Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - "Help"
For the most part, people manage life's situations reasonably well; but there are times when a life belt is very much the order of the day. Today's readings continue to remind us of how the disciples recovered from the shattering events associated with the arrest and execution of Christ.

Acts 2: 14 22-33: - In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Peter again lists the credentials for Christ's claim to be the Promised Messiah, claims that are justified by the fact of His resurrection which now inspires the Apostles to carry on the mission given to them by Christ -

1 Peter 1: 17-21: - The letter written by Peter to Christians living in Asia Minor, who were suffering persecution, was an exhortation to strengthen and comfort them for the trials they were experiencing because of their conversion.

Luke 24: 13-35: - It is the Gospel reading, however, that provides most food for thought in today's liturgy. The two disciples were still in a state of shock at the tragic turn of events that had taken place in Jerusalem; without revealing his identity, little by little, the risen Jesus encourages them to see the whole picture - the prophecies, the expectations associated with the Messiah - the Anointed One, the Christ - all of which had their culmination in the suffering, the death and the resurrection of Christ. The final veil was lifted from their eyes as they came to full recognition in the "breaking of bread".

Point 1 - Unlike some forms of animal life that are endowed with an elaborate set of instincts which enable them to respond without thought or reflection to given situations, humans rely on acquired knowledge to guide them. It is our nature to interpret and to evaluate situations. Through education, largely trial and error, we equip ourselves to handle most of the situations we encounter in daily life. But, there are times when, because of confusion or fear, we find ourselves out of our depth ,and we desperately need something or someone to cling to - a life belt, a guiding light to help us make our way. Examples come readily to mind - the first real domestic dispute, the heart break of sudden bereavement as a result of accident, a crisis of friendship. Through the ages, religious belief has provided great comfort and strength in such situations; particularly is this true in the Judaic-Christian tradition. The prophet Isaiah made this reference to the Almighty as the Ultimate source of Strength and Comfort - [Isa 57:18] "I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort". The Psalms are full of such references; one of the better known being that of David in Psalm 23 -"The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want; He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul..."

Point 2: - The Apostles were a shattered and demoralised group following the arrest and execution of Christ. They had thrown in their lot with Him - [Luke 5:11] " When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him". And when challenged by Christ to join those who were abandoning His leadership, Peter replied [John 6:68] "Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.". But then came the moment of crisis - the betrayal by Judas, the denial by Peter and, with the exception of John, the desertion by the disciples [Mat 26:56] ." Then all the disciples deserted him and fled". The Resurrection changed all of that; now,their mission was cyrstal clear - " [Luke 24:47] that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things

The question for us is - how do we respond in the face of crisis? Are we inclined to question -"Why me?", "How can a God of Love allow this to happen", "What did I do to deserve this?" and so on. Or do we recognise that a Faith challenged can grow stronger. From the very beginning, religious relationship has been one of challenge associated with encouragement and strength - Abraham, Moses, David, the Apostles and so on through the centuries to the present. Should it be any different for us than it was for them? The answer is No! for the same assurance is there;

Scriptural reference: [Mat 11:28] "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.