Homily: Having Courage and Hope in tough times
By Mons. Peter Jeffrey:
This week’s Gospel passage is about Courage and Hope in tough times! In life’s journey we all experience some tough times – we will have our own stories to tell in that regard – for a young person (or perhaps for someone not so young) it may be breaking up with a friend; at this time of the year for students, it may be worry about exams. In the workplace, it may be the challenge of standing up for Christian values when challenged by others.
In the Gospel, Jesus was speaking in apocalyptic imagery of the ‘end time’. He gives assurance “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away”.
This means that despite the troubles we may face at any time, we may rest assured God loves us, He is reaching out to comfort us, and He will strengthen us if – and this is an important IF - we tune in to His presence with us in the journey of life.
In those tough experiences, it is so easy, I find, to be ‘locked up’ in my own concerns and become self-centred. However, it is precisely in those times that God may be inviting us to reach out to others.
As humans, don’t we need others, especially in times of struggle or sadness to really feel or experience God’s embrace? To illustrate that - those who have suffered bereavements will resonate with what I am saying. Friends, other family members, Parishioners often bring Christ’s help to us during tough times.
Perhaps the most significant line in today’s Gospel is at the end “But as for that day or hour” Jesus is speaking about the end of the world as we know it “nobody knows it, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, no one but the Father”. So rather than worrying about when the world will end, it will be much more productive to think about how I am living the gift of each day. My time in the present is a grace.
It is a GIFT – a ‘free’ gift! You may be thinking “Oh, that’ tautology - Nothing I have done or will ever do has earned my own existence; and nothing I will do can guarantee my number of days.
I used to have a very small Bible which was distributed by the Gideon society. On the back cover there splashes of paint showing coloured flowers painted by the artist Pro Hart. Then on the inside of the front cover was his message, “these flowers will one day turn to dust, but the Word of God will last forever”.
Pope Francis has chosen this Sunday to become known as the Sunday of the Poor. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”. When begin to own that, we realise that each day we are recipients of God’s gift of life. We may notice that we begin to look at others also that with new eyes. In his message for this 2nd World Day of the Poor, the Pope asks us to look into our own hearts to see if we recognise those in our communities who are poor, rejected and/or marginalised.
The whole history of salvation from the beginning to the end of the Scriptures is about the Lord who hears the cry of the poor. Growing to recognise that, we may find that each one of us wants to become a genuine instrument of liberation for and bonding with those in need.
Without any blare of trumpets but quietly this is happening in so many ways in and beyond our Parish community. We will become even more effective instruments of God’s liberating love if we are graced with an increasing ability to recognise Christ hidden in those in need.
As we recognise Christ in the bread broken for us in the Eucharist we pray and hope that we will be more ready to love and serve Him present in the most needy.
*This is Monsignor's Homily from the 33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time