Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily 7-7-22

Homily for the 14th Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 7-7-22, Year C
Readings: Hos 11:1-4, 8c-9; Ps 80:2ac, 3b, 15-16; Gospel Mt 10:7-15?
Theme: Freely You Have Received, so Freely You Shall Give

Have you ever received an advertisement about a person coming to your area to spread an inspirational message they received about God, Jesus, the saints, or a personal revelation? They speak of how this message will provide a wealth of information, healing remedies, and prayers that bring us closer to God and Jesus. You sign up for the event hoping to gain some new insight and be inspired.

When you finally get to the event, you discover that there is a door fee to get in. You pay the fee and take your seat. The speaker comes out and delivers an impassioned talk on the subject with constant reminders to buy their book and merchandise, which of course, is available in the back. They claim God gave them a mission to bring this message to all people so they can share in its inspiration and profit from a new understanding.

Finally, near the end, the speaker spends the last 15 minutes talking about donations, their book, merchandise for sale, etc., etc. You find out later, in talking with the event organizer, that the speaker required quite a bit of preparation and organizing. The speaker required that the sponsor pay for their airfare, be picked up from the airport, have a nice hotel reserved, provide meals and transportation to and from the event or demand a rental car be provided. All of this is on top of their original speaking fee. This is all fine if the revenue goes toward modest costs or is donated to their cause and not to their own wealth. But sometimes the only one profiting from the message is the speaker.

You walk out of the event contemplating the good message you received but disheartened by the expense and profiting taking place based on that message or inspiration they received freely.

Now, I’m not saying that there are no expenses and costs that need to be covered trying to deliver a message in today’s world, of course, there are. A laborer deserves his keep and selling a book or some sacramentals for people to use to remember the message is perfectly fine and good. But people who receive an inspired message from God and are driven to spread it abroad, should do so with modesty, not for undo profit. Be wary of people promoting themselves, selling all kinds of goods or services, and requiring exorbitant fees and expenses. They may not be living up to Jesus’s practical points regarding the apostle’s ministry to others. No one should ever be turned away because they cannot afford the ticket to get in.  

When you are inspired by Jesus or God to spread a message, do so with modesty, putting all the focus on the message to be delivered, and do not profit from it. We are just messengers of Christ’s Gospel. We, too, should go forth without fanfare and excessive expenses, and let the people profit from the message instead of ourselves. When you do, know that persecution and difficult times can await you. But, as Hosea says in the first reading, there is hope for all of us, even those who sin in the most egregious ways, because God’s love for us is like a parent’s love for their children, it lasts forever no matter what.

Freely you have received, so freely you shall give.

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL