Monday, June 24, 2013

23 June 2013 - 12th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

Shared Homily Starter

First reading: Zechariah 12.10-11
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 62
Second reading: Galatians 3.26-29
Gospel: Luke 9.18-24

The scene for the first reading is part of an oracle or warning given by Zachariah to the people who have returned from the Babylonian captivity.  The part of the warning just before today’s reading is that God has intervened to protect Jerusalem from invading armies.  The bodies of the slain would-be invaders are strewn everywhere.  It is at this point that the reading begins. Notice, God has not put a spirit of rejoicing in the hearts of the people.  No, God has poured out a spirit of compassion and supplication for their slain and wounded enemies.

Think of the people of Jerusalem as people of any era, including our own.  This reading suggests that our God inspires us to have compassion for the fallen, even those that may be perceived as enemies.  Our God want us to weep for them as if they were our own children or members of our families.  Further our compassion is to be communal.  We should mourn for them as the ancient community lamented the death of King Josaih at a village in the plain of Megiddo.

In our day, the common folk of the world are a beleaguered people.  We are assaulted by corporate and political policies that promote overconsumption, especially of commodities with built in obsolescence; policies that treat whole populations of people as disposable obstacles to the economic progress of a transnational few.  

We have witnessed some of the ecological disasters that result from these policies: nuclear reactor accidents; oil spills, global warming, etc.   It is easy to have compassion for the innocent victims of disasters, like our brothers and sisters in Calgary.  They have suffered immense loss due to the flooding.  We are not only called to keep them in our prayers, we are called to go three steps further.

First, we are called to work together to change the current unhealthy corporate and political landscape.  Second, we are called to have compassion as we would for an errant child, rather than demonize the business and government leaders, who put profit before people.  Lastly, as a community we have to support each other in the first two steps. 

Our second reading enhances this theme.  We should have compassion because we all house the Breath of God, even though some of us may have forgotten.  This passage in Paul’s letter to the Galatians is usually taught to mean that because we are Christians, there is no longer Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female.  However, let us consider that the passage has a broader meaning; and that is: because we believe in Jesus, we are to see the Divine spark within all people. 

We are all made in the image and likeness of God, including corporate and political leaders, and all those that cause harm.  We don’t have to agree with what they do; but love requires that we care enough to help them open their minds.  Unbridled accumulation and lust for power creates a veil that impairs inner vision.  This veil prevents them from seeing that the image of God and the Oneness of God is reflected in the oneness of creation.  The desire for money and power has blinded many to the True Object of their Desire.  As Saint Augustine states “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

Today’s Gospel tells us that it’s not going to be easy.  Jesus tells us that he was rejected by the powers of his day; that he is to suffer greatly and die at their hands.  Further, Jesus says, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it”.

Although some are called to give their lives, most of us are not called to be martyrs in the literal sense.  But we are called to take up the cross of stripping ourselves of those things within us that keep us from becoming members of the Beloved community.   

For most of us, our busyness makes us negligent in caring for each other.  Jesus said, “let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily”.  Jesus was talking about transforming our daily lives.  For example, e-mail has made us negligent.  How often these days do we just pick up the phone or take the time to actually visit our friends?  Not that I’m calling friends or family “a cross”, but following Jesus can be as simple as taking the time to call a friend or family member to see how they’re doing.  If we don’t care about those close to us, how can we care about others?  If we can’t give what love asks of us by giving a little of our time, we will be ill-prepared if Love ever asks more of us.  Great transformations begin with small steps.

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