Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Adversity
Each of us experiences adversity in some form or another, not only ultimately in death, but frequently in everyday living. It can be material hardship, emotional loss, or intellectual doubts that create a crisis of faith. How much of a struggle life can be is seen in all three of today's readings.

2 Chronicles 36:14-17; 19-23: - Israel sins and is sent into exile; when the exile is over, the difficult and lengthy work of reconstruction commences - rebuilding a country, rebuilding a religion, rebuilding a civilisation, all summarised in the rebuilding of the temple.

Ephesisan 2:4-10: - The author quotes the ancient Christian hymn that describes life as being full of suffering, but, because of Christ, it can be suffering with a purpose.

Gospel, Jn 3:14-21 - This comes from a discourse of Jesus to Nicodemus who was puzzled by Jesus' demand for rebirth. Jesus here explains that rebirth comes only through death, not so much the death at the end of life - though that is the ultimate death - but the deaths and rebirths that happen constantly throughout our lives.

Point 1: Robert Louis Stevenson, Scottish novelist, essayist and poet, in the course of a comparatively short life - he died at the age of 44 - established a reputation envied by many, reviled by others. To the latter, he was a rebel, an immoral swaggerer, an optimistic escapist. From those who admired him, however, comes a more accurate picture of a sensitive and intelligent writer who had no illusions of life or of the people who are so much part of it. For Stevenson, life was a constant struggle against chronic ill-health, full of work, family conflict and condemnation by his critics. He did not profess to have the complete key to life's many problems, but, when the end came unexpectedly, it was found that he had already written his epitaph - 'Home is the sailor, home from the sea! and the hunter, home from the hill!' For him, death was the end of the struggle; death was an introduction to peace and the end of the conflict. It was the beginning of rest.

Point 2: To this thought, the informed christian brings added conviction. By considering the cross and the experience of Calvary, the Christian is encouraged to see the crazy patch work of life with its intervals of war and peace, work and rest, in clearer perspective. St Paul's description comes to mind -[2 Cor 4:8] We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.

Conclusion: As often as conflict comes into our lives, we either rise to the occasion 'to live with Christ', or we succumb to 'live in quiet desperation'. The difference invariably lies in the strength of our faith in the example set by Christ and the hope that we have in His promise. During this Lent, we should be asking ourselves - what are the crosses that we must face at the present time in our lives? And are we bringing to those situations an informed Christian response? Do we see in the cross we are being asked to bear an opportunity to grow in God's love? Christ did not allow the cruelties of Calvary to separate Him from the love of God. Our adversities, too, can be as much a prelude to our resurrection as Calvary was to Christ's resurrection. Recall Christ's reply to Mary and Martha who were grief-stricken at the death of their brother, Lazarus.

Scriptural reference:"[John 11:25] Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die."