One of the best parts of being a deacon is that I don’t have to prepare a homily each week so I can take my time, read through the readings and spend as much time as I need reflecting on them before I start to put a homily together. So, in much the same way that I usually do, I read through today’s reading a couple of weeks ago and set them aside to give myself time to think about what they were telling me.
After a day or two I went back and re-read them and thought to myself, what am I supposed to do with these readings? These readings are different…at least to me.
- The first reading from Jeremiah we see him being dropped into a well to die because he criticized the wealthy for treating the poor unjustly.
- The Second reading tells us to preserver…don’t be afraid to disagree.
- And, the Gospel doesn’t talk about love and being good to one another. No, the Gospel tells us how Jesus came to bring fire to the earth and how He wishes it was already kindled. He goes on to say that He didn’t come to bring peace, but division…even within our own households.
Three readings: one about torture, another about struggle, and a third about division. How are they tied together? What is the message that is meaningful in today’s world?
I’d like to tell you that after reading them a few times I woke up one morning and thought…That’s it! I know what the message is! But like many things in life it wasn’t that simple. It finally came to me about a week later.
All three of today’s readings tell us something about the struggles that we face in everyday life.
- We don’t always agree with our leaders. – How do we respond?
- When we listen to God and do what we are being called to do we must be focused and strong. – Not just quiet and go with the crowd?
- And, following Jesus may cause division among our friends and within our families. – Do we follow, or keep the peace?
When we start to think about why we face these struggles we see that courage, especially morale courage, the courage to stand up to what we believe in is often in short supply. Too many of us, myself included, often try to keep our heads down and stay out of the way. Let someone else fight the battle.
But is that what Jesus calls us to do? Does Jesus say follow me and all will be easy? I don’t think so.
No, Jesus tells us to follow him and all will be good. That He will take care of us and walk with us always…even through life’s difficulties. He tells us that if we follow Him, He will give us courage and strength in the face of adversity and difficulty. But, He never tells us it is going to be easy.
So, what does this mean for all of us living a nice comfortable life in, or near Clifton Park in 2016?
For starters I think the message of today includes a few things that we need to think about as we go through life. Things like:
- Do I share the Good News of Jesus with everyone I meet?
- Do I welcome the stranger who is in my seat?
- Do I offer a hand when I encounter someone in need?
- Do I, as Father Joe often says, “do the simple things that will bring the Good News to everyone we meet?” (Father reminds us often that evangelization is not hard. We just have to do what Jesus taught us to do.)
- Do I make decisions, and are my actions aligned with Jesus’ message, or do I take the easy way, keep quiet and follow the crowd?
Remember, Jesus may not have promised that life would be easy, but He did promise to be with us always.
Share the good news of the Gospel…even when it is hard or makes you uncomfortable.