Homily MP3 File
How else are we to understand such harsh measures to suddenly, and without warning or consultation, demand that churches reduce the maximum number of people for worship from 250 to 25 in the orange high alert region of Montreal? It takes at least a few weeks for churches to communicate effectively with all of their members. In addition, we could well ask the question: “Are churches in actual fact hot spots for the propagation of the virus?”
All reports indicate that it is in bars and other social centers where people mingle freely that the virus is most quickly propagated. Planned and spontaneous gatherings with no social distancing are also at high risk for spreading the virus that causes the Covid-19 infection. With our safety measures here in church we are quite safe from spreading the virus if any already infected come and don’t know they are carrying the virus. If we have symptoms of infection we all know we must stay home and of course isolate ourselves until the infection is over.
There are many other reasons why we experience trouble in life today. One reason is because of our faith in God. Our God the Creator of the universe is infinitely attractive and fascinating, and people are either drawn to God or else they turn away from God with anger and hatred or simply indifference. This is what happened to Jesus. In today’s Gospel, it is the time when Jesus is coming to the Temple in Jerusalem and will soon be arrested and put to death. The chief priests and elders of the people have hardened their hearts against Jesus and refuse to be impressed or even consider the truth of his words or the wonder of his miracles.
Instead they are obsessed with knowing what authority He claims to have and the origin of his authority. This is because they are convinced that Jesus speaks with authority and that He is a threat to their own authority over the people. Well, they are right. They refuse to consider that it is actually God who invests Jesus with authority and that Jesus is God’s own authority in Person. They refuse to accept that the authority that Jesus exercises is motivated by divine love.
For these and other reasons many people love Jesus and others hate Him. Through the prophet Ezekiel God showed the people how their way of thinking was unfair. God declared that if a good person abandons their goodness and turns to evil and does evil acts, and if they remain in their wickedness; then they will die and be lost. On the other hand if a wicked person has a change of heart and turns away from their evil ways and repents; then they shall not die but live and in this way they shall gain their life also for eternity. Some people don’t like the Lord’s ways because they are attached to their evil ways or to evil desires they keep secret.
The possibility that a good person might change and do evil might frighten us, but this is a warning to us to keep a guard over our hearts and remain vigilant over our words, attitudes, emotions, and behaviours. The Holy Spirit comes to us as God to bring light to our minds, hearts, and spirits and peace to our consciences and bodies. As we welcome the Holy Spirit He opens our minds, hearts, and spirits to Jesus, and it is Jesus who leads us and shows us the way in every moment and situation of our daily living. Jesus fills us with his love and the love of the Father and They show us how to love others in the same way that They love us.
Saint Paul teaches us to make efforts to “be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.”
The Holy Spirit can show us how to become more like Jesus if we are willing to pay close attention to the guidance the Holy Spirit gives us inside our own mind and heart. Let me give you an example. For most of my life since I was a child, I became aware of the ways in which other people were kind and good to me or, in contrast, how they were mean or unkind or rude or unpleasant and so many other ways in which people can be a cause of suffering.
Then, when I was middle aged, I suffered losses when two wonderful young priests who had lived with me were moved and assigned elsewhere. Soon after I suffered another loss when my time ended and I had to leave a parish where we loved one another. Then I found it painful to live with a certain priest and suffered additional grief after the death of my mother and then a year and a half later the death of my father. As a result I suffered a mild clinical depression. As I received treatment, I began to receive hints that it might also be difficult at times for other people to live with me. That possibility had never occurred to me until that moment. For many years I lived my life without thinking what it might be like for others to live with me.
That was a major turning point in my life. The light the Holy Spirit gave me, with the help of doctors and other health professionals and priests and women counsellors, opened a whole new chapter in my life. I was now able to relax in the presence of others and not worry anymore about how other people behave or whether I like their behaviour or not. I was finally able to accept others just as they are, just as God accepts all of us just the way we are. God still offers us divine grace and help to move away from evil and do more good and in this way to grow in our willingness to be loved and our eagerness to love others in the ways they need to be loved.
So let us continue to pray for one another that we might accept the encouragement and grace of the Holy Spirit to open wide our heart, our mind, our spirit and even our body to the presence and the love of God: the Father, + the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us take a few moments in silence to reflect on this Good News spoken to us by the Lord.