Taking Back Your Peace: Homily for 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Does any of this sound like you?
- I’m broke. I’m in debt, and I never have enough money to pay the bills.
- I’m sick all the time, my health is poor, or I’m terminally ill.
- I struggle with constant fear, anxiety and/or depression.
- I’m struggling with an addiction and/or living a lifestyle I know is not pleasing to God.
- I’m struggling in my marriage or relationships at home or work.
- I have a huge problem, and I do not know how it will ever get solved.
- I feel like my life is going nowhere, and there is no hope for change.
- I have an OK life, but I feel like something’s missing.
- I want to have a better relationship with God.
If that’s where you are, how do you move from there to a better place? Where do we get grace for the journey? One pastor provides four suggestions:
1. What gave the Israelites the courage to begin their journey into the unknown desert land? They expected God to fulfill His promise.
Re-read the First Reading from Wisdom 18:6-9: “The night of the passover was known beforehand to our fathers, so that, with sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith, they might have courage. Your people awaited their salvation, and the destruction of their foes.”
Sometimes it is not easy to be totally certain of God’s covenant with us. It is hard to carry out a huge “leap of faith.” So make smaller steps, “maybe a hop or two, of faith in your everyday life.” Keep praying faithfully every day. Go to Mass every week. Maybe you’re not feeling any consolation. Keep going.
Noah left his fear in the ark with only a rainbow for surety –
something he could not pocket or cling to.. only a witness after the storms…
but that was enough for him – and all who hold to God’s promises. (Wisdom 18:6 )
2. Follow Your External Witness.
“To be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace…. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit.” (Romans 8:6, 16). Pope Francis wrote on this to young people at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Sunday, January 18, 2015: “Have you learned how to beg? Or are you so self-sufficient? Do you think you need nothing? Do you know you too are poor? Do you know your own poverty and your need to receive?
Who helps you, with certainty and responsibility, in such unmapped areas of faith? Who is the member of your community of faith who comforts you – yet simultaneously call you out to a higher level?
3. We are called to be people of Faith – Hope – Love. Be aware of – and refuse to entertain – the ”triple attack” of doubt, worry and fear. Look at the Second Reading, Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19. Abraham was called away to an unknown country. No guarantees – only promises. God said, “Trust me.” If you feel you are on an uncharted territory of faith
- Ask yourself: “What is testing my belief? Why is this so hard for me now?”
- Ask God: “Why is He calling me to unknown places?”
- Read and pray Psalm 58, “A prayer against attackers.”
As for me, I will sing of your strength.
Each morning I will acclaim your love for you have been my stronghold,
a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my Strength, it is you to whom I turn, for you,
O God, are my stronghold, the God who shows me love.
Repeat it. Repeat it again. Keep repeating until “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guards your hearts and your minds.” (Philippians 4:7)
4. Love Others – Even When They Don’t Deserve It. Read today’s Responsorial Psalm 33: ”Our soul waits for the Lord,” who will come when we least expect him. Author Gerald Darring writes that Waiting is not passive! We keep our belts tightened and our lamps burning “like men awaiting our master’s return from a wedding.” But in the meantime ….Waiting for Christ to return means working for the coming of the Kingdom.
- Combating poverty,
- Working to build policies, programs, politics that respect the dignity of individuals,
- Establishing peace among divided people, families, cultures, nations, political adversaries,
- Curbing the pride that causes us to become confrontational with God
Learn how to receive with humility. Learn to be evangelized by the poor, those we help, the sick, orphans – they have so much to give us. Let yourselves be evangelized by those whom you serve. This is what helps you mature in your commitment to give to others. Learn how to open your hand from your very own poverty.
Peace of heart is a grace – but does NOT stand there and do nothing. You need to take it! When you start operating in these truths—
- expecting every promise,
- refusing to worry or fear,
- listening to your witnesses,
- walking in love.
…the thief becomes unmasked.
…the Prince of Peace arises
… and you begin to take back your peace – and keep it.