Through Him Week 4: Do Not Be Afraid, Have Faith

(Homily for Thirteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B)

Message: Through Him we can avoid both denial and bitterness. He tells us, "Do not be afraid; just have faith."

Today we have the fourth and final homily in our series - Through Him. To lead into the homily I begin with a humorous observation by Venerable Bishop Sheen. He explains the difference between a psychotic and a neurotic. "A psychotic," observes Bishop Sheen, "says that 2 plus 2 equals 5. On the other hand, a neurotic says 2 plus 2 equals 4... but he is mad about it!" (smile, pause)

The psychotic denies reality while the neurotic becomes angry and bitter. If we look at the first reading we can see why both denial and bitterness are so common. The Book of Wisdom teaches that God made the world good and that he created human beings in his likeness. We and the world we belong to has an amazing beauty and greatness. The world, however, has become messed up - terribly. The Book of Wisdom says that by the devil's envy, the curse of death - and human perversity - entered the world.

When our World Youth Day delegation goes to Krakow, we will visit a place of horrendous human perversity - the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. It's easy to say, "Well, the Nazis did that. You and I could never do something so evil." That is denial. You and I are capable of such things. We not only experience evil and cruelty but we also commit such acts. And then we blame the other guy! "Ah, he's over-sensitive." This is called denial.

Now, we want to avoid denial, but at the same time not fall into bitterness. It's easy to say, "Oh, heck with it."

In today's Gospel, Jesus offers a different way: a way out of bitterness, a way that avoids denial. Jesus speaks to a man who has every reason for bitterness - the sickness and death of his twelve-year-old daughter. Could anything worse happen? As a priest, I have accompanied people in times of terrible suffering. I do not know anything worse than the death of a much loved child. Jesus says to that man, "Do not be afraid; just have faith."

Jesus is hardly asking us to deny reality. Of all people, Jesus faced evil, suffering and death head-on. Only he can call us from the brink of bitterness.

With those words, "Do not be afraid; just have faith," I bring to a conclusion this mini-series, "Through Him." Through Jesus. As we have seen, Jesus gives us his body and blood. The Eucharist really is his Body and Blood. Jesus is the kingdom - in his own person. His love impels because "one man died for all." Through Him we can avoid both denial and bitterness. He tells us, "Do not be afraid; just have faith." Amen.

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*Plan for the summer months:

June 7: Through Him Week 1: A Dynamic Presence
June 14: Through Him Week 2: How It Is With the Kingdom
June 21: Through Him Week 3: Love of Christ Impels Us
June 28: Through Him Week 4: Do Not Be Afraid, Have Faith
July 5: Building on Strength Week 1: Scripture as Word of God
July 12: Building on Strength Week 2: Teaching Authority of Church
July 19: Building on Strength Week 3: Sacrament of Reconciliation
July 26: Dimensions of the Eucharist Week 1
August 2: Dimensions of the Eucharist Week 2
August 9: Dimensions of the Eucharist Week 3
August 16: Dimensions of the Eucharist Week 4
August 23: Dimensions of the Eucharist Week 5

From Archives (12th Ordinary Sunday - Year B):

2012: Excel in Every Respect
2009: For Your Love and Fidelity
2006: When God Seems Distant
2000: Appreciating the Ordinary

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