Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click here: Salesian Sermons
PROTIP: You can take a look at the readings here. This homily focuses on all of this week’s readings.
28th Sunday in Ordinary Time | October 15, 2017
So I must admit, the hardest part of my ministry is seeing young people cry.
Every time a student is in pain, I just want to make that pain go away.
I wish that in an instant I could wipe away what breaks their heart.
That I could turn back time and stop that car.
That I could expel the cancer.
That I could mend the broken relationships.
I wish that I had the answers that would make everything somehow ok.
That I could explain why in the face of abuse and addiction, suicide and depression.
That I could explain why people can be so cruel. Why we judge and bully people simply because they are different.
I wish I could wave my hand and show them that God is there. That they could simply look and see God in power and majesty so that they would know that they are not alone. That none of these forces of darkness and death have the final word.
But these are all wishes my friends.
And I have found that my life does not operate in wishes.
On the contrary, I have found that it takes everything I have to help lead people through their pain.
For tears are not wiped away in an instant. They are gradually wiped away, one moment at a time. As you walk beside someone in grief as you climb the mountain together.
Answers are not given in an instant. They are gradually formulated and wrenched from one’s life experience. And sometime the only conclusion we come to is mystery. As you walk beside someone and listen to their questions, their anger, their confusion. As you hold them in their darkest moments. As you labor beside them up the mountain.
God rarely appear in glory. But God does appear in the flesh. In the people who laugh and cry with you. Who hold you. Who carry you. Who walk beside you up the mountain.
Maybe that is why this 1st Reading is so comforting for me. Because this ideal vision that is presented is only achieved at the summit of the mountain. And it is only there that death is finally defeated. It is only there that every tear gets wiped away.
Which means that first we must climb the mountain.
With its steep ascent that drains our energy.
With its paths that often weave up and down, shrouding us in darkness.
With its ledges in which we can barely cross by ourselves, much less carrying someone else.
And it is in this ascent that we often have those moments in which we are tired.
When we do not feel like we have the strength to do it anymore.
When we do not know how much more we can handle.
We hear the second reading and find ourselves asking Paul. But where do we find this source of strength?
How do we tap into it when we are standing in the midst of a room full of students with faces etched in grief?
How do we tap into it when we are in the hospital listening to the grim news from the mouth of the doctor and her team?
How do we tap into it when the phone does not stop ringing with voices crying out for help?
These were questions I found myself asking this week.
But then, as I paused to write this homily, I began to see the answer. The answer that had been in front of me all along.
For at the end of the 1st reading, we are reminded that God’s hand is on the entire mountain. Which means at every step of the journey, God is with us. Pouring his strength and love into us.
Through the very people we journey beside.
Like the guests at the wedding banquet, we find ourselves offered so many things we did not necessarily envision on our own. We are presented with the cross. We are presented with the difficult journey. But we are also presented with strength without end. We are presented with the love of a God who became flesh and dwells within each one of us.
And like the guests at the banquet, we must decide what to do with the invitation.
For if we are honest with ourselves, we know that we all have our crosses. We all have our share of pain and hardship. We all have been asked to labor up the mountain.
And yet, we all have been given this source of strength. We all have been tasked with helping another bear their load. We all have been recipients of God’s love, experienced in and through our neighbor.
The question is . . . what will we do with it all?
Do we say yes? To the journey, to the mountain, to the cross, to our God who is love?
Or do we cast ourselves outside? Facing our pain and our struggle alone? Refusing to hear the cry of the wounded and wearied at our door?
The choice is always ours my friends. So let us choose to walk this journey together, as sisters and brothers, united in love.
May God be Praised