Homily – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Once again this week, we hear Jesus saying, “In your hearing, the Scriptures are fulfilled.”  We can only imagine what that was like for his family, friends and acquaintances to hear.  There was no doubt jealousy on the parts of some, hatred even on the parts of others—how can this be?—they more than likely asked. We have known him all our lives—we know where he came from? A good man perhaps, but not the Messiah! And when one thinks about it—who of us ever can totally know another?  After 46 years of marriage, I know quite a lot about Robert, but not all!

What indeed was it like for his mother to hear these words?  Were his words something that once again she, “treasured in her heart?”—for she and Joseph carried throughout his growing years and into adulthood the knowledge of the special way that he came into their lives.  How does one ever convey a miracle?  How do any of us ever adequately make known what God has done within our lives and not seem pompous, arrogant, or simply, self-serving?

Jesus probably knew the answer best and conveyed that to all who would listen to his words, then and down through history. “You will know them by watching their actions,”  he was known to have said.  The section that comes just before today’s text spoke of there being a new time when the blind would see, the deaf would hear, those in prison would be set free and so on; so even though Jesus’ neighbors and acquaintances couldn’t see past his words, rejecting him, it would be the wider “village” who would see his actions and make the connections. As an aside, it is interesting to think about the fact that in order for a miracle to be seen, belief is part of the equation.

But going back to the rejection piece—in our own lives; we know that rejection is part of the day to day.  The same human qualities demonstrated in Jesus’ time that got in the way of him being clearly heard and understood about who he was, what God had called him to do and be, will plague us as well when we try to be who God has called us to be.

Jeremiah the prophet, a forerunner to Jesus spoke the words that would comfort our brother and us in those times of rejection, misunderstanding and lack of acceptance. The prophet said, “They will fight against you, but will not overcome you!”

It would seem that truth and truth-telling was a great deal of what Jesus’ mission on earth was all about.  First, and foremost, he wanted us to know of Abba God’s desire that each of us would know that we are loved.  This was the one over-riding message he wished to convey throughout his entire earthly life—we are loved by God and God asks that we love in return.  Pretty simple concept—but perhaps not so simple though, in living out.

Paul, in his well-known selection today to the Corinthians, used at many weddings, says well what our “loving” should be about.  If we were to say it simply, in a few words; the message of this beautiful reading, a piece that all committed couples would do well to reflect on each year of their married lives, it would be, “without love, we are nothing!”  We can do every good deed out there, but if love isn’t behind the action, it is nothing!

So, what is love?  Paul says that it is being patient and that there can be no limit to our patience.  Love, he continues, is kind; not jealous, not putting on airs, not being a snob.  Love, he says, is never rude or self-seeking and is not prone to anger. Love does not brood over injuries and it does not rejoice in what is wrong, but rejoices in the truth.

I read an editorial from the staff of the National Catholic Reporter recently that was basically decrying the untruths coming from the commander-in-chief of our United States with regard to the made-up crisis on our southern border.  This made-up crisis is adding to the growing national unease, the author stated.  The bishop of El Paso, Texas, Mark Seitz, shed some light on this situation and seemingly, some truth too when he said, [the border can seem] “a place where one reality ends and another begins…For us it’s a place of passage; it’s a place of encounter; it’s a place you cross in order to join your family; it’s not this place of armies confronting one another.”

I applaud this man of God for his willingness to speak the truth as given him by God—would that more of his brother bishops would do the same! The times in which we live call for more than one issue people who see so narrowly what constitutes life.  To embrace the self-serving lies and deceit of a man in power who promises life to the unborn, yet is willing to snatch it away from immigrants seeking a better life, from women that he sees as mere objects and from the earth that we all call home by refusing to care for and protect it from global warming is, at the least, tragic and at the worst, criminal.

So, my friends, it is all about love.  Love is the only law that any of us ever need remember when we come up against the question of what is the right thing to do.  If love is served, than right is too!  Paul says, “Love never fails.”  How much better would be our world if more people, whether in Church or State applied the law of love in all its wonderful manifestations to their daily dealings with others?

Paul concludes his piece on love by saying that love trusts, love has hope—which is something, by the way, that we all need to hold onto in these uneasy times. Sister Joan Chittister says it like this: “Life is not one long party. That’s exactly why parties are so important.  They remind us of God’s eternal goodness.  They help us to remember on difficult days that the sun of the heart will surely rise again for us.” She is surely a prophet!  And finally, Paul says—“Love has the power to endure.”

This again brings us back to the prophetic words of Jesus in his home town synagogue: “Today, in your hearing, these Scriptures are fulfilled!”  My friends, it isn’t enough that people saw Jesus doing the loving thing once in time, even if it got him into trouble: our world now continues to need to see, through us, Jesus doing the loving thing, even if it gets us into trouble! Amen? Amen!