Weekly Homily from Father Jim Hogan — for October 7, 2012

Genesis 2:18-24 Hebrews 2:9-11 Mark 10:13-16 27 Ordinary B ’12

I was born and raised in Montana – the Big Sky. At this time of year it is hunting season in Big Sky Country. Bow hunters are stalking elk and deer in the mountains. Duck and geese hunters hide in ambush among the bushes and willows on ponds and rivers, while other hunters tramp across fields of stubble hoping to flush out pheasants.

I liked to hunt, especially ducks, geese or pheasants. One day I had wounded a duck and as I was twisting its neck, I heard a silent voice within asking myself, “why am I doing this?” I became aware that what I was doing was harder on me than on the duck! So I removed the shells from my shotgun and simply rambled across the fields, enjoying the autumn colors and the rush of birds taking flight. That was a moment of enlightenment – a different way of seeing and knowing reality. I went home and sold my shotgun.

Spiritually enlightened people in all major religions see the world in a manner that is “non-dualistic.” “Dualistic” thinking is rooted in one’s ego. “Dualistic” thinkers see self as separate from, distinct from others. “Dualistic” thinkers see self as more significant and important than other people or other created things – like ducks. “Non-dualistic” thinkers see the deep, intimate relationship between all that exists. There are no “them” and “us.” Our deepest truth made known to us in Christ is that none of us are separate and isolated. A rock thrown into a pond causes ripples to spread across the entire surface.

On that day when I shot my last duck, I began to realize and live with a new awareness that I am a cell in a much larger organism than my individual self. Whatever I do to a duck, to another person, or to any other things, I do to myself. We are individuals but not separate and isolated from others. We are deeply connected with and to everyone and everything.
Jesus of Nazareth teaches us about life and about ourselves. At the heart of his teaching is “the kingdom of God” — “God’s new reality.”

In our very brief gospel text today, we heard Mark tell us, “People were bringing children to Jesus that he might touch them.” In Jewish society at that time, children were nobodies, not important. Presumably those who brought the children want this man of God to communicate something of his strength and life to them. Apparently his disciples were thinking in a “dualistic” manner – “them and us.” “They rebuked” those bringing the children to Jesus. We don’t know why. Perhaps they were coveting the attention of Jesus for themselves.

“ When Jesus saw this, he was indignant.” He said, “let the children come to me, for ‘ the kingdom of God’ belongs to such as these!” The point Mark’s Jesus makes is this. “Anyone who will not receive God’s new reality’ like a little child will never enter it.” Being “like a little child” implies a behavior pattern, an attitude. Children are innocent and trusting. They experience the world in a non-dualistic manner – not “me against you.” They are open to “the reign of God” — “God’s new reality.” “Dualistic” thinking hinders “ God’s new reality” emerging among us.

In welcoming children and all who are like children, Mark’s Jesus challenges us to live consciously in the Oneness that is God. “The universe is charged with the grandeur of God,” as the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins observed. “The universe is charged with the grandeur of God!”

Look about you. Relish the autumn colors. Listen to the clouds floating across the sky. Hold someone’s hand. Eat and drink the sacrament of Christ’s life. Connection, community – these give meaning to life. We are the Living Body of Christ. The part we play matters to the whole. See and feel “God’s new reality” emerging in us and around us. Wherever we look, there is the Divine. Even in ducks! Get that and we begin to reach out and create the relationships that heal wounds, repair brokenness and safeguard Earth. All of this is “God’s new reality.

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