Homily – 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time

In reflecting on this past week, many varied, some wonderful, some not so wonderful moments come to mind of which I’d like to mention a few:

  • Monday proved to be an amazing-WOW day as many in this country experienced our earth going dark-as-night at an unlikely time—an hour past noon! The darkness as we all know was due to our moon passing perfectly in front of our sun darkening the earth for over two minutes in some places! This darkness came quickly, not like when the skies darken for a storm—gradually, but immediately, almost forcefully and as quickly as the darkness came—it went, revealing the daylight again. It was a phenomenal experience for me!  Where we were, clouds moved in during the last ten minutes of the display, so we missed seeing the totally darkened orb, but as I reflect on the cloud cover, I am choosing to see that what I saw was what was intended for me—light to darkness to light.

An event such as we experienced on Monday happens in any given place only about every 400 years, so this was a chance in a lifetime for those in the pathway of this terrestrial event.  Of course there were those from this country and around the world who traveled to experience this wonder.

  • As most of you know; we traveled to Kansas City to partake in this event and worked a visit in with our daughter and her family as part of the experience. Our several days in Kansas City at her family’s home were filled with the wonder of a three and a half year old, our grandson, Elliot, talking, talking, almost non-stop, singing, both learned songs and made-up ones to suit his fanciful and beautiful little mind; moods of happiness for the most part and such sadness when at the end of his tired day, he couldn’t do one more thing but had to relent to the wisdom of his parents that it was now time to rest.
  • This week also brought the death of a good friend’s mother—it brought sadness to all who know him because of our love for him as he grieves this significant loss—a time of lightness as he thinks of her and all she meant to him and now a time of darkness as he learns to live his physical life without her. We pray that light will again return as he comes to terms with this loss.
  • The president of these United States put out a statement on Afghanistan this week and among other things, it seems that what he sees as most important is not how many lives are involved, but only whether the U.S. wins the conflict! A time of darkness for this country.

Friends, amidst the wonderful and not so wonderful memories of this week as I recorded them—you have yours; we are confronted with the words of Paul to the Romans, “How unsearchable [are] the ways of God!”  The psalmist proclaims, “Your love is constant forever. Complete the work you have begun.”  All the examples that I have shared are part and parcel of the life that surrounds us—each of us is called to take the “stuff” of our days and make sense of it in the larger picture of our world.  The earth and the wonder of it in our universe which is so immense, and for which we realize, in light of the eclipse on Monday, is something we can’t control, but can only marvel at.

I marveled at the morning song of a child, so sweet, so beautiful and so unaffected by the troubles that our world, so wonderful at one point and so unable to control, in reality, presents to us.  And of course, as I view my grandson and how well he is cared for and loved; I realize that this isn’t true for many in this world.

The death of a significant member of one’s family lets us know how fallible, how vulnerable we are, yet for all those who stand with us in our pain; we are encouraged and can sense the love and care of our universal and good God.

Today’s Scriptures, in both the Old and New Testaments let us know that our God has called us to be wise, to choose wise leaders who will show us the way.  We hear of the “key of David” from the prophet Isaiah, sign and symbol of the gift of leadership.  In the gospel of Matthew, our brother Jesus declares to his first followers that “Whatever you declare bound on earth is declared bound in heaven—whatever loosed on earth is therefore loosed in heaven.”

I think many times these words are interpreted wrongly or at least only partially, especially by those in power, to suggest that, “It can’t be done!”  When in reality this Scripture allows for clear, wise thinking, coupled with prayer and discernment to change one’s thinking as new facts arise to make our Church ever more inclusive, merciful, big-hearted and open-minded—a Church that reacts from the heart first, not just the mind and certainly never makes decisions based on power and control.   Maya Angelou, a woman of our times, now gone home to God, spoke well of leading with the heart.  She said, “I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart; I usually make the right decision.”

Finally, we see the rightness of what I just said, (leading from the heart) when we reflect on the question for all times and places in the lives of Christians, put forth by Jesus in today’s gospel, “Who do people say that I am?”  I think that Jesus wanted to know what effect he was having on the people around him in general; but more importantly, he wanted to know what effect he had on those closest to him, who had for the most part, close relationships with him, whom he had spent days and nights with—whom he regularly ate with—in other words, they knew each other well! He wanted to know, what they really thought and believed about him! “Who do you say that I am?” as opposed to, “Who do people say that I am?” really asks them, asks us, to commit to a relationship with Jesus.

If we believe his words, his actions and have committed ourselves through our confirmations; then we must respond to the words, to the actions and not remain, passive.  People cannot go hungry in our world without our response. Our women and girls must be raised to know that they are equal to the men and boys with whom they share the planet and be given every chance to excel.  Women and men must be accepted for whom they love, whether the loved one is of the opposite sex or the same sex. We must be open to all others striving to find who they are as persons, being good listeners of other’s stories and respecting their truth.  We as a nation must lead with our hearts when we are asked to share our country with immigrants seeking a life that is better, free from war and conflict.  We must embrace the differences we see in our world and uplift all races and cultures and religions, realizing that the differences are what make us great!

This week we were amazed to witness the skies darken for a time at an unlikely moment and equally amazed to see the light return!  Our country is experiencing some dark times now and each of us is charged with striving to help the light return, whether we do that in large or small ways. We each need to do our part!  Amen? Amen!