18th Sunday in Ordinary Time | August 2, 2020
See today’s readings here. Video recordings of the Sunday evening Mass, where Fr. Brian regularly preaches, are available on Facebook at Delaware Koinonia. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found here: Salesian Sermons
There was a time in which I would listen to this second reading and nod my head vigorously.
That’s right. Nothing will separate me from the love of Christ.
Said with all of the confidence of one who had never really known anguish or distress.
Whose nakedness was always clothed.
Whose hunger and thirst was always sated
Who had never experienced true persecution. Whose life had never been touched by the threat of peril or the sword.
But over the years, as I have had a taste of true anguish and distress. As I have walked beside those who have only ever known persecution, hunger and peril. Whose lives have been shredded by the sword.
I no longer hear this reading so triumphantly.
No, this reading for me is now much more of a desperate plea. Rooted in the hope that this is true.
That the present day sufferings will never break this relationship with God.
Because if they did, what would we do?
If hope was stripped away, what recourse would there be in the face of such pain and loss, such injustice and fear?
If hope was gone, what would give me the strength to keep doing this work. To rise every day and plunge into this tumultuous sea?
I think these questions are the reason why I am drawn to Jesus in this Gospel. For I watch him grappling with the same existential struggle.
This choice to cling to hope even in the face of exhaustion and fear and the overwhelming sense of loss over his cousin’s death.
And trust me, I would have understood if he didn’t.
If he had chosen to walk away from his sense of mission. Withdrawing to that deserted place for good. Away from the crowds who placed their hope in him.
If he had chosen to take care of himself. Ensuring that he was safe and provided for. Surrounded by his family and friends.
If he had given up on God and simply looked out for himself
But he doesn’t, does he.
No, on the contrary, he rises to heal those who had sought him out. Even in his own brokenness, he kept giving. Pouring out life to all those who thirsted.
And then he extended that same call to his disciples.
Inviting them to offer up their own food supplies, carefully stored away to provide for their needs, for the sake of the crowd.
He gave no guarantees that there would be more than enough.
In fact common sense would have told them that by giving away what they had, they would be out of luck. Hungry and thirsty after a long day.
But they gave it anyway.
And in that surrender. That giving. That hoping. A miracle happened.
My friends, I am convinced that these readings are a powerful rebuke to our nation at this moment in our history.
For all too often, we are told the opposite of what the Word proclaims.
We are told that we must protect what we have at all costs.
That prudence dictates that we look after our own interests first.
We are warned that to surrender what we possess will only result in our loss. That we too will be out of luck.
That the wealth we have accumulated is ours to do with as we wish. And though we are saddened by the sufferings of our sisters and brothers, it is ultimately not our problem.
We are told that the systems we possess, no matter how broken, no matter how immoral, must be preserved and defended. Because otherwise, we might lose what we have gained.
When the cries of the oppressed reach out ears, we are told to tune them out. For if we listen to their demands for justice, for rights withheld, for reparations for injuries done. Then we will need to dismantle a hierarchy that so many of us still benefit from, a hierarchy of white supremacy and patriarchy that has remained intact for 400 years. We will need to lay down some of our own privilege and status and opportunities.
But this American Gospel is not the Christian Gospel.
And at the end of the day, we are called to be Christians first.
And so the choice is ours.
Will we too be that people of hope? Clinging to the love of Christ, no matter what powers and principalities are arrayed against us?
Offering up our own loaves and fish, with no guarantee that there will be enough for us?
Laying down our own lives for the sake of the crowds pressing in around us?
Or will we withdraw away to our deserted places. Safe. Comfortable. Barren. Lifeless.
Come to me, says the Lord.
Here I am Lord. I come to do your will.
May God be Praised.