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Homily – Respect Life Sunday 2010 (January 24, 2010)

February 17, 2010

The audio differs a bit from the printed page; you may actually want to listen to this one.

The Kingdom of God is At Hand? 

There is a lot going on in the world right now, isn’t there?  Our country has been at war for almost eight years.  Our economy is still struggling to recover from some very bad times, and millions are still out of work.  Eleven days ago, an earthquake virtually destroyed an entire city, leaving tens of thousands of people dead, and well over a million people homeless. 

So…we’re supposed to believe that the Kingdom of God is at hand?  When we look around at the world, when we watch the news and see the suffering that is present, we can get the idea that things are literally going to hell.  When we feel the constraints of limitations on our religious expression at work, at school, and in the public arena, we might be tempted to believe that the world is coming apart at the seams:  God forbid that we utter a prayer in any place that might be overheard by someone who doesn’t share our belief in a Higher Power!

But yet…Jesus announced that the Kingdom of God is at hand!  And we know Jesus is no fool, so… what? How are we supposed to reconcile what we see…with what we know?

Today’s readings help us some.  The first reading, from Nehemiah, describes how the people of Israel stood before the gate of Jerusalem and listened to the Law being read aloud.  Their joy at hearing the Law proclaimed and explained …made them cry!  But Ezra instructed them to go and throw a party, because it was the Day of the Lord!  He wanted them to realize that what they were hearing was a cause for celebration!

In the Gospel reading, Jesus shocks the people of his hometown as he starts his ministry.  He reads from the book of Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor.”  Jesus was announcing that He had arrived, and that the Kingdom was now at hand!

What a shocking statement to make in front of a bunch of people who have known you since birth!  But Jesus proceeded to prove what he was saying:  He went out to captives of sin; he restored sight to the blind! And ultimately, He set all the oppressed free, through His death on the Cross!  Jesus talked about the Kingdom of God being at hand…then He went out and made it happen!


 

I noted that there was an awful lot going on in the world that seemed to contradict this Kingdom of God thing.  And if we just look at the surface, we could despair.  There is a lot of pain and suffering in the world; there are wars, and economic turmoil, and natural disasters.  But…look beneath the surface!

 Sure, there is a war; but look at the work our brave soldiers, sailors and airmen are doing in the lives of the people affected by those wars!  They are working to keep the civilian population safe, and to improve their lives, even as they try to root out the evil-doers in their midst!  Yes, there is economic disaster; but look at the people stepping up to help those most affected by the times!  From food pantries to networking groups, churches in our city and around the country are working to help those who cannot get by on their own, and who need help.

And watch the news coming out of Haiti!  People from all over the world have donated hundreds of millions of dollars; individuals and corporations have shipped ton upon ton of supplies; people have literally put their lives on hold, dropped everything and gone to Port-au-Prince to try to make a difference in the lives of the people affected by the earthquake. 

These people are the Kingdom of God at hand in all of these disasters!  This is why we can proudly proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand!

 

But there is one area in which, just maybe, there is more prophetic work to be done.  This past Friday marked the 36th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe V. Wade, a decision which has led to almost 50 million unborn children never seeing the light.  Talk about something working against the Kingdom! And yes, it is a shame.

But as sad and wrong as those statistics are, I am not going to talk about them; I’d like to talk about us.  I read a commentary this week by Sr. Bernadette Reis, FSP, in which some tough questions were asked. Essentially, Sister’s point was this:  Are we just mouthpieces for the Church’s teaching on abortion, running around talking about how evil it, and how it carries the penalty of automatic excommunication…or are we actively addressing the things that push women into abortion clinics?

Are we just protesting outside clinics…or are we offering to take in women in crisis pregnancies?  And I am sure we are all for supporting abortion alternatives…but have we considered opening our doors, and our wallets to ensure women who need our help really do have an alternative to abortion?

Maybe it’s time for the People of God to stand up, take stock, and step out into the streets, to proclaim with our lives that the Kingdom of God really is at hand…in our lives, and in the lives we touch!

 

I asked how we are supposed to reconcile what we see in the world…with what we know to be true.  Here’s how we do it:  We quit talking about what we know, and we go out and do something about it! 

Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom didn’t happen in a vacuum.  And He didn’t say all that pretty stuff just to impress somebody; Jesus immediately got up, got out, and started making His kingdom a reality on the ground He walked.  He liberated captives, gave sight to the blind, and freed the oppressed; And He continues to do it today, through His body, the ChurchAll of us are parts of His body; we all share the responsibility to do His work in the world.

We see Christ at work in his Church every time there is a problem or a hardship in the world.  We make the Kingdom of God present every time we extend a hand to a neighbor in need.

Christ is counting on us.  How can we help make His kingdom more apparent in the world?

Whose life can we change, by standing up, and stepping out for the Kingdom of God?

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From → Commentary, Homilies

One Comment
  1. Well said, Deacon. Great Homily. You need to let me publish this homily on CatholicDestination.com. Let me know if you are interested.

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