Here is my homily for this weekend. God bless all!
29th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Cycle C
Ex 17: 8-13; 2 Tim 3: 14-4: 2; Lk 18: 1-8
October 15/16, 2016
“Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night?” Luke 18: 7
Have you ever been afflicted with a nagging problem, maybe a physical disease that won’t go away, or perhaps an emotional problem, or an addiction that gets the best of you over and over again, or maybe a spiritual problem that only leaves you in a spiritual darkness and God seems so far away, absent?
Have you ever prayed, “Why don’t you take this away from me, God! Why have you not answered my prayers and healed me, if you love me and are all-powerful?”
Have you ever wondered why people seem to pray more in times of distress, sickness, set-backs, loneliness and disappointments than they do when things are going well?
Over and over again, people have asked me, “If God is good and powerful, why does he let this bad thing continue?”, and so often their faith begins to waiver.
Our readings today give us a clue as to the answer to these questions. The answer lies in prayer and being open to God’s touch.
We are told in our first reading today that Moses prayed without ceasing, and as long as he held his hands aloft in prayer, supported by others, good overcame evil. When he stopped praying, the battle was lost.
In the Gospel, we hear of the unceasing prayer of an afflicted woman, and the eventual response.
We too must pray without wearying in our lives. In other words, we must be open to God’s touch! God touches us in prayer. All our suffering are invitations to be touched by God, to feel the touch of Jesus!
We know now that St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta lived most of her adult life in a profound spiritual darkness. God seemed absent. We have always known that she was surrounded every day with sickness, injustice, pain, and death. Surely, she of all people had reason to doubt God’s love and power and existence, but she didn’t. Instead when asked how she did it all, she said, “I have a secret. I pray.” Mother Teresa prayed, and she prayed without ceasing or wearying.
When we were baptized, God put a mark on our souls, the indelible mark we learned about in our catechism. It is a mark that will never go away, but a mark that we can desensitize and make numb. That mark is the place where God touches us. We must keep that mark sensitive. We cannot let it scab over or be covered by scar tissue. We cannot put a coat of armor over it. Scabs and scar tissue and armor are sins. Sin desensitizes the mark, and results in us turning away from God. We have to let the mark remain open, sensitive, pure, tender so when God touches it, we will feel it and turn to him.
God allows bad things to happen, but he doesn’t will them. He is not the cause. He allows them to happen so we might keep open that mark, so we will remain sensitive to his touch, and turn to him in our need. These illnesses, set-backs, disappointments, and addictions are not willed by God, but used by him to say to us: “Come closer to me.” God invites us into a deeper relationship. “Come to me!” he says. “Let me touch you! Do not be afraid! Have faith!”
That is why St. Mother Teresa had to touch the sick and the dying. She wanted to be touched by God whom she recognized in their faces. Every time she touched a sick person, she realized it was her God-given opportunity to return to God once again, to be touched by him. That is why everyday she went to God in a holy hour before the Blessed Sacrament and why she went to confession so frequently, i.e., all the sickness and injustices she saw every day that refused to go away was her opportunity to grow closer to God and feel his touch at that mark on her soul.
When we suffer and God seems far away, he is saying something to us. He is saying, “Have faith in my response to your prayers. Come closer to me. Be faithful. I will never abandon you. Let me touch you where you hurt. I have poured out my Spirit into your life. Have faith in me. I am here.”
The suffering we endure are our opportunities to say “Yes” to God’s presence and goodness, our opportunities for conversion, to be cleansed once again.
Finally, everything I have said today requires faith. It is not accepted by anyone who lacks faith. That is why at the end of today’s Gospel, Jesus ends by asking, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on the earth?”
Be faithful! Never stop praying! Remain open to his touch! God will secure the rights of his chosen ones who call out to him day and night. He calls you to come closer. He will not leave you alone in times of suffering and distress.