32nd Sunday Year A - Homily 2

Homily 2 – 2011 

It’s an interesting Gospel today.  How do we hear it?  as a warning? or as an invitation?  One way or the other, it is a reminder not to miss out on the fun – the fun of the wedding celebration.  Well, perhaps “fun” is not quite the word – it doesn’t say enough.  We all like a bit of fun… but we all want immeasurably more.  Like it and all as we do, we’re “hard-wired” for more than fun.

Here, the image of the wedding is not all that irrelevant.  The ones who enjoy the wedding most are the bride and the groom - just embarking on their new adventure of love.  I think our deepest longings are for love – to be loved and, perhaps especially, to love: to receive it, and, even more, to give it.  I believe that we are all “hard-wired” for it because, from the wonderful fact of having been created, we carry within us the image, the imprint, of God.  And, for us Christians, through our baptism, we bear the likeness of the crucified and risen Christ.  We have been christened, Christed.  As we know, God is love; and Jesus is the revelation of that love, and the embodiment and bearer of it.

Our adventure into the limitless mystery of love began at birth and upped its tempo at baptism.  Love has been our life’s meaning and purpose ever since.  Wonderfully, the journey will never finish.  With our death, time opens out into eternity; and the adventure of love takes off again with an intensity and breadth beyond our present capacity even to comprehend.  It’s a great thought!

According to today’s Second Reading, Paul’s early converts at Thessalonica had mistakenly assumed that the risen Christ would soon return to earth and inaugurate the much-anticipated Kingdom of God.  They worried about the fate of their friends who had died in the meantime, before the arrival of Christ. Would they miss out?  Paul sought to reassure them.  The imagery and the language that he used surprise us.  They were simply the strange, graphic, apocalyptic images and words that the Jewish culture, at that time, was sort of “soaked in”.

But whatever about the irrelevance of the dramatic imagery, Paul’s reassurance was clear.  His bottom-line was: We shall all stay with the Lord forever.  It is not a bad sort of message, as a matter of fact, for this month of November, just after we have celebrated the twin feasts of All Saints Day and All Souls Day.  It’s reassuring to know that, whatever  about the pain of losing loved family members and friends, we shall all, nevertheless, stay with the Lord forever.

But back to the Gospel.  The purpose of the story was mainly to remind us to Stay awake!  or, perhaps better, to stay tuned in, to be in touch with what’s real.  Life – now and in eternity is about loving.  It’s therefore about relationships.  It’s about relationships, not only with God, but other with real people.  The purpose of life now – the sole purpose, really – is to open our hearts, to stretch them – ever more.

That is why people whom we don’t like are important.  They are the ones who challenge us.  They provide the occasion, the need, for the painful stretching.  We struggle; we get tired; we fail – but we can try again, and again.  The secret, I think, is not to rely only on good intentions and will power.  We haven’t the capacity.  God is the energy-source of love.  It all starts there.  We need to let God love us in our failures, when we face our “brick walls”.  We admit our defeats.  But we let God’s love in.  And, to the extent that we do, we find ourselves changing – wanting to change, and increasingly able to change.

Stay awake!  Keep tuned in to what is real.  Let the focus clearly be love, and let the source of it all be God.