Homily for November 15

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

Audio for homily

Early Friday evening, after learning of the events in Paris,
I wrote a prayer to post on my blog and on FaceBook,
a prayer based on the last line of the Our Father:
Deliver us from evil...

The prayer reads like this:
Deliver us from evil, plotting and scheming
to pillage, kill and destroy...

Deliver us from evil that hates the other,
simply for being “other”...

Deliver us from evil slaying the innocent
who’ve done no wrong, no harm...

Deliver us from evil preying on freedom,

preferring the shackles of hate...

Deliver us from evil that minds no reason,

no logic, no wisdom, no sense...

Deliver us from evil striking with terror,
holding the blameless captive...  

Deliver us from evil that lurks in the hearts
of those who hate and despise us...

Deliver us from evil blaspheming the name
of all that is good, pure and just...

Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil, Lord:
deliver us into your mercy and grace,
into the peace of your just word,
into the law of your abiding love...      
There is no doubt that evil stalked the city of Paris,
finally striking with deadly precision.
And evil’s target was much larger than Paris.
On Friday night, we were all in evil’s cross hairs:
our hearts were terror’s target.

The battle between good and evil in society is an ancient one,
as ancient as Cain and Abel, as ancient as humanity.
Today’s first scripture speaks apocalyptically 
of that final battle when all that is good will triumph
and take unto itself all whose names are found
written in the book of life.
But when that day will come, what its hour will be
– no one knows:  only God.

Jesus urges us, then, to watch and be ready
lest that day of reckoning catch us unawares and unprepared.

Might the events in Paris be a sign of the end times?
I doubt it.
But the slaughter of innocent people in France
- or anywhere in the world – is a clear sign for us
that the battle between good and evil endures.

And a danger for us is the temptation to think
that the battle is out there somewhere,
between opposing political forces, somehow outside our selves.
But the scriptures address both the community and the individual,
calling one and calling all to the truth of God’s law of love.

While we will all have our own reactions and responses
to what happened in Paris
I trust we unite in condemning the evil of taking innocent life
for the purpose of striking fear in humanity’s soul.

But, what of the battle with evil each of us might know
within our own hearts?
What of our own skirmishes between right and wrong?
between honesty and lies?  between reality and fantasy?
between the pure and the sullied?  between the just and the unfair?
between fidelity and disloyalty?  between grace and sin?

What of such battles in our own lives,
in our own circumstances,
day by day?

We stand this weekend in the shadow of egregious evil
in whose darkness we may be tempted to ignore our own sin,
our own accommodation with evil in its many forms.

We might even be tempted to respond to the events in Paris
with an angry prejudice, with a vengeance, with a  heated hatred
- not unlike the very evil we want to condemn.
So we may need to pray:
Deliver us from evil, Lord: 
from all evil, from our own evil…

Deliver us from our plotting and scheming
to get what we want at the expense of others…

Deliver us from any narrow-mindedness 
that excludes the other
for being what we don’t understand…

Deliver us from gossip that wounds the hearts
of those who’ve done no harm...

Deliver us from ensuring our own freedom
at the price of an other’s well-being…
Deliver us from thoughts that mind no reason,

no logic, no wisdom, no sense...
Deliver us from our resentments and grudges
that hold others captive...  

Deliver us from contempt that lurks in our hearts
and feeds our bitterness, our spite…

Deliver us from making choices denying the truth
of what’s good and pure and just…

And deliver us, Lord, from evil that taunts
and haunts our own pride and greed
our selfish desires,
our willful and obstinate minds...

Lead us not into temptation  
but deliver us from evil, Lord:
deliver us into your mercy and grace,
into the peace of your just word,
into the law of your abiding love.   

Deliver us, Lord, to the table of your goodness,
to the meal of your sacrifice,
to your triumph over evil on the arms of the Cross.

Deliver us to your Supper and nourish in us all we need
to grow in your goodness and in your grace.


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