20th Sunday Year C - Homily 4

Homily 4 - 2019

Today’s Gospel is unexpectedly and surprisingly topical. The result of Cardinal Pell’s Appeal will be known on Wednesday next week. That, along with recent discussion about the seal of the sacrament of confession, has opened wounds and served to make bishops and priests as a group objects of a lot of anger and division within the community. It has also made you all open to stated or unstated criticism and misunderstanding by close neighbours and work-mates.

It seems to me that most people have already made up their minds about the guilt or innocence of Cardinal Pell; and the result of the Appeal will not change their conclusions but serve only to increase the intensity of their emotional reactions.

All the goings-on have also no doubt unsettled, angered or confused you too. Sadly, the general negativity within the community is due far more to the Church’s unfaithfulness to Christ than to its faithfulness. How long before we bounce back? Still, This is the world in which we live. This is reality. It is the world of real people, whose faces are familiar and whose names we know.

Yet ours is a world of equally real people whose lives we know about only from what we see and hear through our media. This is also the world where we work out our destiny, where we develop our capacity to love – or not, the earth to which Jesus came to cast fire of love, that takes shape as respect, cooperation and care for each other. Globalisation has ensured that people even on the other side of the world are now our neighbours. How they live affects us; how we live affects them. Like it or not, we have become responsible for each other. But why would we not like it?

On Friday night I was watching the TV news, reporting on the recent meeting of heads of government of the nations of the Pacific. Unanimously they lamented that, as the temperature around the globe was slowly warming, the rising sea levels in the Pacific had begun to encroach on their islands, making their inhabitants increasingly landless and homeless. One of the heads of government, I believe, was actually weeping. “Weakness? or Strength of character?” I thought to myself.

Together they asked our Prime Minister to reduce Australia’s mining, selling and burning of coal that contributes to the world’s warming. His response was to claim that reducing the amount we contribute would not solve their predicament. Besides, it would probably cost us something. To me, it sounded very much like the excuse of Cain, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Where Jesus speaks cooperation, so often his message provokes predictable push back.

Singly, the effect of any one of us on the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is minimal. Together as a nation, however, our contribution is significant. As only one of the nations of the industrialised West, Australia’s effect is limited; but together, we are strangling our world. We can no longer consider ourselves as single, unconnected units. We need to open our minds and our hearts. We need a different mind-set. We have become citizens of the global village – where we must each pull our weight together. As a little child matures over time from being absorbed with individual need to accept its place responsibly within the family, so personal interest in a civilized society gives way to the common good and to the national interest. As civilizations mature in an increasingly internationalized world, nations must learn to cooperate together in the global interest. National political leaders need to grow up and become international statesmen. We have all become citizens of the world, no longer simply of an isolated nation-state.

It was two thousand years ago that Jesus' call to love began to arouse push back - not peace on earth ... but rather division. You would think that over two thousand years we would have grown up somewhat and learnt something. Thank God, some people have. We need to remind ourselves that wonderful people are around.The stakes now are survival.