Tuesday, October 25, 2016

God of life, not of death - a homily

This morning I presided and preached at a Celebration of the Word with Communion in Pasquingual for the eternal rest of a couple who had been brutally killed with machetes on Sunday. Here is a translation of my notes for the homily. I improvised a bit, taking into account the presence of the mother of the woman and other family members. The readings were Genesis 4: 1-15, Psalm 130, and Luke 23: 26-46.

On behalf of the parish, I would like to extend our condolences to all the family and friends of the couple who have experienced this brutal killing.

Every death brings sadness and tears but these deaths have brought us a deep sadness, many tears, and perhaps some fear.

The first reading tells us how the blood of the Abel cried out to the Lord, rising up to heaven. So too the blood of Hector Ricardo and Maria Pedrina cries out.

In the face of this we have to cry; tears are necessary.

But death is not the final word; the final word is Life – Jesus.

Jesus is not a God who remains distant from human concerns. He became human and suffered a brutal death on the cross. But, even more, he handed over his whole life to give all of us life.

Though Jesus suffered for us, death is not the final word, Jesus, risen, is. He is a Word that is Life, Forgiveness, Reconciliation.

The final word is not a word of death, of vengeance, or even of resignation. It is the Word of New Life.

God does not wish the death of anyone – not of those who have been killed, nor even the death of their killer or killers. In Genesis God puts a special mark on Cain, so that he is not killed.

No to vengeance. Yes to forgiveness. But forgiveness ought to bring a resolution to change, to reconciliation.

We have to put aside the spiral, the cycle of violence and vengeance and begin a new way of living, a life of forgiveness, reconciliation, and solidarity.

Death violence, vengeance have to stop.

And where do they stop, where have they stopped? At the foot fo the Corss.

On the Cross, Jesus broke the spiral of vengeance: “Father, forgive them…” And so Jesus offers us the Life of forgiveness.

Thus, if you have in your heart a desire for vengeance for these terrible killings, leave your desire at the foot of the Cross.

If you are filled with sadness, leave your sadness and tears in the lap of the Virgin Mary, who held the lifeless body of Jesus on her lap after the crucifixion.

If you are afraid, leave your fear in the heart of Jesus, meek and humble of heart.

If the killers are here today and hear my voice, come to the Cross, asking forgiveness and mercy, and converting!

Let us put all at the foot of the Cross.

But let us remember that the final word is Life.

Let us seek reconciliation. Let us seek solidarity. Let us seek forgiveness.

Let us seek forgiveness, but no resignation. Real forgiveness offers us – and offers even the killers – the possibility of living in a different, new way: a life of solidarity, a life of forgiveness, a life of reconciliation, a life of justice.

In the name of God, I call out to you:

Let the violence cease.

Let us cut the spiral of violence.

Let impunity stop.
If there is anyone who knows who are responsible for this crime, denounce them to the authorities. But don’t go alone. Perhaps the whole village should go to provide strength and courage to those who denounce the perpetrators of these and other crimes.

Let us live the solidarity of Christ, who shares our sufferings. Let us aid the family and be with them in this terrible time.

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