Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - It's Not Fair!
From the time we learned to talk, the phrase "It's not fair" has been standard for all and sundry. As children we complained "It's not fair"! As adolescents, the same grievance is uttered; and, in adulthood, it is no different as we question the hand life deals us with questions such as - "Why me"? Today's readings deal with this apparent unfairness in life.

Jeremiah 20:78-9: - Jeremiah, one of the great complainers of history, does not mince his words - he has been had! God has not played fair, and he, Jeremiah has had as much as he is going to take! With what result? He backs off as he sees a deeper purpose at work in the demands being made of him.

Romans 12: 1-2: - Here Paul is encouraging the Romans to understand that Christian discipleship leads them to a deeper understanding of life and its ultimate purpose. Christian commitment asks that we evaluate life not only in terms of the present, mundane values, but in terms of spiritual transformation enabling us to know what it is God wants, and why He wants it.

Matthew 16: 21-27: - Christ warns the Apostles that the day of reckoning must come - that His mission can only be fulfilled through death. He must go up to Jerusalem for the final confrontation. Peter argues that there must be another way; Christ assures him that there is not.

Point 1: There is no doubt that there are times when one feels justified in thinking that all things are not equal! That there are times when it appears that life is distinctly unfair. For some, their hardest efforts appear futile; they do not seem to get the breaks, whilst, for others, to all intents and purposes, life is a cruise. Others, after years of work and wise management, arrive at a point where they feel they can ease off, sit back and together enjoy the fruits of the efforts, only to be cut off. Endlessly we hear the question - "Why does God permit it"? Natural disasters wreaking havoc on the innocent always give rise to questions about the fairness of God. There are many other areas of living which cause us to grumble and feel badly done by - being saddled with a culture that, for the most part, we have not been consulted on; asked to serve a God who seems remarkably reluctant to let us know exactly what He has in store for us; a God who gives us the splendid gift of life and warns that He may also take it away without notice. It is easy to become angry and to echo the words of Dylan Thomas -"Do not go gently into that night. Rage, rage against the failing light". But, rage though we may, it will happen with or without our cooperation; and so we must settle down and be realistic about our work and responsibilities.

Point 2: And that is the sombre and grim reminder of the readings to which we have just listened.
Jeremiah, one of the great "complainers", of "doom and gloom" reputation, does not mince his words - "You have seduced me Lord, and I have allowed myself to be seduced.... I am a daily laughing stock, everybody's butt". But, no matter how unfairly he felt he had been treated, he could not make the break and, finally, capitulated to see life through the eyes of God -"I will not speak in His name anymore... then there seemed to be a fire burning in my heart ....but the effort to restrain it wearied me. I could not bear it". It is the same with Paul speaking to the Roman converts - to know that conversion brings with it a new outlook on life resulting in new behaviour patterns - "let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind". And again Peter, arguing with the Lord - 'there has to be another way of doing things!" reflecting our very human attitudes. Christ clearly states there is not! "Get behind me Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God's, but man's".

Conclusion: Just as Christ had to face Jerusalem with its Calvary, each of us has to deal with our personal 'Jerusalem'. We do not do so eagerly and without fear, but, drawing on Christ's assurance that the greatest act of living is dying, we face the demands of life with courage and confidence. It is not always easy to recognise that God's ways are not ours ways; that what appear as pointless behaviour from the human point of view is not always so when related to eternity.

Scriptural reference Yet you say, "The way of the Lord is unfair." Hear now,‚‚  O‚‚  house of‚‚ ‚‚ ‚‚  Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? :[Ezek 18:25]