I had a homily prepared to look at the question of judgment, and the strange relationship between our first reading and our gospel. However, given the events of this week in the Ukraine, I think perhaps what we need to reflect on in these readings is the source of our hope.
Given everything that has happened over the last two years, I think patience is in short supply. People are feeling frayed, at the end of their tether. Struggling to balance the need to deal with what we have gone through and the need to move on, the need to re-establish a certain equilibrium. And now all this. So, if patience is in short supply, what hope is there for hope?
On that note, I would just like to highlight a point about reading the Bible. I highlight it mostly for myself because it is something I need to remember more. I have a tendency to read the Bible in the light of my world. I try to make sense of it against the background of my own thoughts, my own desires, my own temptations, my own relationships. But the Bible, first and foremost, is about Jesus. The Old Testament prepares the way for his coming, and the New Testament proclaims that he is here, he is Emmanuel, God with Us.
And when we take that mindset to today’s readings, I think we find the source of our hope.
Both Jesus and our first reading talk about knowing something by its fruit. Good fruit means a good tree. Bad fruit means a bad tree. Clean water means a clean source. Dirty water means a dirty source. This is a way to think about Easter, as we get ready to begin Lent. The Resurrection is the fruit of Holy Thursday and Good Friday, the life of Christ. The Resurrection is the fruit of the love of Jesus. The Resurrection is the fruit of Jesus telling us, “I am with you always, yes, even to the end of the age.” It is the fruit of Jesus telling us, “Be brave. I have conquered the world.“ It is the fruit of him promising us a peace that the world cannot give.
This is the source of our hope, namely, we believe that Jesus truly is the Son of God. We believe that God loves us so much that he sent his only Begotten Son into the world to be with us so that we would be in no doubt as to God’s love. And then through his Passion, Death and Resurrection, Jesus invited us into communion with him. He invites us to become his Body. And this is the second bit about hope that I want to talk about.
Jesus says that you know the source by the fruit. But then he makes us part of himself. And in making us part of himself, he entrusts his words to us. He entrusts his actions to us. He wants us to makes his words and deeds our own. Just as he prayed for the lost, so we do too. Just as he wept for those that suffer, so we do too. Just as he fed the hungry, welcomed the sinner, healed the sick, so we do too. And just as he entered into the lives of others with a heart full of love and compassion, so we must too.
And when we do this, when we accept the invitation to make his life our own, when we being to say his words and do his deeds, something amazing happens. We come to know the source of these words and actions. Our lives begin to be transformed. The fruit of Jesus’s life begins to heal and restore our hearts. Our sorrowful hearts that struggle to produce good fruit, gradually are changed into rich soil for the seed of the Word of God. We begin to notice our failings, but in the light of God’s love for our brothers and sisters. And therefore our failings are not a source of despair, but a reason for hope, because God loves us and would never show us something that we could not come back from. God only shows us the truth to build us up. To help us know how much God loves us and how wonderful he wants us to become.
And if this is true for us, it is also true for the whole of creation. This then is the source of hope: that what we see in Christ, what we experience in the Church and in the life of grace, is in fact the destiny of the world. It is our job to grasp this destiny with both hands. We must say Amen to all the gifts that God wants to give us. We must offer ourselves to the Father in Christ so that we might share this message of hope with our communities.
This Mass then let’s pray for more faith. Faith in God’s love. Faith that we are the body of Christ. Faith that we are being brought further and further into the light so that God’s glory might be visible to others. And let’s pray for peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace in our community and peace in our world.