Monday, April 22, 2013

Homily - "We are in His hand"

One of our seniors who is from the Boston area wrote a reflection on last week's events. I want to read it to you because her words are better than anything I would say:

“I couldn’t wrap my head around what happened at the finish line of the Boston Marathon Monday. I heard the word explosion, and I think I assumed it was some type of mechanical issue. Not something planned. Not something designed to harm. Not something evil.

The more I read, the more I saw, the more sadness and confusion I felt. I reached out to those I knew were there running, watching, or working. After a long day of uncertainty, I found out those I know were okay. Undoubtedly shaken, but okay.

As the day went on, I began to hear more stories of the day’s positive moments.

And that’s what I’ve been trying to focus on. Not the violence. Not the chaos. Not the terror. Not the bad, but the good.

All goodness is a gift, and perhaps this gift holds the greatest weight in the face of a tragedy like this. Because even when our own brokenness results in events such as these, God provides the good.

He provides the good in the form of the first responders and all those lending a hand on the ground. He provides the good in the form of the city residents who opened their homes to runners whose hotels were shut down. He provides the good in the form of generous financial contributions to the cause.

He provides the good in the form of doctors and nurses caring for the wounded. He provides the good in the form of the marathon runners who continued to run past the finish line to give blood.

He provides the good in the form of the faithful around the world offering their prayers. He provides the good in the form of a community of college Catholics coming together for a vigil, to offer prayers and comfort those among them who claim Boston as their home.

And yes, He provides the good in the form of the New York Yankees, as well as teams from around Major League Baseball, playing ‘Sweet Caroline’ during the third inning of Tuesday night’s game to stand in solidarity with the Boston Red Sox.”

She went on to say that she desperately wants to be back home; the best thing she can do is pray. But, as she says, let's focus on the good. Today is "Good Shepherd Sunday". Christ is the Good Shepherd; these are words of one of His sheep. She has heard His voice and she follows Him. She sees the good He has done in the midst of evil. Others will ask, 'how can there be a God when there is so much evil in the world?' We ask, 'how can there be so much good in the world if there is no God?'

Christ the Good Shepherd protects us. He is the guardian of our souls. We hear it a few times in today's readings that He gives us eternal life. He says it in the Gospel. In the first reading we hear that "those who were predestined for eternal life came to believe". If we believe and follow Him, we are in his Hand. "No one can take them out of my one can take them out if the Father's hand". We are in the hand of the Good Shepherd. He protects our souls. He promises us eternal life.

The Good Shepherd leads us to what is good. He wants what's best for us. A true shepherd always leads his sheep to what is good. That is his job. For the Good Shepherd, the sheep are His whole life. Christ laid down His life for his sheep! If we hear His voice, we hear Him leading us to what is good. The readings today talk about hearing the word of God. "The whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord". The whole city heard the voice of the Good Shepherd! "The word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region". And, the result? "The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit".

We are filled with joy and the Holy Spirit because we hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and believe that our souls are protected by Him. He will give us eternal life. It's not that we don't care about violence or chaos…or terror....or bad in Boston or Texas or China. Of course we do. But, "our citizenship is in heaven". Even when we are confronted with evil - and evil is all around us - whether it's moral evil or natural evil or physical evil, we know that we are protected by our shepherd. It’s like what a philosopher once said: “the problems ahead of us are never as great as the Power behind us”.  God is behind us.  He will protect us.  He is the guardian of our souls and He will give us eternal life.

Finally, we hear specifically from the voice of the Lord that we have eternal life in the Eucharist. All last week in the daily Mass readings, we heard from John 6 (my favorite chapter in Scripture). Jesus says specifically that "whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life...and will live forever". We hear His voice and believe that we will never perish. We are his people, the sheep of His flock. We are in His hand, and no one can take us out of His hand. No one can take us out of the hand of the Father.

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