3rd Sunday Year C - Homily 2

Homily 2 - 2010

Australia Day, just around the corner, put me in mind of the song: We are one, but we are many And from all the lands on earth we come. We share a dream and sing with one voice: I am, you are, we are Australian.

In some ways, we struggle to live up to what we sing: to share our dream. There are tensions in our society, with violence often simmering just below the surface. At the moment the media are focussed on the problems confronting Indian students; and we are far from resolving how white Australians stand together with the original inhabitants of our land. And, in addition to those flash points, there is the regular violence, particularly in the larger cities, and often released by alcohol, when night clubs and pubs close up for the night and their patrons come out onto the streets.

We share a dream and sing with one voice: I am, you are, we are Australian.

The song is not all that different from what Paul wrote in his letter to the Christian community in Corinth: Just as a human body, though it is made up of many parts, is a single unit because all these parts, though many, make one body, so it is with Christ. In the one Spirit we were all baptised, Jews as well as Greeks, slaves as well as citizens, and one spirit was given to us all to drink… Now you together are Christ’s body, but each of you is a different part of it.

Even the Church struggles, at times, to live the ideal it preaches. There are tensions in the Church, too.

Respecting difference, otherness, standing in the other’s shoes and seeing things from the other side of the street … listening, rejoicing in the common ground, don’t come naturally. Original sin has made sure that we are all more at home with envy, competition, self-interest and rivalry. We don’t trust easily. We have to learn. We have to be formed. As children we need to be well fathered and well mothered. And as a society, those skills seem often to have been lost.

I don’t think we can love until we have been loved. And it helps if we know that the power that sustains the universe, the rhythm that pervades the whole of life, is, ultimately, love. God is love. We don’t know that instinctively. Instinctively, we fear God.

When elections draw near, politicians of all persuasions are tempted to appeal to our pervasive fears, our insecurity and inability to trust each other. They promise a tougher stance on crime.

That sounds the exact opposite to Jesus’ priorities. He saw himself called to proclaim liberty to captives, and to set prisoners free. But he saw that happening only as people, as individuals and as society, worked at changing themselves. He called for a radical re-orientation – not just more punitive laws, but conversion, change, transformation.

He saw himself anointed to announce what he called The Lord’s year of favour – a new era where people would see clearly the truth of God, the truth of God as reconciler, as forgiver, as lover – but radical, and consistent and unrestricted reconciliation, forgiveness and love. Jesus revealed a God who strains to empower and to motivate us to reconcile, to forgive and to love similarly.

To the extent that we change the whole basis of our interactions, then that truly will be good news for the poor and freedom to the downtrodden. It might even be peace and trust to everyone. If we want to … share a dream and sing with one voice: I am, you are, we are Australian, there is only one hope of succeeding and that is to follow the path of never-ending conversion.