6th Sunday Year A - Homily 2

Homily 2 - 2014

I was watching the News on the ABC last Thursday evening. A distraught woman was being interviewed. Not long before, her son had been murdered just after he had finished junior cricket practice at the Tyabb cricket ground. He had been murdered by his own father, the husband of the woman being interviewed.

The woman was obviously grieving and in shock. But what struck me was her total lack of bitterness, vindictiveness or thirst for revenge. As things turned out, she had herself suffered repeated incidents of domestic violence from the same man. All that she would say was that he had a severe mental illness. She said it with calmness and [at least it seemed to me] with gentleness and compassion. Her attitude, as I read it, affected me deeply. So different from what you see too frequently on TV – people baying for blood, fiercely intent on revenge!  Before jumping up and down, self-righteously witch-hunting for some one to blame, the media and the community would do well simply to pause and to contemplate in silence the response of that woman.

Where did her response come from? I noticed that the lad attended a Christian Community School. Did her compassion come from a heart formed by the heart of Jesus? – the Jesus who said as he hung tortured on the Cross, Father, forgive them, they know not what they do. For me, hers was virtue deeper than that of the scribes and Pharisees, deeper than that of many, if not most, of us Christians … deeper, I wonder, than mine? It is hard to know how I would respond under pressure.  All I know is that, when hurt or contradicted, I easily slide from anger to accusation, perhaps not to the “You fool” or “You renegade” of today’s Gospel, but something equivalent or stronger – if not out loud, at least under my breath.

How do we get to that place of freedom, of responsibility and integrity [illustrated in those three instances in today’s Gospel] to which Jesus urges us? I am not a great advocate of a “Try harder!” morality. It helps to socialise children and adolescents; but it is pretty useless in bringing about deep change and real transformation. Perhaps the question is, How do we learn to love? How do we keep discovering the meaning and the possibilities of love? How do we become consistent?

I think that, for us to love, we need others to love us first – anyone, more than one! But we have to take time and stillness to believe them, and to come to terms with the astounding truth. I think the ultimate freedom comes as I believe that God loves me – as I sink into that love, accept my bewilderment, give up the struggle for independence and finally let it be.

In the meantime, we can keep praying for that distraught, bereft and struggling mother.