Who are you with? Homily for Sunday, January 22, 2017

Readings for Today

Who is it that you cast your lot in with? Is it God? Or is it some person, or group or cause, that relies on your own efforts?  That is the question that is before us today.  Over the past few weeks, we have seen a lot of division.  We have seen people really get mean to each other with terrible words and phrases.  We have just finished a brutal election season, which, even though it seems impossible, seems to get worse and worse.  So, who are you with?

The temptation can be to rely more on our own efforts than to trust in God.  Paul encounters this in the second reading for today.  Some side with him, some side with Apollos, some side with Cephas, or Saint Peter.   But when this happens, there is too much trust in the messenger and not in the message.  We forget that the disciple of Christ is not more important than Christ.  So, who are you with?

The first reading is similar.  In the sections that come before what we heard today, it is King Ahaz who forsakes God and trusts in human political alliances to save his country.  It fails miserably.  The country is taken over, the people are exiled, and it feels like darkness covers the earth.  Rather than listening to God’s message that came through the prophet, Ahaz got scared.  He simply could not trust God.  While he was in a precarious position, he could not place his trust in God.  But God delivered anyway.  Even though Ahaz did not see the great power of God, the people eventually did.  This is what we read about today.

The gospel reminds us that it is in our call by Jesus that we ultimately experience fulfilment.  A very important reminder is needed.  Jesus was Lord before the election, Jesus is Lord now, and Jesus will be Lord.  it is not about what we can do by ourselves.  It is what God does for us.  Open your hearts to be ready for God.  Pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament, find silence in your home, read the Word of God.  In so doing, you become the vehicle of God’s grace and action in the world.

Homily for Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Today’s Readings

Do we long to do the will of God, or not?  Today we are presented with two rather interesting persons who encounter God.  Mary, the Mother of God, and Ahaz, the King of Israel.  Both are presented with unbelievable experiences of faith.  But each responds in an unique way.  For Mary, it is her “may it be done to me according to your word”, the yes she gives to God, but for Ahaz, it is a rejection of God, albeit couched in language that might at first seem quite pious.  Why such different answers?

Perhaps it would be helpful to look at Ahaz, the King.  He reigned at a time when Israel was threatened.  He choose to side with Assyria over the promise of God made to David.  The reason God wants Ahaz to ask for a sign is so he might be convinced that God will be faithful in keeping his promise.  So before Ahaz is the ability to see God offer a sign that will remind him of the powerful promise God made with David, or to trust in something that appears to be more certain, the military power of Assyria.  Ahaz chooses Assyria, and he is doomed.  Ahaz will not ask God for a sign, because he does not want one.

Mary, on the other hand, is open to the uncertainty of the message of the angel Gabriel, because she trusts in God’s word.  She is frightened, but she says yes anyway.  She is willing to be the vehicle for Jesus to come into the world as a human being, not fully understanding or comprehending how this can even be.  She trusts God’s word through the angel, and the Incarnation becomes real.

Today’s readings remind me of the choice Moses set before the people, that of death or of life.  Ahaz, though he probably does not fully realize it has chosen death.  Mary has chosen life.  Today, God places before you the choice of life or death.  What will  you choose?

Homily for Thursday, December 20, 2012

Today’s Readings

Another day, another tremendous sign from God. What if one doesn’t want a sign? What if I avoid the openness that leads to experiencing a sign, because I do not like the implications for my own life? Such was the case with Ahaz in the first reading. At first , it may seem that Ahaz is being especially devotional. He will not test God by demanding a sign. But understanding the situation more completely, we realize Ahaz does not want the sign, because it will represent the need for Ahaz to make different choices in his own life.

Have you had the experience of being afraid to pray that you might know and do God’s will? Are there times when you consider that the will of the Father of Jesus was to let his Son die on the Cross? Every time we pray the Our Father, we pray that God’s will be done. But if you’re like me there are too many times when the only criteria in discerning the will of God is really about discerning my own will.

Mary could have given into such a temptation in today’s gospel. She is asked to bear God’s son, even though she will not have intercourse. She is asked to say yes to God, without fully understanding the implications of her answer. She is asked to become the earthly tabernacle that holds Jesus, without realizing the cost of this in her life.

But not surprisingly, she does not understand how this could even be possible. She certainly cannot know all of the hardship that will come into her life because of her ultimate yes to God. There is a reason that one of the titles of Mary is Our Lady of Sorrows. Her life was hard, and she spent much of her life trying to understand the son of hers. But in the end Mary gives a complete and total answer to God: yes.

One way of looking at Advent is to examine the characters of Advent.  We see those individuals who are outstanding role models, and another set remind us that life is not always as clean as it appears. We do not have a God that does not respect our freedom. This ultimate respect for human freedom is what makes Mary’s answer to the question of the Angel all that more remarkable. She could have said no. But she did not.

The commemoration of the birth of Jesus is not simply about characters on stage. It is a powerful reminder to you and to me that Jesus came for a specific purpose. Jesus came to save us. The great incarnation of Jesus, that great act where God comes one with us, the incarnation we begin to realize in a way beyond even our wildest imaginings just how much God loves us.