4th Sunday of Easter C - Homily 4

 Homily 4 - 2019

If we have been watching our TV screens, we are well aware that this weekend is Mothers Day, Megan and Harry have had a baby son, and also there is a Federal Election next Saturday. And if we listened carefully to the Gospel Reading this weekend, we would have heard Jesus claiming right at the start that “my sheep listen to my voice, and they follow me, and I give them eternal life”. Jesus’ interest, of course, is that we live life to the full, cooperatively, that we become truly human, together.

I think that Jesus’ comments are particularly timely and relevant to next Saturday’s Election. Each election gives us citizens a very limited, though also very real, opportunity to determine how the wealth and welfare of the Commonwealth to which we all contribute in multiple ways will be divided up and put to use. We give considerable power to the candidates we vote for and the political parties to which most belong, to represent us; and their decisions will affect, often quite deeply, the complicated social, economic and legal web of relationships that make us precisely a common wealth.

Governing comes under the general umbrella of what we call distributive justice, and hence is a matter of morality, of conscience. The candidate we choose to represent us becomes then also a question of conscience for us. Whose voice shall we listen to? According to Jesus, apparently, our following him is a factor of how carefully we “listen to his voice” quietly whispering within us, deep in our conscience.

I want to mention a few priorities that arise, not from my political loyalties [I hardly have any left these days], but from the way I see God.

At the end of today’s passage, Jesus said, “The Father and I are one”. That was true of him, of course, in a quite unique way. But in a different way, it is also true of us, all of us. God is creating me right now. God is creating you right now. God gifts us with existence. If we are anything at all, in one sense, we are God – ‘The Father and I’, and you, “are one”. It is not just we humans. Every electron, every neutron and proton within every single atom, and the energies keeping them whirling around yet holding together, are being created at this moment by God. The world is God’s. The world is God!

God has given us a certain responsibility for the world, as the Book of Genesis so poetically expressed it – “to cultivate and tend it”. But we are suffocating it and raping it – right now – and the world is going mad, slowly but inexorably; and sometimes it seems that so are we.

We are a commonwealth, and are proud of that, but we are intrinsically a part of the wider world, too, that is becoming more and more tightly interwoven. I am distressed that in the lead-up to the election so little has been said about our quite gratuitous cruelty to asylum seekers interned on Manus Island and Nauru - as Pope Francis said, "We have forgotten  how to weep" - but also about human-induced local and global climate change and human-induced pollution - as Pope Francis again has so passionately reminded us. Somehow we don’t draw conclusions from the ever-increasing extremes of droughts and fires, and floods and gales and tsunamis.

This is God’s world, there for our enjoyment [among other things], and we are exploiting it. Sadly, the ones who suffer first are precisely the poor and the powerless.

The electioneering, so far, seems to me about how we arrange the chairs on deck while we are heading full-steam into an iceberg. Well, given the way we are going, we won’t have to worry about those chairs soon. Of course, changing will cost something. It will mean changing our life-styles. Why the surprise?

The Good Shepherd is doing his bit. Shall we simply barrack for him; and, together with so many others, choose to ignore him and the Father he loves? Or shall we, followers of his, “listen to his voice”, as he gently speaks in our conscience?