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Intention Matters

The 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Why do you do the things that you do? As I prayed with this gospel that was the repeated question that I couldn’t escape. Why do you do the things that you do? Because your intention matters, and your intention can change over time the longer that you do the things that you do.

Consider the scribes at the start of the gospel that Jesus rightfully and harshly criticizes. They go around in long robes, which were traditional garments of prayer, accepting greeting and places of honor, devouring the houses of widows and reciting lengthy prayers. Why do they do this? Probably because they like the respect and the attention and being important. They want people to think that they are holy and wise. They want to be popular in the eyes of men. I wonder if they even knew they had those intentions. My guess is probably not. They probably started with a good and pious love of the scriptures and Lord… they studied and learned and people respected them because of it. But somewhere along the way over the course of the years… slowly they stopped thinking about their intentions, and those intentions became corrupted.

Now consider the widow. She gives two small coins, all that she has, to the Temple treasury. Remember that in the society of Jesus a widow has no means to support herself. She can’t go get a job and there is no social security. But even in her poverty she gives all that she has. Why would she do that? Why would she risk not being able to eat, even? Because she wanted to be pleasing in the eyes of God. When those two small coins left her hand, she had full awareness of what she was doing and why. She knew her intentions. That is why the poor, for all their sufferings, are so blest… because they have no choice but to be aware of God and to rely on Him alone.

So the scribes are unaware of their intentions to be favored by men, and the widow is very aware of her intention to be favored by God. Which brings me to the question I can’t escape. Why do you do the things that you do? Why do you come to mass? Why do you profess the Catholic faith? If you lost track of your intention over the years… hopefully it hasn’t become corrupted, but certainly now is the chance to renew and revive the awareness of your choices. And I’ll tell you the only acceptable answer: to find favor with God. You may have other reasons, other good reasons, and that’s alright. But at the end of it all, at the bare bones foundation of why you do what you do, the answer should be to find favor before God.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to suggest a starting place for you to be more intentional. During the Eucharist prayers at mass, give these prayers all the focus and attention that you can must. As the priest prays in your name, be aware that the priest is speaking to the Father in the name of the whole assembly, he is speaking for you… and be very careful to know what he is saying. Every mass. What are we praying, and who are we praying to. Keep that in your minds, develop that skill of being intentional in the most important thing that we do.


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Homilies are meant to be heard, not read… and part of the Eucharistic liturgy, not words that stand alone. Please remember that no homily is written with this blog in mind.

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