(Scriptures for today's Mass)
Audio for homily
What is it that makes it so difficult for us
to warn someone whom we see walking into harm’s way?
And I’m not talking about grabbing the arm
of someone about to walk into the path of an oncoming car.
I trust we all still have the common sense to do that.
But why are we so slow to act and reticent to speak -
when we see someone walking into an unhealthy relationship?
What silences us when we see someone we care for
making poor choices and bad decisions?
Why do we keep our mouths shut in conversations in which
what we know to be wrong is condoned;
what we believe to be false is accepted as true;
what we judge unjust is defended as fair?
In large measure, there seems to be a silent agreement in our culture
not to interfere, to intervene in one another’s lives;
or to correct what we observe to be the mistakes others make;
or to question the validity of their thoughts and opinions.
To whatever degree we no longer believe
that any objective truth exists or can be known,
to that degree this silent agreement among us holds sway.
In such a moral desert, a serious and dangerous corollary of all this
is that we fail to help one another when we’re in trouble
and, perhaps worse,
we give up our efforts to discern and know what it true.
And when we fail to seek a truth greater than ourselves
we become, by default, our own individual arbiters of truth,
forgetful, if not mindless, of the wisdom of the ages.
• It may not be easy, then, for us to hear the Lord tell Ezekiel and us
that if we don’t dissuade others from their errant ways,
if we don’t inform the mistaken and warn the naïve,
then we might well be held responsible for their guilt.
• It may not be easy for us to hear Jesus counsel us in the gospel here
to speak one-on-one with our neighbor
to address how they’ve offended us.
• And it may not be easy to hear St. Paul remind us
to “love our neighbor as ourselves.”
Indeed, if love does no evil to the neighbor
then love does not, cannot permit us to stand by
while our neighbor walks into harm’s way
or chooses what is wrong.
You see, it’s not only our loss of respect
for a truth greater than ourselves that’s the stumbling block here.
Sometimes, we simply do not love our neighbor.
• What are the longstanding grudges and resentments you and I hold
against family members, neighbors, classmates, coworkers?
• Who are those in my family who don’t speak to each other?
Am I among them?
• Who in our parish is the object of my disdain or anger?
Are there sometimes others in the Communion line
to whom I don’t speak?
whose faults or problems I’ve gossiped about?
If I don’t love my fellow parishioners, my neighbors,
the people I know at work and at school,
the members of my own family – if I don’t love them,
how will I find the courage to speak to them and reach out to them
when I find them in harm’s way?
The place to begin, of course, is with myself.
Even with those I do love, my efforts to help them
need to be based in a truth, in a wisdom,
greater than that of my own resources and invention.
How do I seek out the truth for myself?
How do the scriptures and church teaching and prayer
inform and guide and shape me and my choices and my decisions?
Do I have something to offer, to share with my neighbor -
a truth greater than my own thoughts and opinions?
As I offer advice and help to others in their problems,
am I making an honest effort to live my own life
as God calls me to live it?
St. Paul reminded us today to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.
Jesus did so much more than that.
He loved us more than he loved himself;
he loved us more than he loved his own life.
For us, the guilty, he laid down his life
so that we might be forgiven and have life forever.
As he gave his life for us on the Cross,
so he offers it to us again, today,
in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist at this Table.
May the truth of the Lord’s presence in our Communion here
stir in us a hunger for the truth of God’s wisdom
and a desire to share it, in love, with one another.
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