Homilies for October 2022

For October 2, October 9, October 16, October 23, October 30

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 2, 2022

Readings: Hab 1:2–3; 2:2–4Ps 95:1–2, 6–7, 8–92 Tm 1:6–8, 13–14Lk 17:5–10    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/100222.cfm

Today Habakuk complains:

I cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not intervene. Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?

The greatest violence we face in this country is that in the womb, the destruction of innocent preborn babies. Today is pro-life Sunday across our nation, a day when we can take stock of the threats to human life through abortion and other anti-life forces in the USA and ask ourselves what we can do to stem this violence.

The number of abortions in the US since 1973 is well over 63 million, as reported by the Planned Parenthood Guttmacher Institute, compared to 1.1 million killed in all our wars combined. That is a mind-boggling number. It has been said that if God doesn’t punish our generation, he owes Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.

The US Bishops have taught: “The threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives it destroys.”

We are called to get involved. An anonymous author wrote, “It all seemed so wrong. I said to myself, ‘somebody ought to do something about this!’ Then I realized that I am somebody.”

A fourth grader wrote a hypothetical letter from an aborted child:

Dear Christians, I was so excited about coming into the world. I thought about all the things I would do, like playing with toys, riding a bike, going to the zoo. I wanted to see movies, go to school, make friends, and go to the park. I wanted to celebrate Christmas and receive Jesus in Holy Communion. I looked forward to listening to music, dancing, swimming, playing soccer, and having dolls. I am very sad that I never got to do all these things. My mother did not let me be born. I just don’t understand one thing. Why didn’t any of you help me? I wish you had. No one heard my crying voice.

Some priests fear preaching about abortion. One woman wrote to Fr. Frank Pavone after he spoke at a church: “Father, I had an abortion, and sometimes it hurts to hear about it, but please keep up the preaching! I gladly endure whatever pain I have, because I know the homilies will keep some other woman from ever going through what I have gone through from the abortion itself.”

So what can you or I do? Contribute to pro-life groups. One of the most courageous of these is Students for Life. They go into colleges and stand fearlessly against students who revile them for their pro-life efforts. The Gabriel project is another group that serves women considering abortion and helps them find resources to have their baby. Catholics United for Life is another wonderful ministry which provides all sorts of pro-life literature. Forty Days for Life is another group that goes to pray outside abortuaries and has saved thousands of lives.

Another ministry, Project Rachel, reaches out to women who have had an abortion and who need the kindness and healing that the Church provides for those who have made such a serious mistake in the past. Jesus told St. Faustina he was extremely anxious to provide his limitless mercy to anyone who would like to receive it.

These and other ministries can easily be found by entering their names on an internet search engine. They could be listed on a parish website or Facebook page.

Edmund Burke wrote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” We should heed the words of Jesus in today’s Gospel: “When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done [only] what we were obliged to do.’“

John Paul II wrote in his Letter to Families in 1994:

 “Come, O blessed of my Father . . . For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was naked and you clothed me” (Mt. 25:34–63). This list of course could be lengthened, and countless other problems relevant to married and family life could be added. There we might find statements like: “I was an unborn child, and you welcomed me by letting me be born.”

May we be “O blessed of the Father” for our stand for life!

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 9, 2022

Readings: 2 Kgs 5:14–17Ps 98:1, 2–3, 3–42 Tm 2:8–13Lk 17:11–19    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/100922.cfm

The story is told of a man rushing to make a meeting. Upon his arrival he was unable to find a parking space. He prayed to God, “Lord, if you find me a parking space I will pray the rosary every day.” Still he found no parking space. So, he upped the ante: “Lord, if you find me a parking space I will give up drinking as well.” Immediately a car pulled out in front of him and he pulled in. He looked up and said, “Never mind, Lord. I found one myself.”

Do we do that sometimes? Do we forget we prayed for something and then when we get it, we fail to thank God?

Some years ago Fr. William Byron, former president of Catholic University, gave a talk in which he stated that the sense of entitlement is a distinctive trait among students today. He said,

. . . it is a good idea to note a rising sense of entitlement in America, especially among the young. And I would suggest that ingratitude is the infrastructure of entitlement.

Think about that — ingratitude is the infrastructure of entitlement, and entitlement is our cultural condition of thinking we deserve everything we have. Entitlement prompts us to make demands, not to give thanks.

