Homily Jan. 21, 2018

Can we just think for a minute about our personal and world reality.  What do you and I worry most about? Over what would you and I want to wave a magic wand to make things right?It might be a personal or family issue or one involving your kids or grandkids.  Maybe you worry about a global issue.

I worry about all of these:  a brother in law for whom dialysis is no longer working; a close family whose young father is dying right now of ALS; I worry about the fate of the Dreamers; refugees all over the world; homeless living in cardboard boxes in all of our major US cities; rising sea waters obliterating island homes in the Pacific; vulnerability of the polar bear caused by the shrinking ice cap.  I worry about the vast number of girls in the world that are denied an education.  And mostly I worry that, having come to understand that the Kingdom of God is NOW, I have not personally done enough to address these issues.  It is a worry I hope I never cease having, in fact.

The theme of today’s readings is URGENCY AND PRIORITIES, along with the call to each of us to build the Kingdom of God that is right here right now.

Fr. Nick just returned from 10 days in Melbourne Aust.  He went to visit one of his best friends in the Dominican Order who suffered a massive mental breakdown in early Nov.  Fr. Nick felt a priority and urgency to go and support him even though the trip, in the end, was very costly to his own health aggravating a lower back issue…..why he is sitting through most of this Mass.  His visit  resulted in real and visible healing for Fr. Kevin , because Nick came at just the right time.  The time was not next month, not next year, but NOW.

Jonah was commanded to do something that to him was very disgusting…..to go to a hated place and try to convert the sinners there, people Jonah didn’t even like or care about.  But God was giving him a priority that he expected him to carry out immediately.  So he reluctantly goes and just reads them the riot act.  There is a happy ending to the story —–in spite of Jonah’s bad attitude.  Even the most hardened people change much to Jonah’s surprise and God restores them.  It says God withheld God’s anger, but that is the way the ancient people often saw God as angry. Jesus changed all of that!

In the second reading we see Paul being very passionate about urgency and priorities. And he calls the people to sit up, take notice of the task at hand and get busy.  His message, however,  seems shocking and counter-productive.  Of course   it is important to be married, to mourn, to enjoy life, to buy what we need , to own a home….BUT we can’t lose sight of what is really important.  Let’s not eat any meal ever without reflecting on our responsibility to erase starvation and poverty.  THESE ISSUES CANNOT WAIT.

This urgent time is similar to how our lives would change if a doctor told you or me tomorrow that we had only months or weeks to live.  We would get our house in order.

In the Gospel Jesus calls the fishermen and says the Kingdom is at hand…NOW.  Come, I need you.  I need your gifts, I need your willingness.  They dropped everything and joined Jesus in the mission.

Last week many of us heard Oprah give a passionate speech about the women who are standing together against harassment and abuse.  To the abusers and all bullies she said “Your time is up; your time is up”

It is the command that Jesus expects each of us to utter in the face of all oppressors and obstructionists and anyone keeping people in bondage and suffering of any kind.  “Your time is up, your time is up” because we as a community will not tolerate any of this.

We come together at each Eucharist as a community to enrich our bond with one another and with the Risen Christ.  Our power is the power of love and our strength comes from the joy and enthusiasm we share to face the most daunting of issues of today.  It is our great responsibility but also our great privilege. Let’s do it!