I offer this homily (and take off my hat) to any brothers who are celebrating Mass or live streaming during this crisis
Bottom line: You have responded to Jesus' invitation - nay, his command: "Do not let your hearts be troubled..."
Happy Mother's Day! We have a special blessing for our moms - this year we will give that blessing in the parking lot.
Jesus has a word for our moms - and for all of us: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me."
We can have faith in Jesus. He has shown himself absolutely reliable and trustworthy. We've seen this in recent weeks. In his public ministry Jesus gave warnings about his coming passion and he hinted at the resurrection. This mystery coincides with prophecies contained in the Old Testament. For that reason Paul says that Jesus "died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures". Similarly, in accordance with the scriptures, he rose from the dead. The first physical evidence of Jesus' resurrection was the empty tomb. Then came the bodily appearances to various people. Their experience of the risen Jesus turned their lives upside down. They were willing to give up everything for Jesus - even to face hostility, torture and death. They did it joyfully because they had a living relation with Jesus in prayer and the sacraments, especially baptism and the Eucharist.
Because of these witnesses we have good reason to put our faith in Jesus, to trust him. He calls us to trust during this time of pandemic. God allowed this suffering to come upon us for his own reasons and purposes. We may not understand but we can trust Jesus.
When our nation suffered its greatest trial - the Civil War - President Abraham Lincoln expressed it this way: "As was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether'".
We may not be suffering so greatly as people did during the Civil War or during the pandemic of 1918-1919, still our suffering are real and for many quite terrible: elderly dying alone, maybe with family members holding a sign outside the window. And love ones unable to give a proper funeral. People having their lives wrecked - maybe a business they worked hard to build, now in ruins. Or the uncertainty and fear caused by massive unemployment.
People are asking: Why does God allow this? Why does God permit so much suffering? It won't do to start blaming others. You know, Abraham Lincoln could have blamed the South for the suffering of Civil War. But he did not do that. He recognized that we all to some degree have sinned and turned away from God. Lincoln speculated that God's judgement came because of the great sin of slavery. We certainly have done things which could bring the judgement of God.
Lincoln did not know how long the Civil War would last, nor do we know how long our present suffering will last. Whatever the future brings, along with Lincoln we can make an act of trust in God's righteousness. If we unite our sufferings to the cross, they have value - redemptive value.* In the midst of our crisis, we can hear Jesus: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me."
I know some people will object: "Why do we need faith in God? We're the ones who have to combat this virus. It depends on us, not God." I'll address that objection next weekend.
For today it's enough to recognize many are suffering deeply, perhaps some of our moms are suffering most. Some of you are going through a trial so terrible the rest of us can barely imagine. Yet you can recognize the truth of what Lincoln spoke: "As was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether'". And you can respond to Jesus' invitation - nay, his command: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me." Amen.
*The Catechism has 14 paragraphs on "illness in human life" - well worth reading, especially now. (#1500 ff)
Audio Homilies for Mercy Sunday:
From Archives (Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
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Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Kurt Nagel
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru