pandemic, is toward self-righteousness, is to judge others and think we are better than all those “sinners” out there.

But only converted sinners enter the Kingdom of God. Only those who are humble enough to see their own sins clearly, instead of looking for the sins of other, can do fruitful work in the vineyard of God’s Kingdom.

The central concern of Christ Jesus and of his followers—of Christians— is how the human will made rebellious by sin and turned in on itself can gradually open up, turn outward, and finally converge with he life-giving will of God.

For there is a bit of both sons in each of us. Our instinct is either to say “NO” to invitations extended by God or by life or to mumble a half-hearted “YES” which we do not intend to live out.

We have all said “NO” to what God the Father asks of us through His Son. We’ve said NO to many requests from others and then had second thoughts or regrets and changed our mind. We have all said a half-hearted “YES” to our Father, and then refused to do the work He asks us to do to bring about His Kingdom.

We have all said “YES” to do things big and small with the best of intentions, and then not followed through. We do this all the time in our daily life, saying Yes before reflecting on what we are saying Yes to, perhaps because of an unhealthy desire to please and be approved.

Sinners, one and all, hesitating perpetually between Yes and No, have only one option: to listen to the voice of Jesus and allow the power and truth of his words to burn through all the layers of our delusions until the core of our utter neediness is revealed to us. Without the help of the Lord Jesus, it is practically impossible to say “YES” to the will of his Father.

This parable reveals that God is interested not so much in our initial response but rather in what we will do with our freedom in the long run. For only God has the patience to wait throughout a lifetime for all of our instinctual “No’s” to become one eternal YES to His love.

Like the landowner in last Sunday’s parable who kept going out throughout the day in search of workers for his vineyard, so our Heavenly Father continues to go out to us, asking us over and over again to work in His vineyard today.

Thus we are invited daily to a change of heart and a conversion to the Father’s will. God wants more than lip service— the Father wants us to do His will in the practice of our life. What ultimately counts are not the promises we make, but the actions we take.


Maximum Bidding- Oktoberfest

Is 11:00PM too late to stay awake and bid?  We have a solution.  If you see an item you would love to win and know the max amount you would be willing to pay, the bidding system will let you set a maximum bid amount.  Click the blue “Bid More” button, scroll through the different dollar values until you see the max amount you are willing to spend, click on that amount and then click on the red “Set Max Bid” button.  If you have any questions or need assistance using this feature, please email your name and number to oktoberfest@hsccmustang.org

Select “Bid More” on the package you’d like to set a maximum bid.
Scroll to set a maximum bid amount and select “Set Max Bid.”

Oktoberfest Drive Thru Meal Pickup

For those who have meals to pick up for our virtual Oktoberfest, please see the map below for how the drive thru will be directed. Please enter by the “old main entrance” and there will be folks to direct you.

Numbers on the map:

  1. Check-in
  2. Games
  3. Meal Pick Up
  4. Sponsorship Meal Pick Up.

Oktoberfest 2020 Drive Thru Map

Homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 20, 2020

Fr. Joseph Jacobi



In last Sunday’s Gospel we were invited with Peter to think as God does about forgiveness. Instead of thinking as humans do about forgiveness, that there is only a limited amount of forgiveness to share, we were invited to learn about the limitless forgiveness offered us by God through his Son. The wages paid by Christ Jesus by the shedding of his blood for us is a debt we can never repay, but a gift of unending forgiveness we can only receive and then give away.

This Sunday we are invited deeper into the mystery of God, and learn once again that God’s ways are not our ways, nor are God’s thoughts like our own.

Our limited sense of justice, our human ways of competing and comparing, are all challenged by the parable of the generous landowner.

In this parable, as in all the parables of Jesus, he is shaking up our human held assumptions in order to draw us into the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is different from the human kingdoms of this world. It is not a place, but rather a way of thinking and loving as the King of Kings does. The Kingdom of God is living with the King and as his servants, imitating his justice.

