Bottom line: Better to light one candle than curse the darkness.
Last week we heard Jesus say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Repentance has a literal meaning of "change your mind, take on a new way of thinking." Instead of seeing things from an earthly, time-bound perspective, see them as they are - in light of eternity, God's perspective.
We saw how God works to change us. Sometimes gentle: "God whispers to us in our pleasures." or maybe a little stronger, "he speaks to us in our conscience," that inner voice, that sense of right and wrong. When we still remain deaf, "He shouts in our pain." Pain is God's megaphone to wake a deaf world.
Now, if pain can be redemptive, today we see the model of redemptive suffering. Simeon says to Mary, "you yourself a sword shall pierce." This refers to Mary's role in Jesus' passion, but in a very specific sense. Jesus' passion will bring about "the rise and fall of many." A small number - a remnant - will accept him while most will stumble. Mary suffers because of the rejection of her son.
We see that in our own world today. People put other things ahead of Jesus: sports, politics, cell phones. Those things become idols. Not that they do not have a place but they can easily replace of God.
A sword pieces Mary's heart because people turn away from her Son.
I feel that sorrow myself. When I fractured my leg, for a couple of days I couldn't say or attend Mass. I decided I would offer the only type of "Mass" I could. I would take the pain and impotence I was experiencing and lift it to God for a specific intention: our youth, especially for our young people who are lost, without God.
I realize older people fall into that category. The suicide rate among middle age men is distressing. Like Mary a sword pierces my heart when I think about them. So much darkness in our world affects them.
I often feel at a loss how to combat this darkness: the plague of pornography, drugs, partisan politics, suicidal thoughts that torment many young people - the list goes on. So much darkness. But you know, there is a saying, "Better to light one candle than curse the darkness." This is a good weekend to light a candle. At the end of Mass I will bless the candles we use in our worship. I will also bless candles for use in homes. During this week - the Octave of Candlemas - I will bless any candles you bring.
We have the great example of Mary. A sword pierced her heart but she is also called the morning star. When I see Venus, the morning star, on the horizon, I know dawn is near. Mother Mary - the morning star - signals the end of darkness. As we say in the blessing of candles, "Sanctify with your blessing these candles...so that treading the path of virtue we reach that light which never fails." Amen.
Homily Resisting Happiness Week 3: Delayed Gratification - with Catholic Community Service Testimony (Audio homily for Third Sunday of Advent, Year A 2016)
Faith & Truth (Audio homily for Third Sunday of Advent, Year A 2013)
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Ordinary Time leading up to Lent*
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
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