Here is my homily for the weekend. God bless all1
12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A
Jeremiah 20: 10-13; Romans 5: 12-15; Matthew 10: 26-33
June 20/21, 2020
Jesus said, “Fear no one!” Later in the Gospel, after the resurrection, he repeatedly said, “Peace be with you!” Pope St. John Paul II said in October of 1978, “Do not be afraid! Open wide your hearts to Christ!”
These commands beg the question, “Can we live without fear and in peace?” Given what has been happening in our world these past months with the pandemic, the riots, and the violence, we begin to wonder if peace of mind or peace in society is possible.
We know that God is aware of all things; nothing happens without his knowledge; nothing is secret from him. We know that God is holding us in his hands every moment, breathing into us the breath of life, willing us into life every moment, over and over again without ceasing. We know we cannot escape God’s notice, or his love for us, whether we are here or there, sailing the seas or the depths of outer space. God simply is. God continually sustains us. God feeds us.
We know these things, don’t we? We were taught them as children and we retain them as adults. Yet, the reality of disease, sin, imperfection, pain, and injustice confronts us on a daily basis. Jeremiah found that out in his life, as we heard in the first reading, and St. John Paul II certainly knew it because he lived through Nazism and Communism, and Jesus knew it also. So do we. Life challenges our faith.
May I ask you a question? Please answer in the silence of your own mind for the moment, and if you wish to share your answer with me later, I would be willing to listen to you.
My question is: “Do you feel you are being fed by God in the Church?” I use that word “fed” deliberately, because it is a word I have heard people use trying to explain to me why they quit coming to Mass or left the Church when they experience sin, injustice, pain, or suffering in the Church.
A couple of weeks ago, many miles from here, I met a woman who had obvious faith. She spoke freely of her faith in Jesus; she even prayed in a public manner, and in an appropriate way. I approached her and commended her faith expression. I asked where she had received the faith, and where she worshipped. She then told me her story, and how she had been raised Catholic, but left the Church and became a Baptist. I asked her why she left and told her I would welcome her back home any time. She answered by saying she had been treated unjustly and was “not being fed” in the Catholic Church. She is a dear woman, and I invited her to further conversation and offered my help should she ever wish to come home to the Church.
But I cannot not help but be struck by her comment about not being fed by the Church at a time of distress in her life. I felt terrible about it. I thought about how she was fed at every Mass with the Body and Blood, the Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ; how she had been fed with God himself in the Eucharist; how she had also been fed at every Mass with the Word of God in the Scriptures. What better food is there than the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Jesus? How much better could she had been fed?”
Yes, we are fed with God himself, in his Word and with the Real Presence of Christ in the midst of our distress, worry, pain, and injustice. Last weekend, we celebrated the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, our food, who is God, by which we are fed. What better food indeed with which to be fed? God feeds us so much always: with the Bread of Life in the Eucharist; with the Word of Life, in the Scriptures, with the Breath of Life at every moment of our lives!
For us to live without fear, and in peace, [like Jesus commands us] in the midst of the things that are happening in our world today, we must, allow God to be God, i.e., allow Him to love and care for us; allow him to feed us every moment of our lives; allow him to come into our lives by receiving worthily Holy Communion. God can only love and care and feed us perfectly and completely. He cannot skimp; he lavishly and abundantly feeds us. It is who He is.
For us to live without fear, and in peace, in the midst of the things that are happening in our world today, we must also, as Jesus said, be thoroughly convinced of the dignity of every human being. We are worth more that a few sparrows! Even though we may be prodigal sons and daughters, we are sons and daughters of God. We cannot escape our dignity, no matter how prodigal we may be, no matter what color or ethnicity we may be, no matter our circumstances in life.
We have a hard time accepting our dignity because we have a hard time accepting God’s sovereignty in our lives. We have a hard time accepting God as God and each other as his sons and daughters. So we begin to fear. We should be in control, we think. We should be able to protect ourselves; we should be able to manage with our own talents and efforts. We exclude God. We become troubled and restless when we do not rest in God’s care, when we do not let God feed us.
God is constantly feeding us! God is constantly giving himself to us! God is constantly sustaining our lives!
Wherever we are, God is. Whatever we face, God provides. However deep the fear, God’s love is deeper. However unfair life may seem, God’s perfect justice prevails.
Pray for the gift of faith! It will allow you to see all this. Faith casts a light on the presence of God in all things. Faith allows us to see the dignity that is ours as sons and daughters.
Faith gives us peace!