Archive for the ‘12th Sunday’ Category

Self-Inflicted 6-25-2017

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

There is an old folk tale that in late summer a rattlesnake sheds his old skin and a new one takes its place. It is believed that, during this time, the snake remains immobile and blind. At the slightest movement near it, the snake strikes out in its blindness, directing its attack by the sense of sound. If some object touches its body, the snake, in its panic, strikes the spot that has been touched, releasing into its own body the deadly poison carried in its fangs. The result is death. In its fear and panic, in its not knowing in its inability to see, the snake destroys itself.
This old folk tale is an apt metaphor for our own fears of change, our own struggles to make sense of a constantly evolving world. Too often we allow our fears to slowly kill our hope, our enthusiasm, our spirit. We desperately fear and strike out at whatever we don’t understand, at whatever seems to overturn the life we have grown comfortable with, at whatever threatens the vision of the world we have concocted that enables us to make some sense of life. We become the servants of our fears rather than the masters of our lives: the threat of disaster always manages to push aside the possibility for goodness, joy, justice and reconciliation. Three times in today’s Gospel, however, Jesus tells his disciples not to be afraid, that we have nothing to fear before God who has proven his love for us reservedly. Christ calls us to embrace a vision of hope that is the opposite of fear—hope that overcomes our uncertainty of the unknown with the certainty of God’s love, hope that transforms the Good Fridays of our lives into Easter resurrection.


Sunday, June 19th, 2016

Sometimes you have to struggle with a scripture to get something out of it. When I first read today’s Gospel early this week, to start thinking about a homily, I drew an absolute blank. Nothing came. That says more about me than it does about the scripture. I finally decided it might help to focus in on just one part of it. So I zeroed in on the part where Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” All of a sudden, three really strong responses came to me from that part of the Gospel.
First, I was really touched. The passage really shows the humanness of Jesus. After all, it’s the most human thing in the world to wonder what people think of you. Psychologists say that when you walk into a group, any group—a club, a meeting, a class, a parish—the foremost question in your heart is “Will this group accept me?” And of course Jesus, if he really is a human being, had a desire to be appreciated, to be liked and respected. And so he asked, out loud, to his friends, a sort of sensitive question that maybe you’ve often felt like asking your friends, “What do you really think of me?” “Who do you say that I am?”
I was touched by how very human Jesus is, and second, I was disappointed. I was disappointed that he had to ask. I mean, he’d lived for months and months on the closest possible terms with these people and he had to ask, “Well, do you like me?” “What do you think of me”? “Am I O.K.?” I’m disappointed that the apostles were so stingy with feedback, so unexpressive, so uncommunicative, that Jesus finally had to just ask them.
My final response to the reading was, I was challenged. There are lots of people that I respect, or like, or admire, and there are some that I deeply, deeply love. How good have I been about letting them know? How have I mentioned to friends or family lately what I admire about them, or respect about them, or like about them.
Do you know where you can find the most beautiful compliments in the world? In a funeral parlor. Yes, in a funeral parlor, when it’s too late for the dead person to hear them. Children and relatives and friends of the deceased often gather, perhaps feel a little guilty about not expressing love more openly before and say the most wonderful things.
Why wait so long? God has been absolutely lavish in expressing love and respect, esteem and concern for us. In God’s name, let’s not be stingy in communicating love and respect and esteem and concern to each other.