Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzwords - "It's not Fair"!
How often do we use those words to respond to life's situations! As children, we constantly complain of being hardly done by; and, as adults, we often think that we are entitled to a better deal - a sort of "God owes us!" The fact is, that, as Christians, we were never promised exemption from life's trials and difficulties. What we are promised is that by staying close to Christ, we are guaranteed the strength to deal with life's situations, good, bad or indifferent, even to the extent of making the best of a bad bargain!

Acts - 9:26-31 - For Paul, acceptance by the Apostles was necessary for him to continue his work of evangelisation. Union with Church equalled union with Christ; we, too, draw strength from our church association by way of comfort or encouragement in moments of need.

1 John 3:18-24 - Here John states that this sense of union with Christ is reflected in the lives of Christians in a variety of ways - Faith, proven by good works; love of God exemplified by respect and regard for those with whom we come in contact; commitment shown in observance of the commandments.

John 15:1-8 - In his Gospel, John clearly states that a continued Christian response can only be maintained by continued union with Christ - He is the vine; we are the branches.

Point 1: The fact that life is not fair puzzles most people; the author of the psalms complains frequently that the "good suffer, and the not so good prosper". More often than not, we find ourselves joining with the Fiddler on the roof in asking "Lord, who made the lion and the lamb; You decreed I should be what I am; would it spoil some vast eternal plan, if I were a wealthy man?" Years ago, before Vatican 11, at the end of each Mass we would pray to be released from this "vale of tears". We don't say it anymore, although it is arguable whether the world has become any less "a vale of tears" from which we seek release, to become a noticeably better place. The more mature person, however, can find a positive side to what, on the surface, appears to be a senseless program of suffering and deprivation.

Point 2: Particularly is this so for those whose thinking stems from religious roots. The Christian is well positioned in this regard. Mothers wonder why there isn't an easier path to motherhood, but they rejoice when their children are born. [John 16:21] When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world. The pain of separation through quarrelling is compensated by the joy of reconciliation. Through adversity, stronger bonds of comradeship are forged. At no stage did Christ promise his followers that they would be exempt from the great mysteries of evil, suffering and pain. But, He did promise that God's love is greater than the passing irritation of everyday living, and that, finally, we will be given to understand the "why" of evil and suffering. [1 Cor 13:12-13] For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love".

Conclusion: In the meantime, just as pruning improves the tree, so hardship and disappointment can be made to serve the growth of a person's character. Those who bear the unfairness of life with faith, confidence and courage, hope and generosity, do indeed become more authentic human personalities. In our story, the pruning can stand for the elimination of unproductive branches, (bad habits), or the trimming of productive branches, (more dedicated service), so that they will bear even more fruit. What Jesus is telling us is - stay united with Him and we are better able to bear the heartaches, the unfairness, the injustices, the indignities of life

Scriptural reference: Consider the work of God; who can make straight what he has made crooked? In the day of prosperity be joyful, and in the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other. [Eccl 7:13-14]