Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - If only...
How frequently we use that phrase! "If only" things were different! "if only" I could win Lotto! "If only".... the list is endless! To-day's Scripture readings ask "how different life would be "if only" we took seriously the words of Jesus and recognised that a christian response to life, of necessity, means having faith in Christ, being strongly disciplined, and, ultimately, sacrifice, even life itself.

Zechariah 12: 10-11: The prophet announces that, tragic though it be, the death of the Messiah, the Just One, will result in the conversion of many. The early Christian teachers linked this prophecy with the crucifixion of Jesus who, by losing his life, finds life not only for himself but for all who believe in him.

Galatians 3: 26-29 St. Paul is disturbed by the racial and sexist attitudes of the newly converted who have not fully understood that, in the eyes of God, all people have equal standing. A Christian response requires them to give up longstanding hates and prejudices.

Luke 9: 18-24 Three statements are made in to-day's reading - Peter's profession of faith; the foretelling of the passion, death and resurrection of Christ; and, finally, the need for discipline. Put together, these give us a lesson on how to live and how to die.

Point 1 What is Jesus talking about - "taking up one's cross"and "losing one's life"! For the majority of people life is a matter of achieving a "comfort" zone. Popular thinking tells us that "Consumerism" and "having a good time" are what life is about. "Death", even "old age", are taboo subjects. People who do research on dying tell us that in the last moments of life, a spirit of resignation takes over and death becomes acceptable. But, until then, people are gripped by a powerful will to live. History has recorded extraordinary accounts of survival against unimaginable odds, as this will to live drove men and women onwards. Against this fact, today's gospel advice appears to be contradictory.

Not really! Psychologically, there is merit in Christ's advice that a person, in order to live a fulfilled life, must be prepared to take chances. Anyone who becomes so security conscious that all risk is avoided becomes negative in living. The point of Christ's statement, then, is that a christian response demands that life cannot be totally self-centred; selfishness for the christian is a "No-no"! Recent observances of Anzac Day and D-Day lend weight to Christ's words.

Point 2: Fortunately, there is a great deal of evidence to show that many people are accepting the challenge of sharing their hard-earned prosperity and security with others less fortunate. Many agencies, sponsored by governments and individuals, are reflecting this acceptance of Christ's challenge - Centacare; In communio; Project compassion; St. Vincent de Paul; Salvation Army, Anglicare, Mother Teresa of Calcutta; Caritas; volunteer programmes; social service programmes amongst others, - to face the inequalities of today's world. The fat simply cannot go on getting fatter whilst the poor get poorer. We have heard this many times and we yawn because we know that it isn't us who are creating this imbalance. Maybe so! But are we doing as much as we can to correct it?

Conclusion: Today's central thought is for us to broaden our perspectives. Whilst it is recognised that the prudent person does not take undue risks, neither does one become so "security conscious" that the challenge of Christian commitment is lost. Real commitment to Christian thinking cannot be achieved by the selfish.

Scriptural reference: "Truly, truly, I say to you unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but, if it lives, it bears much fruit" (John 12:14)