Homilies for October 2023

For October 1, October 8, October 15, October 22, and October 29

26th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 1, 2023

Readings: Ez 18:25–28Ps 25:4–5, 6–7, 8–9Phil 2:1–11Mt 21:28–32   bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/100123.cfm

In today’s Gospel, the Lord severely scolds some of the chief priests and elders of the people. On the outside many of them looked righteous and holy, but as we know from many passages in the Gospels, the Lord is never fooled by a person who looks holy yet is full of filth on the inside. The Lord is never fooled because His Divine gaze pierces deeply into the hearts of those in front of Him — then and now. He knew those to whom He spoke and He knows each and every one of us. In fact, the Lord knows us even better than we know ourselves.

The Lord gives the chief priests and elders a pretty easy situation to evaluate. He describes two sons and asks which of them is an example of true obedience. The first son says “no” when asked to do something but then goes ahead and does what he is asked to do. The second son says “yes,” but never delivers on the promise. When asked which one did the father’s will, the chief priests and the elders respond correctly. They have the knowledge to discern the situation Jesus asked them to think about. Despite their ability to recognize the truth, they are unable to see the truth of their own lives. They are unable to discern that they themselves have been living like the second son.

Tax collectors and prostitutes may have said “no” to God at first, but after hearing the preaching of John the Baptist, they repented. Though they lived gravely sinful lives, they recognized their sin, humbled themselves, and begged for mercy. When they turn to the Lord in this way, God welcomes them with open arms. The chief priests and the elders, on the other hand, seem to say “yes” to God — at least in their public teaching — but they have not repented as John the Baptist urged. These seemingly religious people claim to follow the Lord but do not actually do so. Their lack of humility, and unwillingness to turn away from their sin, keeps them from the Kingdom of God while those who seem to be furthest away are entering the kingdom of God. The chief priests and elders clearly lack the virtue of humility — a virtue that the tax collectors and prostitutes have discovered and embraced.

In their lack of humility, the chief priests and elders stand in stark contrast to the description of the Lord Jesus that St. Paul gives in the second reading. St. Paul reminds us that, although Jesus is Divine, the Son of God, He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance. In the sight of all those around him, Jesus is lowly. He is known as the carpenter’s son from Nazareth. Rather than exalt Himself, He humbled Himself. Jesus came, not in all His glory, but as a servant in order to teach us how to be humble. Humility stands out beautifully when we contemplate the life of Jesus and the depths of His Sacred Heart. He Himself says, I am meek and humble of heart.

It is certainly very challenging to mature in the virtue of humility, especially in our social media-driven world. Humility is challenging because we have a desire to be known and recognized. We want to be seen. We often want to be the center of attention. We want to be better than others. We want to get ahead of others. Yet, if you have been around someone with very little humility, you know that it is not very pleasant. Arrogant, narcissistic, self-centered people are usually not enjoyable to spend time with. Those who are humble, on the other hand, usually make good friends. They listen to us rather than desire only to be heard. They put the other first. They show care, concern, and compassion . . . because humility draws us out of ourselves. Thus, St. Paul tells us, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others.

No matter what your state in life, humility is essential. The husband or wife who puts him/herself before his/her spouse will inevitably cause the relationship to suffer. Spouses who are humble, on the other hand, always thinking of the other first, cause the relationship to flourish. The priest who seeks to build himself up and does not put the needs of others before his own causes his flock to scatter and fall away. The priest with humility, on the other hand, builds up the Kingdom of God. So, Christ and the Church challenge us today to take a look at ourselves. In what ways do we need to grow in humility? How can we begin to put others more and more before ourselves?

In just a few moments, we will approach the Sacrament of the Lord’s humility. Not only did the Eternally Begotten Son of God take on human flesh, but He has also given us His Flesh to eat. Christ humbled Himself through the Incarnation. Christ humbled Himself on the cross. Christ continues to humble Himself by the transformation of the simple elements of bread and wine into His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. As we approach this Sacrament today and at every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we are reminded of the humility of the Savior and Redeemer. Christ humbled himself . . . and because of this, God greatly exalted him. If we refuse to humble ourselves, we will be locked out of the Kingdom, but if we do humble ourselves, with Christ we too shall be greatly exalted by God.

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 8, 2023

Readings: Is 5:1–7 • Ps 80:9, 12, 13–14, 15–16, 19–20 • Phil 4:6–9 • Mt 21:33–43    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/100823.cfm

We often feel crushed under the weight of the anxieties of our lives and of the world — anxieties that come from personal struggles, family struggles, work struggles. We might worry about a loved one who is sick. We might worry about elderly parents. We worry about children or other family members going down the wrong road. We might be worried that they will harm themselves or be miserable their whole lives. We worry about paying all the bills and providing for everything the family needs. If we did not have enough to be anxious about in our own lives, when we turn on the television or grab our phones, we are bombarded with the bad news of the day: hostile politics, wars raging, violence in the streets, hurricanes and wildfires, and more. There is no doubt that a huge segment of the population nowadays is worried, anxious, and suffering from depression.

Yet, in the midst of the worries and anxieties of our lives and the world, we come to Mass today and God’s word gives us another way. St. Paul is no stranger to worry and anxiety due to difficult situations. St. Paul says: Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea . . . In toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches. Obviously St. Paul was not living in comfort and luxury and he had lots to worry about. Yet the same man who experienced all of this says to us today in the second reading: have no anxiety at all. How can he say this? Well, it is not as if he just says, “don’t worry,” and leaves it at that. St. Paul offers us a two-part alternative.

First he says: In everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. In everything, make your requests known to God. St. Paul exhorts us to turn to prayer, rather than to remain stuck in our own minds. Not only in good times and not only in bad times, but in everything. St. Paul urges us not to hold anything back from God in prayer. Whatever fear, whatever worry, whatever anxiety we experience, we must make the decision to pray always and to pray without ceasing.

A Christian must have a life of prayer that goes beyond the superficial. Pope Benedict XVI once said, “Prayer is not an accessory or ‘optional,’ but a question of life or death. In fact, only those who pray, in other words, who entrust themselves to God with filial love, can enter eternal life, which is God himself” (4 March 2007). St. Paul adds that when we go to God with our prayers and petitions, we ought to do it with thanksgiving. Whether we are coming to God in a moment of joy or suffering, we ought to do it with thanksgiving because everything comes from God or is permitted by God. If we are rejoicing, we rejoice because the Lord has blessed us. If we are suffering, we thank Him because we have come to trust that God will transform that suffering for our good. Jesus transformed the suffering of the cross. He can transform our sufferings, and will indeed do so. If we go to the Lord trustingly in prayer in everything and with thanksgiving, St. Paul says, then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

The second part of St. Paul’s alternative to living a life burdened by worry and anxiety is this: Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. One of the reasons why we are often stuck in the mud is because, for some reason, we like to play in the mud. We are fascinated with the bad things that are happening. If we were not, we would not ever turn on the evening news or endlessly go down the rabbit holes of the internet! We are fascinated with evil. Just look at the majority of films that are produced, filled with evil and violence. We are so quick to share all the wicked things that go on and that other people do. We say, “look at what he/she did,” or “did you hear what he/she said?”

Instead of remaining in the mud, St. Paul urges us, think and talk about the good, the true, the beautiful, the pure, the lovely, the gracious. Think and talk about whatever is worthy of praise. These are the things that should flood our minds and hearts. How much less worried and anxious we would be if we spent just a few minutes more each day focusing on the good things that are happening, and most importantly, focusing on the only One Who Is Good — God Himself.

As we approach the True Presence of the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, we should follow St. Paul’s advice: Go to God with everything. Then, as we make our way out of this church into the streets, having been strengthened by the Lord’s own Body and Blood, we might be able to focus more intentionally on the true, the good, and the beautiful. Then the God of peace will be with you.

28th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 15, 2023

Readings: Is 25:6–10a • Ps 23:1–3a, 3b–4, 5, 6 • Phil 4:12–14, 19–20 • Mt 22:1–14    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/101523.cfm

In the Gospel today, we read about a King who is throwing a wedding feast for his son. At the banquet of a king, the food is sure to be an epicurean delight; the vintage of wine is certain to be exceptional; the musicians are going to be concert quality; the guest list will unquestionably include the most important people the King knows. This is one of those invitations that you just do not turn down. First of all, because the King has invited you, and if the King’s invitation is not enough to convince you, at least you know it is going to be a good party.

So, when Jesus tells us the parable of the Kingdom of God in today’s Gospel, the response of those invited is practically unthinkable. The first group of guests refused to come. The second group of guests ignored the invitation and went away, one to his farm, another to his business. The third group of guests: laid hold of his servants, mistreated them, and killed them. Who would reject the invitation of the king? Who would rather do something other than come to this magnificent feast? Who would have the audacity to kill the royal host’s servants?

