FR. TOM'S HOMILY FOR THE 12th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, June 21, 2020:
Emmet Fox was an Irish spiritual leader of the last century. In particular, his ministry spoke to the challenges experienced during the Great Depression a century ago. He wrote, “There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer; there is no woundedness that enough love will not heal; there is no door that enough love will not open; no gulf that enough love will not bridge; no wall that enough love will not throw down; no sin that enough love will not redeem. It makes no difference how deeply seated the trouble may be; how hopeless the outlook; how muddled the tangle; how great the mistake. A sufficient amount of love will dissolve it all. If only you could love enough, you would be the happiest being in the world.”
More than a century later, we are all living in an unprecedented time of challenge. For months, we have lived under the cloud of the coronavirus pandemic, and there is currently no end in sight. More recently, we see racism and hatred once again rear its ugly face across our nation, inspiring righteous calls for justice from coast to coast. Heading into a presidential election, the partisanship and tribalism that tears at the unity of our nation is on the increase. In the midst of this whirlwind of negativity that surrounds us, it is not always easy to proclaim our faith boldly in word and deed; it isn’t always easy to be the ones that love the world into healing and holiness; it isn’t always easy to see our way through.
As always, God has a word for us today – one that is meant to speak to our hearts, speak to our lives, speak even to these challenges that we face. We heard Jesus in our Gospel say today, “Fear no one.” In the midst of all of our trials – personal and global - today Jesus gives us these calming, affirming words, “Fear no one.”
When we look at our first reading from the prophet Jeremiah, we know that he had an incredibly difficult task – God called upon him to proclaim impending doom to a people who would not listen. Jeremiah’s fidelity to God’s call was rewarded with gossip, back-biting and suspicion. This man, trying to fulfill the vocation God had laid out before him, found himself the subject of hatred and plots. We hear his anguished words, “I hear the whisperings of many: ‘Terror on every side! Let us denounce him!’ All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine.” It may have seemed to Jeremiah as though God had abandoned him.
But, the prophet never turned his gaze away from God. Even though God felt far off, Jeremiah was certain that God would remain on his side. At the moment when he felt the most alone, most abandoned, Jeremiah’s faith was the strongest. Jeremiah came to realize that when all else is gone, all of the false things that we rely on, the one true reality is God and God alone.
I think today, in the midst our situation, we can identify with Jeremiah. As our world seems to be so wrapped in pain and suffering, so consumed with fear and doubt, so troubled by hatred and anguish, we may wonder where God is. We may wonder how we will get through this. We may wonder what we are called to do. The world is not the way God intended it to be. Try as we might, we can give in to anger when love is called for, frustrated by our times. But, Jesus reminds us, “Fear no one.” When we give in to fear, there is no room for God. When we give in to fear, there is no room for compassion and forgiveness. When we give in to fear, there is no room for love and healing. Fear only gives birth to more fear, to more anxiety, to more hatred and suspicion. “Fear no one.”
We are called, like Jeremiah, remain faithful to God. We are called to participate in the process of re-creating the world day-by-day through the overflowing gift of God’s love within us – a gift that comes to us from God in an infinite and never-ending supply. The simplest act of love can become the most profound act of healing. Where can we love more in our lives and in our world? Where can we make a difference? Where can we be different than the negative noise that surrounds us all the time. Our acts of loving kindness can cut through that noise and bring forth something new, something holy.
We can never lose sight of the fact that God’s grace abounds, that God’s love is more abundant than evil. We know this in Jesus. In Jesus, grace and love overflows. It is this grace and love that allows us to make the right choices, and gives us the strength to proclaim our faith boldly; to proclaim God’s love with compassion to a world that just seems to be shouting louder and louder.
Remember, despite whatever negativity we see all around us today – everything from plagues, to hatred and division – always remember this: our God has an extraordinary love for us – for each of us, individually. "Not a single sparrow falls to the ground without your Father's consent." Allow your heart to be filled with that love. “Fear no one.” Jesus takes away our fear by reminding us of God's extraordinary care – a love so powerful, that even every hair of your head is counted.
The choice to love always is the only one that really matters. Speak in the light; proclaim the truth from the housetops! This is what we do when we witness to God’s great love. My friends, “Fear no one.” That is the message today. As simple as that; as powerful as that. Look to Jeremiah; look to Jesus and stand up for the faith that we share with the overwhelming love of God. We must be the signs of radical, never ending love in a world that needs us desperately.
“There is no difficulty that enough love will not conquer…If only you could love enough you would be the happiest being in the world.”
May the Lord give you peace!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.