The parable invites us to shift our focus from what I have done to what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. We are challenged to “grow up” – to stop crying out “not fair”—and to instead rejoice in the generosity of God who gives us the best gift of all – His Son.

The cry of the first workers upon seeing the ones who worked only a short while and are paid the same is the first: “You have made them equal to us.” This is the way human minds think that are not transformed into the mind of Christ. Thinking that I am better than others, that I am more deserving, because I earned it by what I have done.

This focus on the self—what I have done—is the danger of individualism in our culture. When the focus is inward – on me—we have taken our eyes off the source of life, the one who owns not only the vineyard but to whom everything belongs.

What is ironic about the childish cry, “You have made them equal to us” is that out of love for humankind, God made himself equal to us. The one who was equal to God, the 2nd person of the Divine Trinity, emptied himself of all divine privilege to become one of us. The God who Jesus reveals is not a God who is fair, but a God who is generous. Who keeps inviting us into the vineyard, who loves each of us equally, with a love that cannot be measured or even quantified.

The Gospel can never be equated with the “American Dream.” Nowhere does Jesus teach that hard work is the way to live in his kingdom. Pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps and making a fortune out of blood, sweat, and tears is not the Gospel message at all.

In fact, life in the Kingdom of God is not able to be earned, it is never deserved, it is pure gift by the generosity of God. When we shift the focus from what we as individuals have done to what God has done in Christ and what God continues to do through the power of the Spirit, we are able to work joyfully in the vineyard of the Kingdom

Then there is another way that we humans think which is nothing like the thoughts of God. We look at what others have been given and we want what they have, not able to be grateful for all that we have been given.

The question of the landowner at the end of the parable zeroes in on the danger of envy. “Are you envious because I am generous?” A more literal translation would be: “Is your eye evil because I am good?”

The deadly sin of envy – looking at what others have and wanting THAT instead of being grateful for all we have been given— causes our view of God to be distorted. Comparison and competition, which are so encouraged in the Kingdom of America, further heighten this sin of envy.

We think there is a scarcity of everything, so we compete for the little there is. We think that winning is everything, so we compete to be better than others. We think there is not enough happiness to go around, so we feel diminished when someone else, who did not work as hard as we did, is blessed.

Comparing, competing, seeking to be first – all of this causes us to focus on others. When we shift our focus to the God revealed to us by Jesus Christ, we think and live in a new way. We are free to be last and the servant of all, because that is the way to true joy. We feel no need to enter the frenzy of competing for the stuff of this world, because we know there is more than enough to go around. We enter deeper and deeper into an attitude of gratitude for simply being given the privilege to work in the vineyard of the Kingdom of God.

This parable challenges you and me on so many levels. We are invited to put on the mind of Christ, to think as God does. When we do, we see clearly that looking out only for me and my interests and the interests of my own group has nothing to do with the Kingdom of God.

Rather, the Lord of the Vineyard seeks us out today to invite us yet again into service in his kingdom, where separateness and being number one and winning is not the goal. Rather, unity is the goal – unity with the Lord and communion with others who are working in the vineyard. Together working for the common good, so that every single person may know their dignity as equals in the Kingdom, every single one made in the image of a Generous and Merciful God.


Homily for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 13, 2020

Fr. Joseph Jacobi



In chapter 18 of his Gospel, Matthew the Evangelist lays out what the Church is to be about. Members of the community of faith are responsible to each other to maintain the unity which Christ Jesus established. When hurtful words are spoken or hurtful deeds are done, it is not only the offender who bears responsibility for reconciliation but also the one offended.

Last Sunday we in Chapter 18 we heard of a process enacted by the offended party to reconcile with the one who hurt them, to bring them back to full communion. This Sunday that responsibility toward one’s brother or sister who has done wrong is made even more concrete in the act of forgiveness, which is not a one-time gift but an ongoing gift, healing the relationships with one’s brothers and sisters in Christ.

The offended party cannot sit back and stew in their hurt and boil in their resentment, but instead offer forgiveness, again and again and again.