And gratitude has been shown to improve our psychological condition dramatically. The effects of gratitude were observed in study by Robert A. Emmons, PhD at the University of California at Davis and Mike McCullough at the University of Miami. Three groups were chosen randomly. One group was to record five things were grateful for in the previous week. The second group was to write five negative things they experienced in the previous week. The third was to write about anything good or bad. After 10 weeks the gratitude group reported being 25% happier than the negative group, and their health condition was better.

Emmons ran another study where people were to write daily about some things they were grateful for. The benefits were even greater than for those who reported their blessings weekly. In addition, the gratitude group offered more emotional support for those in need.

A further study was made with adults with neuromuscular disorders (NMDs). Gratitude writers were able to sleep longer hours and awakened more refreshed. They were better satisfied with their lives, more optimistic, and felt closer to others than the control group that did not write. Another study found that those who were depressed had shown 50% less gratitude than the non-depressed.

In other words, if you thank God for your blessings, you will not only please him but you are much less likely to be depressed. Have you ever thanked God for the good things in your life, the things we tend to take for granted? Here is an example of a prayer of thanks where one does just that.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for my very existence which You gave me out of the abundance of Your love and which You sustain at every moment. I thank You for my health, which I so often take for granted, for my family which I also take for granted. I thank You for my intellect, by which You enable me to think, and for my will, by which You enable me to love. Thank You for my body, and the food and drink by which You sustain it, and the shelter by which You protect it. Thank You for my soul, and the grace of Your Holy Spirit by which You nourish it.

My every talent comes from You, my every possession, my every moment of time, for which I will be eternally grateful.

Thank You for Blessed Mary who intercedes for me before You. And thank You most of all for Jesus, who has given us new life, new hope, new love by his death and resurrection, and for the Church which brings Him to us each day. What an awesome, generous, loving God You are!

You ask me to worship You at least weekly and to pray to You without ceasing. It is my privilege and my joy to do so in thanksgiving for all You have given me. Amen.

Have you ever thanked God for your food, your shelter, your spouse, your friends, your vehicle, the weather, for God’s mercy, for the pearl of great price, i.e., your faith? Let us remind ourselves often with the psalms, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His love endures forever.”

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 16, 2022

Readings: Ex 17:8–13 • Ps 121:1–2, 3–4, 5–6, 7–8 • 2 Tm 3:14–4:2 • Lk 18:1–8    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/101622.cfm

St. Monica was born in Northern Africa in 332 A.D. She had two sons, Navigius and Augustine, and a daughter, Perpetua. Augustine, the older son, was brilliant, but he was a lazy playboy. In 371 Monica discovered that Augustine, then a student in nearby Carthage (60 miles away), the “sin city” of Africa, had moved in with his girlfriend.

Monica pleaded endlessly to God for her son, fasting, and praying and weeping in church long into the night. She asked a bishop friend, known for his ability to convert1 Manicheans, to speak to her son and argue away his errors. He replied that Augustine was not ready because he was not open to learning the truth. When Monica persisted in asking the bishop to speak to her son, he replied, “Go away now. It is not possible that the son of such tears should be lost.” At age 29 Augustine announced he was going to Rome, to find better-behaved students. Monica offered to go with him, but he snuck off without her.

Augustine did not stay in Rome long. After a year he moved to Milan where he would meet the bishop, St. Ambrose. Monica soon caught up with her son in Milan. Under the influence of St. Ambrose and St. Monica’s prayers, Augustine decided to be baptized a Catholic. He was baptized by St. Ambrose in 387 at the age of 32. Monica died shortly thereafter, happy that her sixteen years of prayers were finally answered.

Augustine went on to become a priest, then a bishop, but most importantly, a saint.

The point is that Monica persevered in prayer for her son for sixteen years and her prayers were richly rewarded. That is Jesus’ message today: “Pray always without becoming weary.” Never give up.

One parishioner prayed for her father for twenty-five years. On his deathbed he finally made his peace with God and received the sacraments.

One young Catholic man in college prayed for relief in a love relationship. At first he prayed that it would work out well. However, he soon realized that he should rather pray that God’s will be done, that the Lord would either end it or have it blossom. God answered that prayer fairly quickly in the negative and the man was later very glad he did. Years later he was ordained a priest. He didn’t win the heart of his girlfriend, but he got something better: a strong prayer life.

