Saturday, January 28, 2017

A homily for tomorrow in the US

I didn’t know if I’d be preaching this weekend when I wrote this. Our pastor has been away and won’t return until later today. I just sent him a text message, letting him know that I’d be willing to preach tonight and early tomorrow morning. (I have a meeting with youth leaders at 9 am tomorrow to plan a youth encounter in February.) But I decided to prepare anyway – since the youth and I will have a shorted form of Celebration of the Word. He text messaged me and so I will be preaching tonight and tomorrow. The homily is different, though similar. It can be found here.

As I prayed over the readings, these words came to mind. I don't know that they would be the best homily for people here, but they are what I would like to preach to the assembled Church in the US tomorrow.

Today we have lectionary readings that could't be harder for us to hear.

I knew the Gospel was the Beatitudes in Matthew’s Gospel, but I was not prepared for all the readings.

One verse of the responsorial, Psalm 146, knocked me over:

            …the Lord protects strangers…

I want to stand in front of the people I work with and ask for their forgiveness and for God’s forgiveness for my country. We have sinned

…in [our] thoughts and in [our] words,
in what [we] have done and in what [we] have failed to do…

Demonizing those who are different in our minds and in our speech, we have blasphemed the image of God in the poor, the migrant, the refugee, the Muslim.

We have allowed the construction of walls and the militarization of foreign policy for many years and the president promises more of the same.

We have allowed them to die on the shores of the Mediterranean and in the deserts of the southwest. We have not welcomed the stranger.

There I beseech Blessed Mary the Virgin – who was a refugee with her Son -
and all the angels and saints, to pray for us.

I beseech God to teach us the lesson of the poor of the Lord, those who are poor in spirit, who have the spirit of the poor, those poor who seek the Lord, who “seek justice, seek humility,” as Zephaniah notes in the first reading.

I beseech God to teach us the lesson that Paul learned and tells us in the first chapter of his first letter to the Church in Corinth:

God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise,
God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong,
God chose the lowly and despised of the world,
those who count for nothing,
to reduce to nothing those who are something…

The only way a nation that truly seeks God can be great is not through force of arms; it’s not through building seemingly impenetrable walls (since the walls of Jericho – and of Berlin – came tumbling down.

The way is to live the beatitudes, becoming a people who have the spirit of the poor – a spirit of recognizing our need of God and being grateful for all that God gives us.

We need to become a people who mourn with those who mourn – the victims of war, violence, poverty, racism, and discrimination.

We need to become a people who hunger and thirst for the justice, the righteousness of God – not putting our nation first, but seeking first the Reign, the Kingdom of God.

We need to become a people who are merciful, who open our hearts to those in need and welcome the stranger, the other.

We need to become peacemakers, those who seek real peace, reconciling strangers, working to change the hearts and structures of all – including ourselves – to be open to God.

This all follows from who we are. We are God’s people, first and foremost. Let us act as the People of God.

If we are persecuted, so be it. Then will the Kingdom of Heaven be ours.


The photo is one I took of the Berlin Wall in November 2006.

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