• Zechariah 12:10-11; 13:1 • Galatians 3:26-2 • Luke 9:18-24 • 12 Ordinary C ‘13 •
Print PDF: Weekly Homily 06.23.2013
Scripture Readings: Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Many years ago, an article in a London newspaper asked “What’s Wrong with the World?” Suggestions flooded in. Then one very short letter arrived. It said,
“Dear Sir. Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’
I am! Yours truly, G.K. Chesterton.”
G. K. Chesterton is recognized as a Catholic scholar whose insights are filled with wisdom. The question posed by that newspaper still presses upon us. His wisdom still remains on target.
Most of us noted the intense and exaggerated media attention to the selection of a new Bishop of Rome. That was at least in part because all is not well within our Catholic household of faith. I am repeatedly and often asked what I think of the new Bishop of Rome. I think this.
There may be one-point-something billion Catholics in the world. For nearly three decades, most of us have been conditioned to expect solutions or remedies from Rome. Too many of us now expect one bishop – the bishop of Rome — to provide sustenance for the entire Catholic community.
“What’s wrong with the church?” We are the church and all of us individually and communally are responsible to maintain our communal health. What’s wrong with the church?” “I am!” What matters is the kind of Catholic I am!
According to Luke, after some quiet prayer in a secluded spot, Jesus of Nazareth put his friends on the spot. He wants to know what they think. “Who do you say I am?” We know their answer. Knowing their answer is inadequate.
That question, “Who do you say I am?”, is directed to each of us personally, and begs for our answer. I can answer that question only after I look long and hard into the story of Jesus. I think most of what ails the church today can be traced back to the inadequacy of our response. When my answer is authentic it transforms me, and inspires me to imitate him. When it is authentic, it is clearly written in my values, ideas, actions and conversations.
At the beginning of the first Gulf War I was engaged in conversation with a group of about twenty University students. They were trying to help me understand their peers. I asked, “why are so many of your peers absent from liturgy?” Their answer was nearly unanimous. Their parents never miss Mass on Sunday. They, like the neighbors, live a comfortable life and support the war in Iraq. “If the values, ideas, actions and conversations of our parents are no different then those of our neighbors, then ‘why go to Mass?’” They choose sleep, fishing or skiing over Mass!
“Who do you say I am?” This is my answer. Jesus of Nazareth is my brother. He devoted his energy to proclaiming, promoting and living “the reign of God“ — a new world reality in which all people live with dignity and are treated with dignity.
His life style was simple. He took risks and did what was required to free people of whatever dehumanizes them or makes them suffer. He healed, reached out to, touched and ate with those considered “unclean.” He grieved with people, cast out demons, and his love enabled folks to be more fully alive and human. He is the model for me of what it means to be fully human.
He lived a life of nonviolent love. Nonviolence is the core of his life and of his teaching. It is impossible for him to harm or kill anyone for any reason. He did what he could to bring “shalom,” wholeness of life, to each person.
“What’s wrong with the church” can be remedied only to the degree I am able to respond to that basic question, “who do you say I am?” I hope my values, ideas, actions and conversations express my answer to that question.