14th Sunday Year A - Homily 1

Homily 1 - 2005 

What’s been going on the world this week?  Well, what’s been on the TV news, and in our newspapers?  Tens of thousands of workers took to the streets to protest at projected industrial relations legislation – fearful of unemployment, reduced wages, and reduced working conditions.  Bob Geldof is gearing up with musical celebrities around the world to direct the attention of the world to the G8 Summit meeting to take place near Edinburgh on Wednesday.  He hopes to shame the wealthy nations into reducing the obscene burden of debt of the world’s poverty stricken peoples particularly of Africa.  Aboriginal people around Australia are beginning a week celebrating their survival and the good things of their culture, (despite their recent history and their general marginalisation), and they are continuing to call us more recent arrivals to genuine interracial and intercultural reconciliation.  Mind you, some of these issues only make page 2 of the national dailies.  Page 1 is focussed on Shane Warne and his marital problems, the aussie cricketers or Leyton Hewitt’s lost tennis match at Wimbledon.

What’s going on?  Well, I suppose it’s saying that there is too much pain and suffering going on in our world; there is fear; there is a lot of anger, some of it apparently very close to the surface, some of it simmering in the deeper levels of our communal and individual psyches.  Perhaps it saying, too, that we don’t want really to face the truth, and so need frantically to distract ourselves.

Two thousand years ago, one of the friends of Jesus, a man named John, understood that God was appalled by the distress of the world at that time; God was so moved by love that he intervened in the hope of bringing about change – respecting always, of course, the freedom of the creatures he loved.  He wouldn’t impose happiness – he couldn’t impose happiness – but he did invite, and clarified the issues.  He sent his Son so that all who believed in him, all who trusted him, all who adopted his vision and lifestyle, might find life, life to the full.  Learn from me, his Son said.  Well, he lived about 34 years, and then they killed him.

So, God sort of adjusted, continued to be distressed, and continued to love his world.  Still does.  In fact, God so loves our world today that he sends the followers of Jesus, us, so that all who believe us, who trust us, who adopt our vision and approach, might have life, life to the full.  Like Jesus, we say: Learn from us [who, like Jesus] are gentle and humble of heart.

And what does our world say?  Get real! That might be OK from behind your own front fence to as far as your back fence, but not in business, industrial relations, international trade, not even in professional sport.  Competition is the name of the game! Get strong or get out! Make as big a profit as you can, or go under! Cut up the cake, and take as big a slice as you can get away with! And God help you if you don’t! 

And that is precisely what God is trying to do.  Is the world’s way working? Mounting anger, not yet violence, on the streets of our capital cities.  On the international stage, on the one hand, we see frightening poverty and suffering: 11 million children under the age of five die every year from preventable causes (that means 30,000 every day).  Just under another 30,000 adults die each day from hunger and preventable diseases.  The combined wealth of the world’s three richest people is greater than the gross domestic product of the poorest 48 nations of the world.  On the other hand, our world lives with the fear of terrorism, fear of the spread of nuclear capability to destroy the world, and simply of escalating war.

Even in regard to our own Aboriginal people, forty years ago in Alice Springs, Pope John Paul II said to them: ... the Church in Australia will not be the Church that Jesus wants her to be until you have made your contribution to her life and until that contribution has been joyfully received by others.  Did he come from another planet?  Or did he know something we’ve missed?  And are we still missing out?  This coming NAIDOC week might give us the opportunity to reflect on what he meant.

What if Jesus is right?  Take up my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.  It’s a bit confronting, isn’t it.