Our gospel tells us today do not let anyone intimidate you. Do not be afraid of anything. Sounds wonderful, but what is the reality? Just take a look at our world, sometimes you just do not want to listen to the news or read the paper. The protests, riots and new COVID numbers and mandates we see on the evening news are filled with tragedies, disappointments and losses. Even in our families some have left the church, switched religions, or just dropped out. It seems sometimes that we are inundated with bad news as a daily diet.
Our newscasts and our papers fill us with endless images of infidelity, war, torture and moral mayhem. Our movies and TV can desensitize us to violence and suffering. So much of our time it feels like we are forced to concentrate on life’s horrors. We may want to repeat the question we find in scripture and ask Jesus what happened to all the good things you promised. Are you the one who is to come or should we look for another?
Didn’t you tell us that we should fear nothing that we are worth more than an entire flock of sparrows? Jesus might reply, you are the victims of too much bad news. Take time to look at the good news, then you will perceive the Kingdom. So where is the good news? Well, right now churches are opened with limited capacity, as we sit here there are countless Catechists in countless parishes letting in the light of the Gospel to our young. Although schools are currently closed our catholic schools endured great hardship in our big cities in educating hundreds of thousands of underprivileged children, many of them non-Catholic.
For the most part, these schools are staffed by dedicated, hardworking, and underpaid staff and teachers who have now shifted to online learning. New churches are being built, but we only read about parish closings. As the world returns to normal, we find churches open again in limited capacities. People recover from addictions, accidents, illness and depression in so many catholic institutions. Catholic relief services are one of the largest single private charitable services in the world. Every day the corporal and spiritual works of mercy are being carried out in hundreds of ways but they never make the news. Look around at this parish, the great kids, the wonderful parents, how you all simply care about each other.
We take all of these things for granted. For example, I have always maintained that all parents are guaranteed heaven. Remember there is only one place in the gospel where Jesus gives the credence of who gets to heaven. In Matthew 25-When I was hungry, you gave me to eat, when I was thirsty, you gave me to drink, when I was ill you visited me. As long as you did it to one of the least of my brothers or sisters, you did it to me, enter into the joy of the Lord. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are built into family life by nature. That is why I say that all parents are guaranteed heaven.
Mom, what will I wear? Counseling the doubtful. Dad, will you help with my math homework? Instructing the ignorant. The 2 am bottle, giving drink to the thirsty. Changing diapers, clothing the naked. Preparing meals, feeding the hungry. The cat died, burying the dead. Are you still in the bathroom? Visiting the imprisoned. And being good parents you will say, I have to do these things; it is my job and my duty. As if that made it less wonderful, less meritorious. Less the fulfillment of Jesus’ criteria for heaven. My point is these things go on all the time.
The Kingdom of Jesus is here, goodness abounds. Love is given and received. People are faithful, caring, courtesy and good deeds are commonplace. Do not let the daily diet of bad news trip you up. When we look around the world out of control, we all have doubts at times. I guess that is one good reason why we come to church every week. To recover our sense of vision, to celebrate the God we bumped into all week without knowing it. To handle the word and the bread and to see this very congregation with the new realization.
That such ordinary stuff as the word, the bread and wine, the people all harbor the very presence of God and that is good news.