Jesus tells this parable because His Father has been inviting people to a heavenly feast and all that Jesus describes in the parable has happened to His Father. God had been calling people to Himself for thousands of years. Think of the Hebrews, newly freed from slavery in Egypt by the hand of God. He promises them a land flowing with milk and honey. Yet what do they do? They turn away from Him. They make idols for themselves. They revel and throw their own party. Despite His remaining faithful and giving them chance after chance after chance, God’s people continue to ignore His invitation.

God does not stop inviting. He sends prophets to speak on His behalf, like Isaiah from whom we hear today. Isaiah speaks about God’s feast saying: On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines. After hundreds of years of prophets, God the Father expands His guest list beyond the chosen people: Jesus says to His disciples, go out to all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, readying a people for the banquet of the New Covenant — the Eucharist. So, the disciples do just that and we have continued until this day. We go out into the streets and invite whomever we can find, bad and good alike.

There are many who have rejected the invitation. We can talk all about those who have rejected or ignored the invitation, but those people are not here listening to this homily! We certainly need to pray for them and encourage them. Those who have rejected the invitation are members of our families and can be counted among our friends. Yet those of us who are here mostly fall into the category of those who have been brought in from the streets by the servants to this feast — the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass — which foreshadows and prepares us for the eternal wedding feast of heaven, described by St. John in the Book of Revelation as the wedding feast of the lamb. So, the question is: have we come to the feast dressed in a wedding garment? We know that the guest who was not dressed properly went into the darkness outside where there [is] wailing and grinding of teeth.

While dressing nicely for Mass is important, that is not what Jesus is talking about here. Jesus is concerned about whether we are spiritually prepared for the feast. Some who are unprepared might be tempted to say, “You’re lucky I’m even here.” That is not the attitude the King is looking for. It is simply not enough just to show up. As Jesus says elsewhere, not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the Kingdom of God. We must ask the Lord for the grace to desire to give Him the best of who we are.

So, what does it mean to come to the banquet of the Lord with a proper wedding garment? First and foremost, it means that we must receive the Sacrament of Baptism. It is at baptism that we first receive our wedding garment — the white garment that we were told to keep unstained until we reach heaven. The necessity of Baptism for participation in the banquet of the Eucharist was understood well by early Christians. St. Justin Martyr, writing in the second century says, in his First Apology, “This food we call the Eucharist, which no one is allowed to share except the one who believes that our teaching is true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins and unto regeneration.” So, if you are here as a seeker, begin the journey toward Baptism so that you might receive your wedding garment!

Most of us here are baptized. Once we have received that wedding garment at Baptism, it is our responsibility to keep our baptismal promises — to turn away from sin and to turn totally toward the Lord. Maintaining the integrity of this wedding garment means following the commandments of Christ and living a life marked by the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. It means asking for forgiveness when we turn away from the Lord by sinning. It means having a life of prayer that goes beyond the superficial.

Now, do not despair if you have not maintained the integrity of your wedding garment. Instead, be encouraged by St. Paul who told us today: I can do all things in him who strengthens me. The grace of God makes it possible for us to enter His feast well prepared. We must, however, do our part to cooperate with the grace He has offered. If your wedding garment has been cast aside, or if it is torn or soiled, the grace of God can restore it. God’s grace can restore your wedding garment through a good confession and a firm resolution to turn toward the Lord.

We have all been invited by a king, and not just any king, but the King of Kings. That is why there will not be a day in my life when I will not go to the altar of God, to feast on the food that Jesus has given: His own Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. The Mass is the greatest feast we can attend here on earth. It is more exquisite than any feast given by an earthly king. It is an invitation that simply cannot be turned down. At the same time, it is a feast for which we must be well prepared. Do not just show up. Enter the feast with a heart and soul made ready.

The feast is ready! Blessed are those called to the supper [the wedding feast] of the Lamb!

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 22, 2023

Readings: Is 45:1, 4–6 • Ps 96:1, 3, 4–5, 7–8, 9–10 • 1 Thes 1:1–5b • Mt 22:15–21  bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/102223.cfm

In today’s first reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, we hear about a very interesting figure in the history of the world: the great King Cyrus. He ruled over one of the largest and most powerful empires the world has ever known. He was very good to the people of Israel even though he was not one of them. While many kings throughout history sought to eradicate God’s holy people, Cyrus justly allowed them to live in peace and to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. God, as they say, writes straight with crooked lines! God used a king who did not even follow Him to continue to unfold His plan of salvation.

It is important to note, however, that even though God worked through Cyrus and others, all of the problems of God’s people were not solved by rulers of the world; the salvation of God’s people did not come from Cyrus or any others wielding political power. Salvation comes from God alone, as we read in Psalm 62. Christ Jesus [and He alone] is our hope, as Timothy says in his first letter. We must remain mindful of this, lest we fall into the trap of seeing the solution to all of our problems and the salvation of our nation in a particular political party or candidate.

An ancient Christian letter from the second century, the Letter to Diognetus, reveals to us that from the earliest days of Christianity, Christians were fully involved as citizens wherever they lived. The author says, “Christians . . . follow the customs of whatever city they happen to be living in . . . They play their full role as citizens.” But, the author also continues, “they champion no purely human doctrine . . . There is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through.” Why do they live as if they are just visitors in their own homeland? Well, because the true homeland of every Christian is heaven. St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, even tells us, our citizenship is in heaven. So we must be good citizens of our land, but never forget that God’s desired ultimate destination for us is heaven. All of our decisions must be made with that ultimate destination in mind, and we must remember that our decisions here on earth will affect our ultimate destination.

In the Gospel today Jesus gives us a striking example of how to be engaged as true and good citizens while not getting trapped in the potholes that politics creates. The Pharisees and the Herodians try to trap Jesus with a question about paying the census tax. They represent two distinct parties that are both trying to get Jesus on their side. While they are hypocrites who are just trying to flatter Jesus to get him to side with them, they recognize something true about Jesus. They say: Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status. Having recognized this, they should not be surprised when Jesus refuses to be used as a political pawn, and when He makes clear that He is not a political revolutionary as some hoped he might be. The coin that the Pharisees and Herodians show Jesus has the image of Caesar engraved on it, so He says, repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, effectively telling them to be good citizens.

Jesus, however, reminds them that it is not enough to be a good citizen. He adds: [repay] to God what belongs to God. So we need to ask, what belongs to God? Surely not money. Think back to the Book of Genesis when we hear: God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. The Roman coin bears Caesar’s image, but we all bear God’s image. Each one of us bears God’s sacred image, whether we are in our mother’s womb or at the end of life, whether we are of one skin color or another, whether we were born in one place or another, whether we are rich or poor. If Jesus says to give to Caesar the coin that bears his image, Jesus certainly desires us to give ourselves to God — because we are made in His image. If we all bear God’s sacred image, we have no right to destroy or harm any innocent person bearing the image of God. Furthermore, if we are commanded by the Lord to give to God what belongs to God, then we have the responsibility of protecting and safeguarding what belongs to God so that we might actually be able to give to Him what belongs to Him.

Our engagement with the world and politics must be to sanctify the world. It must make our world a place that is more in conformity with God’s plan — a plan, which, like our own nation’s Declaration of Independence, recognizes the importance of life before anything else, because without life, there is no liberty or the pursuit of happiness. We must recognize that our political engagement can be used to promote and defend what is sacred, good, and true so that what belongs to God may be rightly given to Him. Most importantly, in the end and above all, while we strive to be good citizens, we place our hope only in the Lord, Who is our salvation.

30th Sunday in Ordinary Time – October 29, 2023

Readings: Ex 22:20–26 • Ps 18:2–3, 3–4, 47, 51 • 1 Thes 1:5c–10 • Mt 22:34–40    bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/102923.cfm

Every word Jesus speaks has weight and is rich in meaning. Jesus says to us today: you shall love your neighbor as yourself. When we read this second great commandment that the Lord gives us, we usually focus on the “love your neighbor” part. Jesus, however, did not just say, you shall love your neighbor. He added two more words — as yourself — and those words are important. Today, let us focus only on what those last two words teach us. Jesus asks us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. That, of course, presupposes that we actually do love ourselves. If we do not love ourselves or if we do not properly love ourselves, it will be impossible to love others as they ought to be loved.

By “loving ourselves,” Jesus certainly does not mean being prideful and selfish. It is not about treating ourselves to gifts and other luxuries. To love ourselves, we must first recognize who we are in the sight of God. How can we possibly love what we do not know? Yet it is clear that many have never known or have lost sight of who we are in the eyes of God. As men and women, we are created in the image and likeness of God. We are icons of the God who created us. As baptized Catholics, we are sons and daughters of our Father in heaven and brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ! Icons of the Trinity. Sons and daughters of the Father. Brothers and sisters of the Lord. That is essentially who we are. That is our identity and it is a precious and beautiful gift given to us. Without a firm grasp and knowledge of who we are in relation to God, it is no wonder that so many today experience a crisis of identity and seek to create their own identities.

