Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Consequences
An important aspect of our Christian response to life is the ability to make responsible judgments on matters that affect our relationships within society and our responsibilities before God. Today's readings advise us that although we are free to respond to life as we wish, we must be prepared to accept the consequences of the decisions we make.

Amos 6: 1,4-7 The angry old farmer turned Prophet, Amos, lays it on the line - Eat, drink and be merry, if you wish; but, if that is all you do, be prepared to take the consequences.

1 Timothy 6: 11-16 Paul encourages Timothy to grow continually as a Christian. As an appointed leader it is expected of him that his attitudes will reflect constant growth in integrity, piety, faith, love, steadfastness and a gentle spirit.

Luke 16: 19-31 The rich man thought that high living and material wealth were all that counted in life. Too late he recognised how mistaken he had been; how limited had been his vision of life in not recognising the responsibilities that came with his wealth. Having called the tune, now he must be prepared to pay the piper!

Point 1: When he called the Bishops and experts to Rome for Vatican Council 11, Pope John XX111 explained that he had acted -" so that man's sojourn on earth might be less sad". At first sight, this statement appears pessimistic; on closer analysis, however, in addition to the recognition that life involves pain and struggle, the Pope was also affirming that people have within themselves the promise of growth and accomplishment. Throughout its long history, Christian teaching has emphasised this need for personal growth; without this awareness, people are prone to make decisions based on prejudice or complacency. Prejudice and complacency rule out mature decision making at any level.

Point 2: Today, more than ever, this need for mature assessment is present. Our social fabric is under great strain as we struggle to come to terms with the demands being made on us as responsible people - terrorism, the asylum seekers, racial pressures generated by the demands of multicultural acceptance, not to mention changing family and moral attitudes. Our Christian position is that the basis of healthy living is balance. As God's creatures, we are beings of infinitely subtle unity blending the physical, the emotional and the intellectual and the more complete personality emerges when all three levels of living find expression. Our response to the pressures that I have mentioned need to consider all of these levels. Going off "half-cocked", as they say, does not provide a balanced solution. The mature Christian response is one which balances strength with compassion; reason and passion; action and carefully considered restraint.

Conclusion: The response given by Christ, as outlined in the gospels, provides us with guidelines to follow - He was stern and unrelenting towards evil as shown in the encounter with the traders in the temple; and, on the other hand, gentle and forgiving towards the woman taken in adultery. To those who enjoyed His special friendship, he was loyal and concerned and, when confronted with a situation that could not be changed, as in the Garden of Gethsemani, he was resigned - "Not my will, but yours be done". Against such example, the majority of us must recognise the need for growth in our personal attitudes - our indifference to the presence of evil; our indifference to the needs of others; our readiness to rant and to carry on when we do not always get our own way - all need to change. As one commentator observed - for the majority, the only apparent growth is around the girth! Whether we grow or not is our choice, but we should not forget that we will be held accountable before God if we decide against growth.

Scriptural reference: Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus who inspires and perfects our faith... remember how he endured the opposition of sinners; hence do not grow despondent or abandon the struggle (Hebrews 12: 2-3)