Homily for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B, August 28th/29th, 2021
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
Saint John Chrysostom:
“Do you want to honor Christ’s body? Then do not scorn him in his nakedness, nor honor him here in the church with silken garments while neglecting him outside where he is cold and naked.
Let us learn to honor Christ as he desires. For a person being honored finds greatest pleasure in the honor he desires, not in the honor we think best. Give him the honor prescribed in his law by giving your riches to the poor. For God does not want golden vessels but golden hearts.
Now, in saying this I am not forbidding you to make such gifts; I am only demanding that along with such gifts and before them you give alms.”
Here I, Fr. Hollowell, want to clarify in case it isn’t clear what St. John is saying. He is saying it is okay to fix up your churches nicely, as long as you first take care of the poor. I would like to say that I believe both of our parishes have done things in the proper order. My first priority as pastor has been, at both parishes, to first take care of the poor. We got St. Vincent DePaul Societies started at each parish, who I might add, are doing TREMENDOUS UNFATHOMABLY AWESOME ministry in our communities. We did that first, before ever embarking on any capital campaign or Church restoration. And, quite frankly, I believe our campaigns have been miraculously successful precisely for one reason: we have put the poor first.
Chrysostom ends: “Once again, I am not forbidding you to supply these adornments; but no one has ever been accused for not providing ornaments, but for those who neglect their neighbor a hell awaits with an inextinguishable fire and torment in the company of the demons. Do not, therefore, adorn the church and ignore your afflicted brother, for he is the most precious temple of all.”
I have personally put in my will that whatever is leftover after my funeral will be going to start an endowment to assist the poor of Clay County, as we just used a generous bequest from Gwendoline Long to start a similar endowment for the poor of Putnam County. I have also made $5,000 a year commitment for both Churches’ restoration projects.
In conclusion, to echo St. James and St. John Chrysostom, take care of the poor first, then God will bless all your other endeavors.