14/15 April 2018

posted 8 Feb 2017, 05:47 by Parish Office   [ updated 26 Apr 2018, 06:26 ]

Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter, Year B (14 & 15/4/18)


Last week I mentioned in passing that we need to make sure that our understanding of right and wrong is grounded in the Word of God, rather than some of the ideas going around in wider society.  Today I’m going to expand on this a bit more, because if we’re not careful we can get ourselves into a bit of a mess, and end up missing out.


One of the sins we can sometimes struggle with is the sin of pride.  Sometimes, pride can be very obvious, when people show off and put others down.  But there can also be a more hidden form of pride as well, when we think that we have all the answers and others don’t know what they are talking about, unless they agree with us, of course.  We become too attached to our own way of thinking, and can’t even begin to think that others might have some useful insights, or corrections, to our way of thinking.  And if we’re not careful, we can extend the same thought process to God.  It can be that we think we know our faith so well that we understand God completely.  Perhaps if we come across something in the Bible or the teaching of the Church that contradicts our ideas, then we still think that we are right and there must be something wrong somewhere with the Scriptures or the Church.  It’s been said that God created us in His own image and likeness, and, ever since, we’ve been trying to pay back the compliment.  When we create in our own minds our own version of God, we end up creating an idol.  The thing about an idol is that it can’t challenge us.  We have control over it, a bit like wooden idols of old, that could be carried around, or put in the cupboard out of the way.  We don’t have that level of control over God!  Rather it’s the other way round.


What’s all this got to do with today’s readings?  Well, all three readings today involve the need to be open to conversion, to allow God to change us.  Perhaps in some ways the most obvious is the second reading:


“We can be sure that we know God only by keeping his commandments.

Anyone who says, ‘I know him’,and does not keep his commandments,

is a liar, refusing to admit the truth.”


Rather strong words, that make an important point:  we are not authentic followers and lovers of God if we follow our own path and go our own way instead.


In the first reading, we see the results of this pattern of behaviour.  Peter tells the people that they are responsible for the death of Jesus.  They are the ones who handed Him over to Pilate to be crucified.  They had their fixed ideas of what God is like and what anyone speaking on His behalf should be like.  Jesus didn’t fit that mould,  and in fact opposed it, so they thought they had to get rid of Him to preverve their own ideas.  Wrong ideas leading to bad actions.  Peter at least has some compassion though.  He says, “Now I know, brothers, that neither you nor your leaders had any idea what you were really doing”, but he still adds that they need to repent.


Then we have the disciples in the Gospel.  They had heard the testimonies of the women who said that he had risen, and had not believed them.  Peter had gone to the tomb, seen the cloths, but not believed (whilst the beloved disciple had).  The disciples who met Jesus on the road to Emmaus had run all the way back and told them about it, and still they hadn’t believed.  Then when Christ appeared to them, they thought they were seeing a ghost.  They had to be woken out of their fixed ideas of what God could and couldn’t do.  And it was a rather pleasant surprise.


God can suprise us in all sorts of different ways.  Sometimes it’s a bit like the song, “I beg you’re pardon.  I never promised you a rose garden.”  Of course, even roses have thorns.  Following Christ involves difficulties and suffering.  But at other times, what seemed to be so difficult is actually not like that at all.  When the Sisters of our parish had a special Mass and celebration in Bloxwich to mark the founding of their order and the many years they have been in this country, it was a Nigerian-style celebration, and there was also plenty of song and dance in the parish hall afterwards.  Someone said to me that it was good to see the sisters being so happy and enjoying themselves, because people can think that following God means being serious all the time and never having any fun, but it’s not like that.


To follow God is a most liberating adventure.  But it means that we have to leave some of our own ideas behind, and go with the flow of the Holy Spirit.  Rather than living life my way, we want to be able to look back over each day and be able to say to God, “I did it Thy way”.