In talking to a lot of people — both young and old and in many different states of life — one easily discovers that few people love themselves as God wills us to. So many people at one time or another say: I do not love who I am. I hate myself for something I have done. I cannot forgive myself. I am not a good person. I am not worthy of God’s love. I am not worthy of anything.

There are many reasons why any of us might say those things about ourselves. Often it is because we have some spiritual wound. Maybe you might think those things because you have not experienced the love of another. Maybe you were not loved well by those who should have loved you — a father, mother, brother, sister, or spouse. Maybe someone actually said at some point that you are no good. Maybe someone hurt you in a way that has changed the way you look at yourself. Maybe the sins of your past weigh heavily upon your soul and your mind. Sometimes the wound is inflicted by another and sometimes it is a consequence of our own sinfulness. These wounds, if not given the proper care and attention necessary, cause great spiritual harm.

We cannot possibly love our neighbor if we do not know ourselves and love ourselves. Not only is it difficult to love our neighbor when we let these wounds fester, but it also becomes difficult to love God and therefore fulfill the first and greatest commandment. There is, however, a cure for these wounds, whether they have been inflicted by another or are self-inflicted. God sent his Son, the Divine Physician. We know that this Divine Physician spent His time on earth healing, not only physical illness, but more importantly, spiritual illness. It is this Divine Physician who has the cure to our spiritual wounds. That is why we read in Scripture, by his wounds we are healed. To be healed of our wounds, we must willingly go to the Lord. We need to give Him permission to heal, because He does not force a cure upon us. If you are wounded by sin, go to confession and be healed by the Lord. When we do encounter the Lord, especially in that Sacrament, He reveals to us His healing power, and the healing power of the Father and the Holy Spirit.

The evil one wants us to remain distant from the Lord. Because when we are away from the Lord, we turn inward and become closed within ourselves, remaining in the misery that our spiritual wounds cause us. When we turn to the Lord Jesus, we find in Him the Redeemer and the Savior, or as the Psalmist says today, my rock, my fortress, my deliverer . . . the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. He is the One alone who can free us from our sins and from every evil. He reveals to us the healing power of His Father by teaching us who we are in the Father’s eyes. He shows us that we are truly sons and daughters of God the Father — a Father who created us out of love and for love, and who sustains us in love. Remember the words of Jesus that we sang in the Alleluia Verse today: Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.

Jesus reveals the Father who bestowed such dignity upon us that He made each of us

in His image and likeness, and when He first gazed upon His human creation, he said, it is very good. He had already looked upon everything else. The sun was good. The moon was good. The animals and plants were good. Man and woman: very good. He shows us a Father who cannot bear to see His own image and likeness distorted, so He went to great lengths to save us from our wounds and brokenness, by sending His Only Begotten to die on the cross for us. He shows us a Father who has promised His sons and daughters that they will be heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven.

You do not have to go far to find the Lord who will heal. The Lord is Truly Present here with us in this Holy Mass. Jesus Christ is present in the Most Holy Eucharist. To Him we must go to be healed of our wounds and to learn who we truly are. He would not be Present here in such a humble way if he did not love us. See on the altar how you are loved by Him and let Him reveal to you who you truly are. Loved by Him, ask Him to help you to love yourself as He desires you to love yourself. Then and only then will you be able to love your neighbor as yourself.

Fr. Louis Philip Masi About Fr. Louis Philip Masi

Fr. Louis P. Masi, Ph.L., S.T.L., is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York. He is the Administrator of the Parishes of St. Augustine and Sts. John & Paul in Larchmont, NY.


  1. Fr. did you mention our Lords Spirit.
    Yes we pray to the father, but His Spirit will lead us and teach us how to love
    Him first and then his spirit will leads us and show us how to love ourselves and our neighbours
    We confess our sins because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
    Fr. this is the ways I understand it right now.
    How can I see your response.
    Please accept my apology if I’m wrong.

    • Avatar Fr. Louis P. Masi says:

      Thank you for your comment. Of course, the role of the Holy Spirit is powerful and essential. I did choose, in the particular homily you reference, to focus on the Father and the Son. I could have written another entire homily on the Holy Spirit’s role! That said, while I did focus on the Father and the Son, I didn’t forget the Holy Spirit: I said, “When we do encounter the Lord, especially in that Sacrament, He reveals to us His healing power, and the healing power of the Father and the Holy Spirit.”