Homily for October 15

Homily for the Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Scriptures for today's Mass

Audio for homily

Against the backdrop of hurricanes, earthquakes, forest fires
and mass shootings,
I mentioned in my homily last week that some folks are asking,
“Where is God in all of this?
Why doesn’t God do something about all this bad news?”

Since then, I’ve been reminded that some believe
that God is right in the middle of these disasters and calamities,
that God visits disasters upon us
as punishment for the mess we’ve made of the world,
for our being unfaithful to his word and commandments.

That’s a tempting proposition - to blame God for these tragedies,
both the natural and the man-made.

Even the gospel today might lead us to wonder if God,
like the king who gave the wedding feast,
if God picks and chooses who gets into the banquet
and who is banished to the darkness outside;
if God charts the paths of hurricanes
and the fault lines of earthquakes we view
from the safety of our living rooms;
if God chooses to spare hundreds - but not all -
from a sniper’s deadly aim;
if God, with a great huffing and puffing, blows the winds
that feed the fires that ravage forests and neighborhoods?

Is this how we see our God?

Generally speaking - and in better times - we do image God
as powerful - and yet benevolent,
as almighty - and yet merciful,
as high above us - and yet intimately close.
It’s on the bad days, in the hard times,
when no logic can lessen or explain our pain and confusion
it’s then that we’re tempted to make of God an angry disciplinarian,
if not a downright disappointing and heartless bad guy.

And that’s a point many of us might reach more quickly and personally
at the bedside of a loved one in an Intensive Care Unit
than watching the footage of the latest disaster
on television or on YouTube.

Because we believe that God is all-powerful,
that nothing is beyond God’s reach and control,
we find it difficult to understand
why God wouldn’t choose to control everything
- in our favor, for our benefit, and at all times.
If God could do this -- then why is it that God doesn’t do this?

And if you’re thinking that I’m about to tell you
why God doesn’t so intervene in nature and in our lives,
if you’re hoping that you’re about to hear me solve
the mystery and problem of pain and evil in the world -
I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave you disappointed.

I can only tell you what I know and it is this:
• that all creation and life are God’s handiwork;
• that we human beings are the masterpieces of God’s artistry;
• that God graciously and inexplicably desires a relationship with us;
• that since the beginning of time we have chosen, with free will,
to sometimes accept and sometimes turn away from
invitation to friendship;
• and that somehow that rupture between God and us
is the fault line that quakes through all of nature
and in the heart and mind, the body and soul of human suffering.

Should we be at all surprised to discover, more and more,
the connections between our greedy, careless,
selfish, wasteful life styles
and the disintegration and depletion
of the world’s natural resources?

It’s from such vantage point that Christians approach
the problem of evil and the mystery of suffering
in a world made by a perfect God.
God doesn’t visit suffering and death upon us
but  God does allow, God permits,
the rupture of our relationship with the Divine
to play itself out in our suffering
and in the brokenness of creation and its elements.

Yet, God has not left us alone in all of this.
Rather, God has and does visit us in the person of Jesus.
In Christ, God took as his own all that is human:
our body and soul, our pain and loss, our suffering and joy.
Jesus is like us in all things - except in the brokenness of our sins.
And yet, he took our sins upon his own shoulders
and in the brokenness of his body on the Cross
repaired the rupture between God and creation,
between God and all of us.

Jesus, alone, is the answer to the problem of pain,
Jesus, alone, is the solution to the mystery of suffering.
Jesus, alone is our hope, even in our despair.

O God, in our suffering and pain, give us Jesus.
O God, in our doubt and confusion, give us Jesus.
O God, in our brokenness and sorrow, give us Jesus.

In the morning when I rise, give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world but give me Jesus.

And when I am alone, give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world but give me Jesus.

And when I come to die, give me Jesus.
Give me Jesus.
You can have all this world but give me Jesus.


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