I ask myself, how often have I betrayed a truth that I know out of fear? I pray for the strength, fortitude, wisdom, trust, and faith to cease acting out of fear and accept the responsibility to act out of love and truth.
Sunday, September 29, 2013
20th Sunday In Ordinary Time - 18 August 2013
Shared Homily Starter
First reading: Jeremiah 38.4-6, 8-10
Second reading: Hebrews 12.1-4
Gospel: Luke 12.49-53
If we look at the first reading in terms of today, we could say that
the officials are synonymous with the heads of the military-industrial
complex.They ignore the warning signs
and want to silence anyone who speaks out about what should be obvious.In Jeremiah, we hear them say, “This man
ought to be put to death, because he is discouraging the soldiers and everyone
left in the city, by speaking such words to them. He’s not looking our for the people, but wishes them harm.”We hear this echoed today in words such as, “These
people don’t care about the economy, or jobs.They are anti-progress, anti-capitalism, anti-American or anti-Canadian.
In the reading, there is one man in the king’s house, who has seen
through the rhetoric and tells the king as much.Ebed-melech has also noticed the signs, the
early warnings of what Jeremiah foretold, and says, “There is no bread left in
the city.”We too, have warning signs
of what our environmental prophets have been telling us.For example,
§Fukushima nuclear plant operator TEPCO, has
finally admitted that there is a “state of emergency” as the radioactive water
from the plant has been leaking into the Pacific Ocean
since May 2011.
§There was an oil spill at Fort St.
John on Canada Day weekend
§Oil has been spilling unabated for
weeks at four separate sites at an oil sands operation in Alberta, near the home of the Cold Lake
First Nation, killing dozens of animals and 30,600 kg of oily vegetation has
been cleared from the latest of the four spill zones.
Despite all this, the second reading gives us hope.Yes, these catastrophes are threatening our
lives and our planet but we are “surrounded by so great a cloud of
witnesses.”Now, like never before there
is worldwide grassroots concern about the environmental, ecological, and
economic threats to us all.The global
occupy movement is a positive response to the negative signs of the times.Likewise, all around the world, there are
groups of women coming together in circles across racial and religious lines to
work and to pray for a better world.
Let me be clear, the work takes place among all of God’s people.There are people of all faiths and of no
faith, gathering together to do God’s work of peace and justice.But we are a Christian people and Paul tells
us to look to Jesus, the pioneer and perfector of our faith, who endured
hostility against himself for our sake.When we feel alone in our struggles, let us remember our model, Jesus, as
we pray for, work with and support the work of faith-based as well as secular
organizations, whose purpose it is to work for peace and justice.
This brings me to today’s Gospel.Jesus says he came to bring fire to the earth and how he wishes it were
already kindled.We are the kindling!We are to become ablaze with desire to honour
the prophetic role in our baptismal call.
The next part of today’s Gospel has always been a problem for me
before.How could Jesus have come to
bring division?But as I was preparing
for today’s homily, a new insight took form.I’ve come to understand that sometimes when we follow the Gospel of love
and justice, our family members may not agree with us.For example, when the North American Free
Trade Agreement was being discussed and promoted, my cousin and I had a huge
disagreement.He really believed that
the profits to be made would trickle down to those on the lower rungs of the
economic ladder.I vehemently
disagreed.He ended up shaking his head and
looking at me as some poor deluded creature before calling me a communist.He is still waiting for the trickle down.
That is a minor example of the division Jesus is talking about in the
Gospel.Another example is St. Clare
whose feast day was last Sunday.When
she left home to become a nun, the men in her family went to retrieve her by
force but she was already tonsured.As a
result, she alienated not only the men in her family but many other members of
her social class in Assisi.
So the gospel is telling us that sometimes following Jesus will
require sacrificing peace in the family.But we can be consoled by the fact that we are not alone in this, we
have Jesus and we have each other.And
because Jesus speaks of division and not enmity, we can also live in the hope
that the long-range vision of our detractors will be improved by our love.