7th / 8th September 2019

posted 9 Sept 2019, 02:16 by Parish Office

Homily for the Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C

(7 & 8/9/19)


Next week is Home Mission Sunday, when we focus, as the title implies, on our work of mission here on home turf.  I’ll say a bit more about mission next week, but I want to say a bit about it this week, as the readings today also lead us in that direction.


Suppose you are speaking to someone who has never been brought up in any faith, but is curious about the whole idea of God and religion.  Where do you start?  Well, as an outline, I would say that one approach would to be begin with reason, then move to God’s revelation, and then move to commitment.


First:  reason.  How do we know there is a God?  Various arguments have been put forward over the years, both for and against.  Some of the arguments you can work out for yourself.  Let’s use a bit of science and a bit of reason.  Back when I was a student studying chemistry at the University of York, we used to spend two days a week in the labs.  One one occasion, my round-bottomed flask went missing.  So I went to the serving hatch and asked for another one.  I said to the lady behind the hatch:  “my round-bottomed flask disappeared!”  Perhaps with a hint of humour she said, “Flasks don’t just disappear!”  She was right.  It wasn’t just there one moment, and then suddenly, bing, it was gone.  Someone had taken it.  Let’s reverse the process.  Did the world, and the whole universe, suddenly, one day, just appear?  One moment there was nothing, and then, with no reason or cause, bing, it just appeared?  What do you think?  Surely it makes more sense that something, or perhaps, Someone, caused it to appear.  Scientists have said that everything came into being with the Big Bang.  If so, what caused the Big Bang to take place?  If there’s a bomb in the room and it goes off, the bomb didn’t just appear by itself.  Someone made it and someone put it there.  And what’s interesting about the Big Bang theory, or one of the things that is interesting about it, is that it says that when the Big Bang took place, it wasn’t just that the stars and planets were formed, but that space and time came into being at the same time.  In a sense, everything we know in the this world came into being.  Before that, there was nothing.  As we read that the very beginning of the Book of Genesis (1:1):  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”


Okay, so now we seem to have reasoned our way to the existence of some sort of a God, but what is this God like?  We can use reason further to come up with ideas of what He might be like, but how can we know that our ideas are correct?  That’s where God’s revelation comes in.  The first reading said, “It is hard enough for us to work out what is on earth, laborious to know what lies within our reach; who, then, can discover what is in the heavens?  As for your intention, who could have learnt it, had you not granted Wisdom, and sent your holy spirit from above?”  There is, of course, the question of which religion to go for.  Perhaps if you look at different religions you might be able to quickly cross off a few.  A Franciscan brother once said that when he was investigating religions, he looked at Hinduism, but he found the part animal, part human gods a bit difficult to get his head around.  He found that the idea of God becoming one of us as Jesus a lot easier to relate to.


I’ll skip on a bit.  So let’s assume that we’ve decided to follow the Catholic faith, or at least investigate it.  There is a lot in the Gospels to correct any misconceptions we might have about God.  We can learn from the Jewish authorities, who thought they knew about God but had it wrong in all sorts of ways.  And then, once we get to know God through God’s revelation given to us through the Catholic faith, we then have to make a decision:   do I want to follow Him?  In the Gospel today, Jesus tells us to look carefully before making our commitment.  It’s not going to be an easy ride.  As the song goes, “I beg your pardon.  I never promised you a rose garden.”  We have to take up our cross and follow Him.


But being a Christian, a Catholic, isn’t only suffering.  We had those wonderful words in the psalm today, “In the morning, fill us with your love; we shall exult and rejoice all our days”.  I would say that committing yourself to God is a bit like a marriage.  When a couple exchange their marriage vows, they recognise within those very vows that there will be both good times and bad:  “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish till death do us part”.  The same is true of our commitment to God:  it’s a no-matter-what-happens-I-will-always-follow-You commitment.  It may not be a bed of roses, but it’s worth it.


To sum up then:  how do we explain our faith?  One way is to first use reason, then God’s revelation, and finally explore commitment.  There are other ways too.  Next Sunday is Home Mission Sunday.  Time to put theory into action.