We Are the Christ-Bearers

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time | October 6, 2019

See today’s readings here. This homily focuses on the Gospel reading. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found here: Salesian Sermons


So last week, I was wrapping up a conversation with one of my Nativity guys when he goes, “So my older brother got my mom really angry last night.”

    Interest piqued, I take the bait.

“Why?” I asked.

He looked at me and whispers, “He said he doesn’t believe in God.”

He then looks at me expecting me to be scandalized. Frankly, I was just grateful he hadn’t done something illegal. I know, I know. My bar has gotten pretty low over the years.

But then he continues, “Yeah, he just looked at my mom and said, ‘If there was a God, then he would have been there in my worst moments. So tell me mom, where was he?’”

I froze.

For I remember this young man’s worst moment.

For I was there.

See, it was early fall in 2016 and I had been asked to come and anoint his cousin who was dying of skin cancer, despite the fact that he was only in his early thirties.

By the time I arrived, he was already gone. And I felt like I had walked into a nightmare.

His mom was shrieking and fainting in the living room. Dozens of family members were gathered all weeping. No one speaking English.

Despite the fact that the young man was on Hospice, no one had explained to the family what exactly Hospice meant. They thought he was getting better when they sent him home.

        And so, his death hit them like a freight train.  

And in that moment. No one came to their aid. Hospice sent a nurse hours after his death who spoke no Spanish.

The funeral home arrived and spoke no Spanish, gruffly explaining to me that I needed to clear these people out so they could remove the body. They were making a scene.

And the pastor of their parish was nowhere to be seen.

I was so angry.  So frustrated. So drained.

Muddling my way through in broken Spanish.  Holding up this young man and his family, letting them sob into my cotton short sleeve dress shirt in 30 degree weather as the rain whipped against our faces.  

I felt like the prophet of our first reading.

    I felt like my student.

Raging into the sky. Where are you, God? Where are you in the midst of all this pain and suffering? All this violence and loss?

The next day, I am recounting this whole night to my friend. Ending with that same agonizing question. Where was God?

    But instead of sharing in my rage, she looked perplexed.

“Brian,” she said. “God was there. For you were there. You were the face of Christ that they needed.

You just stopped looking in the mirror.”

It was one of the most humbling conversations of my life.

And yet, I believe that in her answer, we are all reminded of a great truth that we are all called to cling to.

Yes, my friends. We are aware of the darkness. We know the pain and loss and suffering that is a part of life.

And yes, all too often, we find ourselves crying out, “Where are you, God?”

But if these Scriptures teach us anything, it is that the answer lies within.

We are the Christ-bearers. We are the reflection of the divine image that the world seeks.

We are given the spirit of power and love.

This is not abstract. YOU are the face of Christ. YOU are God’s compassion. YOU are the healing touch of Christ. You are the divine voice speaking words of liberation. YOU are the light of the world.

So embrace your child when they cry, wrapping them in God’s embrace.

    Listen to your friend’s pain and speak Christ’s words of healing and strength.

Stand watch through the long night of grief with the one who is burying the love of their life, like the divine shepherd we are called to follow.

Speak out against the forces of death that rage among us. Condemn the -isms that shred us apart. Echoing Christ’s prophetic call.

For the kingdom will come my friends.  For we are building it, this blessed and broken, beautiful mess that is the Body of Christ.

May God be Praised.

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