The cross marks every Christian. The cross of Christ demands a life of sacrificial love, and forgiveness is one of the major sacrifices offered out of love for the other. Marked by the sign of God’s unbounded love for us in Christ, we do not count or meagerly measure out forgiveness, but joined to Christ Jesus, forgive those who hurt us.

As Catholics we begin and end every prayer with the sign of the cross. We start and we conclude the great prayer of the Mass with this eternal sign of God’s forgiveness of the human race.

The prayers of the Mass reveal to us as the Church, the community of faith coming together in the Lord’s name, what we are to be about. The Church is meant not only to be a community of forgiveness and reconciliation, but to share those gifts with the world. But these gifts first need to be received in order to be shared.

So we begin every celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass by crying out for the gift of the Lord’s mercy. We recognize as we begin this celebration that we hang onto hurt, we nurture anger, and we feed resentment, so we call out, “Lord, have mercy.” Then we enter into the circulation of forgiveness, which flows from the Father through the Son, and by the power of the Spirit into our lives.

We breathe deeply of this breath of new life so to breathe it out onto others who need to know they are forgiven. Otherwise, the virus of “unforgiveness,” which can kill the spirit, infects and sickens our lives. This sickness causes hearts to shrivel up and slowly die, and results from the virus of anger hugged tight to one’s heart, and resentment that then takes root and poisons the soul.

Medical experts during this time of a pandemic advise that the air in enclosed spaces be well circulated, otherwise the aerosol of the coronavirus can hang around in stale air to be inhaled. The fresh, life-giving air of forgiveness causes a healthy circulation, which carries away the deadly aeresols of hatred, resentment, bitterness, and revenge. Forgiveness carries away this poisonous air, so we might breathe more deeply of God’s merciful love and not be infected with the virus of unforgiveness nor infect others.

That’s why the prayer Jesus taught us to pray, the “Our Father,” is prayed at every Mass. We go to the Father of mercy with the words of His Son, crying out, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” As we recognize how God in Christ has given us a gift we cannot repay, forgiving our sins and saving us from eternal death, we can then forgive others.

One translation of the “Our Father” reads, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” Knowing we are forgiven a debt we can never repay, we can, with the Lord’s help, forgive the “debts” of others, releasing them from the hurt they have inflicted upon us.

Only when we forgive can we utter the words of the Our Father without hypocrisy.

We have all heard the adage, “forgive and forget.” But that is not only not possible—we always remember the hurts done to us— it is also not how forgiveness works. Rather, we are to “remember and forgive.” We are to remember who we are and to whom we belong in order to forgive.

Baptism has made us children of the same Father and brother to the same Jesus. By the power of the Spirit poured into our lives at baptism, we are strengthened to live with all people as children of the same Father and siblings to the same Jesus. By baptism, we are the Lord’s, we belong to Him, he has authority over our lives.

We are not directors of our own destiny nor fashioners of our own future. We are not masters of ourselves and our lives, but servants of the Risen Lord who gave his Spirit to us, as he did to the first followers, to share forgiveness. (John 20:23)

When we remember to whom we belong, who has set us free from the crushing burden of sin and death, then we can share, without counting the cost, the gift of forgiveness. Since we are the Lord’s, we do as he does and love as he loves, because he lives and loves through us by the gift of His Spirit.

Otherwise, when we forget who we are and to whom we belong, we allow the hurts done unto us to define our lives. We live our days as the “victim”, forever imprisoned in the past. Forgiveness gifts us with a future full of hope and a present packed with possibilities.

The paradox of faith is that if we want to keep what we have been given, we have to give it away.

If we want to be enlivened daily by the Lord’s forgiveness, then we have to give that gift of forgiveness away. If we want to have abundant life, then we have to lose our lives through sacrificial love, doing what we ought for the good of the other.

Then we can be sent forth from this miracle of God’s mercy called the Mass to announce the Gospel of the Lord.