Homily - January 17, 2016

posted Jan 27, 2016, 10:10 AM by Music Director
2nd Sunday O.T. (C)

(Beginning of Week of Prayer For Christian Unity; Anticipation of National Holiday, Martin Luther King; Anticipation of Anniversary of Roe v. Wade)
 
When I was a child I was rather outspoken; you might even say, mouthy.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?  If something didn’t seem right to me, I had no hesitation in saying so; outside of school, that is.  I was not about to EVER take on a nun!
 
It’s one of the reasons I think the good Lord decided to call me to priesthood and the ministry of preaching.  I guess He figured He might as well try to harness this bold instrument and hopefully put it to some good use!
 
That’s why I find it pretty easy to relate to the Old Testament Prophets, who were called to proclaim God’s Word to kingdoms that were not necessarily willing to listen.  I can particularly relate to the words we hear today from Isaiah:  “For Zion’s sake I will not be silent!  For Jerusalem’s sake I will NOT be quiet!”
 
Isaiah was truly a man on a mission in one of the darkest periods of his nation’s history:  the infamous Babylonian Captivity.  That mission:  to restore hope and faith among a devastated and enslaved people who had survived the invasion of their country, the slaughter of family & friends, the sacking of its political and religious capital, and the destruction of the magnificent Temple built by King Solomon during their glory years.
 
We must not underestimate the effect this had on them.  The Temple was not just a place of worship.  To them, it was God’s earthly dwelling.  How could He, the all-powerful, allow it to be destroyed?
 
Prophets had been warning for years that God would withdraw His favor, and therefore His presence among His people, in response to their violation of His commandments.  This was their punishment for their sins of infidelity to their God and their immoral behavior toward each other.
 
Isaiah foresaw that the worst was over.  Now God would deliver them from this calamity.  “No longer shall men call you ‘forsaken’ and your land ‘desolate.’”   God was still their God; they were still His people.  They had suffered enough.
 
Now He would deliver them from their bondage and restore them to their homeland.  Their nation would be rebuilt as God’s delight; its people espoused, married, to Him forever.
 
It’s no wonder, then, that Jesus began to reveal His true self at a wedding.  He did so not simply out of concern for His hosts.  Back then wedding celebrations lasted for days, and to run out of wine would be terribly embarrassing.  But that was His Mother’s worry.
 
In changing water into wine, Jesus revealed power over creation itself, something He would do again and again.  Now His disciples could begin to understand that the man they were following was more than just another wandering holy man; more than even a prophet; more than a man.  We can almost hear them thinking to themselves as they looked in amazement at each other:  “Who is this that He can change water into wine?”
 
“Do whatever He tells you.”  This is Mary’s word not just to the headwaiter, but to His disciples, and to all of us.  It is her word to gasbag politicians, rogue cops, abusive clergy, and drug addicted youth.
 
It is her word to big bankers and wealthy financiers; to racial and religious bigots; to pregnant women, the men who fathered the life within them, and the health professionals who are paid to care for them.  It is her word to families and individuals; to the young and old alike.
 
It is her word to a society that has lost its moral compass, because like Israel before its fall it is a society that has wandered away from the Lord and His commandments; a society that like those ancient Israelites thinks it knows better, thinks it can live without those commandments, thinks it doesn’t need their God.
 
And what is it that He tells us to do?  We hear it in the words of St. Paul today:  to use the gifts we have been given as Jesus used His…Not for selfish gain, not to toot our own horns or stroke our inflated egos like obnoxious presidential contenders duking it out in public forums; but for the COMMON good, as signs that the Kingdom of God is here among us.
Many will do so on this national holiday that honors one of God’s truly devoted servants who sought to more finely tune this nation’s moral compass and extend its promise of liberty, justice and equality to those it had hypocritically denied these unalienable truths.
 
ML King Day has become a day of service, and that’s terrific.  Many will seize the opportunity and embrace that spirit.  But it’s something we need to do more than just on one day.
 
Many might ask, “Why?  What’s in it for me?”  O yes, the almighty ME!
 
If we do whatever He tells us, and use our gifts for the common good, what’s in it for us is a world relieved of pain and fear, violence and destruction; where abundance is shared with the destitute; where the Divine Law, “Love one another” trumps (if you’ll pardon the expression) all others; where people look out for each other, help each other, nurture each other; a world where God is happy to dwell among us.
 
As in the days of Isaiah, this is the time for the world to renew its marriage to its creator.  For His sake and our own, let us not be silent!  Let us rebuild the city of God!
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