Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Enthusiasm
Commitment is a word we often hear used in homilies and pep-talks and, invariably, we are encouraged to be enthusiastic about that on which we have set our minds. Today's readings, emphatically, speak to us of the need to be enthusiastic in our commitment to Christian beliefs and practices.

Isaiah 66:10-14 The Babylonian exile has ended. The Israelites are to return to Israel and to Jerusalem. Both country and city have been devastated during the years of exile; and now, they must set themselves to the task of reconstruction. Isaiah is telling them that they must overcome their initial discouragement and become positive in their attitudes to the task of rebuilding, drawing strength from their sense of commitment as God's Chosen Ones.

Galatians 6: 14-18 Nothing stifles progress more than division. The early Christian community, consisting of converts from Judaism and non Jewish traditions, was divided on the matter of circumcision. Paul encourages them to overcome their differences in the light of the common bond that exists because of their Baptism.

Luke 10: 1-12 17-20 The call by Christ to the 72 disciples leaves no room for halfhearted acceptance. He tells them that they must be totally committed in their efforts to bring to people a new vision of life and its possibilities.

Point 1: As a lad growing up and frequently told to do things that, left to myself, I would have preferred not to do, my halfhearted efforts would be noted by my parents and described as those of "a dying duck in a thunderstorm"! In other word, I was being less than enthusiastic in my response. The same comment could be made by Christ, today, on the response of a good many baptised people. And because they don't appear to be very enthusiastic, they do not spark enthusiasm in others.

Point 2: Each of us has had the experience of knowing someone special; and if we ask ourselves what it is that makes that person special, invariably it is because whatever that person sets out to do, it is done with enthusiasm. Such people recognise that they are possessed of ability coupled with a willingness to make that ability available to whatever or whomever they have committed themselves. And they do this in a detached manner. Their efforts are not dictated by personal gain, or status or authority. They are living for an ideal, not on it! They put in more than they take out.

Point 3: If we stop to think about the people who have influenced us - parents, teachers, priest or friend - in every instance they combined enthusiasm with energy; powerful commitment with a notable lack of concern for themselves as they pursued a goal. Looking at today's readings, especially the first reading from the Old Testament and the gospel of St. Luke, we see these qualities being recorded as signs of commitment -enthusiasm, energy, vision, dedication and perseverance. A literal acceptance of the gospel words is not the point; how each of us practises detachment and urgency is for the person to decide. What is asked is that we recognise the opportunities for good opened to us as Christ's disciples and, using our God given gifts, pursue those goals with enthusiasm.

Conclusion: Christian belief presents us with a vision of life that opens up vast possibilities for fulfilled living, and we are the instruments through whom this vision becomes known. Let our efforts not resemble those of the proverbial "dying duck in a thunderstorm"!

Scriptural reference: "Do not neglect the gift you have which was given to you by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands on you" (1 Timothy 4: 14)