Why does Jesus have us pray for what we desire? Because he likes to hear from us. Some people would never get into prayer if they didn’t pray for their needs. One priest met a young man who was one of thirteen children, most of whom attended Mass daily and prayed the daily rosary. He asked the man if he had an explanation for all this faith. The man replied, “When we were young we would all pray for things and our prayers were answered. So we knew prayer works.”

Of course we do not always get what we asked for. This quote from a Confederate soldier explains why not.

“I asked for strength that I might achieve; He made me weak that I might obey. I asked for health that I might do greater things; I was given grace that I might do better things. I asked for riches that I might be happy; I was given poverty that I might be wise. I asked for power that I might have the praise of men; I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God. I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; I was given life that I might enjoy all things. I received nothing that I asked for, all that I hoped for. My prayer was answered, I was most blessed.”

The most important thing is not to get what we pray for, but to learn to pray hard. To have a strong prayer life and attend Mass daily is the greatest thing we could ever hope for. One priest encourages people to pray, “Lord, if you would like me to attend Mass daily, kindly arrange it.” He says many, many people have done that and received a most positive answer.

It is best to pray not just for what you need, but above all for a life so filled with God that we forget what we prayed for.

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 23, 2022

Readings: Sir 35:12–14, 16–18 • Ps 34:2–3, 17–18, 19, 23 • 2 Tm 4:6–8, 16–18 • Lk 18:9–14    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/102322.cfm

In 1841 St. John Vianney got a letter from a fellow priest, Abbé Borjon, age 32 (John was 54 at the time) which began, “Monsieur le Curé, when a man knows as little theology as you he ought never to enter a confessional . . .” He went on to insult John in all sorts of ways. John wrote him back, saying,

How many reasons I have to love you, my dear and honored co-worker. You are the only person who really knows me. Since you are so good and charitable to take an interest in my poor soul, help me to obtain the grace I have asked for so long — that of being replaced in a position I am unworthy to fulfill because of my ignorance — so that I may be able to retire into some corner, there to weep over my poor life . . . How much penance I must do, how may tears to shed!

Borjon got John’s reply, walked to Ars where he “threw himself” at John’s feet to ask forgiveness.

St. John Vianney is a wonderful saint because he had the virtue that every saint had, humility. John was envied by some of his fellow priests because penitents flocked in great numbers to his confessional. In fact, some priests in his diocese circulated a petition accusing Fr. Vianney of “sensationalism, ignorance and showy poverty.” The petition came to him by mistake. He read it, signed it, and sent it on to the next priest.

Fr. Cajetan Mary Da Bergamo wrote in his book Humility of Heart:

“In Paradise there are many Saints who never gave alms on earth: their poverty justified them. There are many Saints who never mortified their bodies by fasting, or wearing hair shirts: their bodily infirmities excused them. There are many Saints too who were not virgins; their vocation was otherwise. But in Paradise there is no Saint who was not humble.”

St. Augustine said the three most important virtues for a moral life are 1. humility, 2. humility and 3. humility. He admitted he didn’t get very far understanding the Bible. Of his search for the truth, he later wrote, “I sought with pride what only humility could make me find . . . and I fell to the ground.”

Our blessed Lord told St. Catherine of Siena, “Man proves his humility on a proud man, his faith on an infidel, his justice on the unjust, his kindness on the cruel.” One of the hardest things to do is to be humble in the presence of someone who is proud, as St. John Vianney was when he heard from Abbé Borjon.

David is a key person in Sacred Scripture. Why? He committed adultery, then murder. Why is this sinner so honored? Jesus was proud to be called the son of David. Why? Because of his humility, so beautifully expressed in Psalm 51.

     Have mercy on me, O God,

  according to your steadfast love;

according to your abundant mercy

  blot out my transgressions.

 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,

  and cleanse me from my sin . . .


My sacrifice, O God, is a contrite spirit;

  a contrite, humbled heart, O God, you will not scorn.

St. John of the Cross wrote, “All the visions, revelations and feelings from heaven, or whatever else one may desire to think upon, are not worth as much as the least act of humility.”

One day St. Margaret of Cortona saw in heaven a throne that was so splendid that she was unable to comprehend, much less to describe, its magnificence. It was revealed to her that this throne had belonged to Lucifer, the proud angel. But now she saw on it the humble Francis of Assisi in glory.

Cardinal Merry del Val is said to have written a litany for humility. This is a slightly altered and shortened version of that prayer:

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto thine. From the desire to be esteemed, Deliver me. From the desire to be honored deliver me. From the desire to be praised deliver me.
Teach me to accept humiliation, contempt, rebukes, being slandered, being ignored, being insulted, being wronged, and being belittled.

Jesus, grant me the grace…

that others be admired more than I;

that others be praised and I unnoticed;
that others be preferred to me in everything;
that others be holier than I, provided I become as holy as I should;

that I might imitate the patience and obedience of Your mother, Mary. Amen.

Humility: don’t leave home without it.

31st Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 30, 2022

Readings: Wis 11:22–12:2Ps 145:1–2, 8-9, 10–11, 13, 142 Thes 1:11–2:2Lk 19:1–10  bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/103022.cfm

As a tax collector, Zacchaeus likely lived a life of sin, charging people more than they owed and living a life of luxury. He was not just a tax collector, but a “chief” tax collector, and a “wealthy man.” Seeing that Jesus chose to stay at his house might tempt people to fall into presumption, and think that he was making light of Zacchaeus’ sins. Not so. Zacchaeus was moved by the very closeness of Jesus to want to change his life and reform.

Today, we find many falling into presumption, making light of sins. How many solidly Catholic parents are deeply saddened when their son or daughter announces that they are moving in with their fiancé/fiancée. We’ve lost a sense of sin, how serious it is, and at the same time how merciful God is. As a priest, I have the obligation to make clear the horror of sin AND the mercy of God.

The mother of St. Louis IX used to say to him, “I love you as much as a mother can love her child, but I would rather see you dead at my feet than have you commit a mortal sin.” This was a woman who understood the great evil of mortal sin.

St. Catherine of Genoa wrote:

When I had the vision in which I saw how much the shadow of the smallest act against God matters, I do not know why I did not die. I do not wonder that hell is so horrible, seeing that it is made for sin. But, horrible as it is . . . I think . . . that even there God shows mercy, so terrible does even the shadow of a venial sin seem to me.

St. Francis of Assisi said: “Had I committed but one little sin I would have ample reason to repent of it for the rest of my life.” Cardinal Newman wrote:

The Church holds it better for sun and moon to drop from Heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in the most extreme agony . . . than that one soul . . . should commit one single venial sin, should tell one willful untruth or should steal one poor farthing . . .

What is so terrible about sin? Why the fuss? Because we are called to an intimate life of love with God, in a kind of marriage (Ez. 16; Is. 52, Hos. 1–3). If we are to be in this marriage, we must be holy, and every act that brings us away from that goal is a terrible tragedy.

Happily, despite the great evil of sin, we have a merciful God. God told St. Maria Faustina that mercy was his greatest attribute.

Perhaps one of the greatest examples of God’s mercy is the life of St. Margaret of Cortona. Born in 1247 in Laviano, Italy, Margaret was just seven when her devout mother died. She never received the love she craved from her father, so she sought it from the boys in her town. As she was strikingly beautiful, the boys gave her constant attention, and to keep it she gave in to their lustful desires. At age 18 she accepted an invitation to live with a nobleman in his castle.

After Margaret had lived with him nine years and borne him a son, the nobleman was killed and she realized she had to change her life of sin. She went to Cortona with her son and found a kind priest to help her reform. She prayed long hours, attended Mass daily and did all sorts of penances. She lived a holy life in Cortona until she died at age 50. Almost immediately miracles began to occur at her grave, including the raising to life of twelve dead persons. She was canonized in 1728.

What an awesome, merciful God it is who can raise us from the depths of sin to the heights of holiness as he raised Margaret and others such as St. Augustine and St. Mary Magdalene. No one is beyond God’s endless mercy.

How tragic the person who presumes on God’s mercy when they sin. The Lord told St. Catherine of Siena:

God does not give his mercy so that men may offend in the hope of it, but in order that they may defend themselves with it from the malice of the devil, and from the disordinate confusion of mind.

Without sincere repentance and conversion we cannot receive God’s mercy. With that repentance we will be showered with his mercy no matter what sins we have committed.

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His mercy endures forever.”

  1. To convert someone here means to convince someone to accept another faith.
Rev. Thomas G. Morrow About Rev. Thomas G. Morrow

Reverend Thomas G. Morrow has a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family. Fr. Morrow is a priest of the Washington (DC) Archdiocese. He is the author of several books, including Be Holy: A Catholic's Guide to the Spiritual Life. His website is: www.cfalive.org.