Promises, promises!

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Homily for the Twenty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)

Audio for homily

Were you listening? Did you hear the amazing promises?

Be strong, fear not! Someone is coming to save us:
   to resolve our every problem,
   to bring peace to our troubled hearts,
   to heal our infirmities,
   to restore our happiness and prosperity,
   and to reconcile all our differences.
Someone is coming to save us and he will “do all things well!”

And all we have to do is figure out
if that’s Mitt Romney or Barack Obama!

Well, did the Republicans and Democrats
promise us anything less than Isaiah did in today’s first reading?

I’m not afraid that one presidential candidate or the other won’t fulfill
what’s been said of him.

I’m already confident that that both will certainly fail
at being the Messiah their political parties have promised us.

My fear is that we might more easily believe and put our trust
in political promises than we do in what the Lord promises us.

Do we get more excited, more energized by a candidate’s promises
- than by God’s?

In the past two weeks, whose promises excited you the most?
Mitt’s?   Barack’s?   or Isaiah’s?

After the candidates and their supporters finish their speeches,
the “fact checkers” swing into action
to determine the truth of what they said.

I wonder if any reluctance we have in trusting God
comes from our own “fact checking” of his promises to us
that leads us to conclude that, like politicians,
perhaps God doesn’t always deliver what he pledges.

Is it difficult for us to trust Isaiah’s promise that the Lord will
give sight to the blind, a voice to the mute and strength to the lame
when the same Lord didn’t heal my loved one of cancer?

Trusting in God’s promises
and living with God’s often mysterious answers to our prayers
can leave us feeling let down, even betrayed.

Of course, God is not campaigning for our vote.

And God doesn’t pledge to deliver what he promises
within the limits of a particular term of office.

God’s been the Chief Chief Executive since before the world began
and he’ll be in office “for ever and ever. Amen.”

That’s a fact – and you can check it.

But God’s promises may not always be what they appear to be.
God’s primary interest lies in what in each of us
will last forever: our hearts, our souls.

Even a restored limb or recovered sight will one day cease to serve us.

But a healed heart and a soul saved from its own foolishness:
these will last forever and prove God’s fidelity to his promises.

It’s been said:
God makes a promise,
faith believes it,
hope anticipates it
and patience quietly waits for it.

In large measure, most of our lives is spent
between God’s promise and our waiting for its fulfillment.

Faith and hope are the gifts that help us in our waiting,
in our trusting that God will,
in his own way, and in his own time,
make good his word to us.

And while we wait, the Lord calls on each of us, as we’re able,
to deliver to our neighbor, especially to the poor,
the help that God has promised them.

While we're waiting, St. James tells us what we need to be doing.
We need to be delivering to our neighbor, especially to the poor,
the help that God has promised them.
It will be, as James reminds us, it will be among the poor
- not among the wealthy or the middle class -
but it will be among the poor that the promise of the kingdom
will be revealed and realized.

You won’t find that plank in either party’s platform
but it’s in the heart of the Savior promised by Isaiah,
the One who gathers us at his table today.

May Christ,
who waited in patience, through death, for life,
may Christ feed us in the Eucharist with the faith and hope we need
to wait, in patience, for God’s promises to us to be fulfilled.


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