Bottom line: We live with reality of death, but Jesus offers the hope of his kingdom.
In today's first reading Isaiah speaks of the "web that is woven over all nations." Like a spider's web death can unexpectedly engulf a person, making a mockery of dreams and hopes.
I think of the assassination of President Kennedy. The web of death put a violent end to the dream of an American Camelot.
Earlier this year I experienced the web of death in a more personal way - the tragic death of my Peruvian godson, Fr. Narciso Valencia. On a much smaller scale than President Kennedy his death shattered plans and dreams of many people, including me.
Death is the web woven all people. The ancient Greeks observed that we are different from the gods (or angels) because unlike them we must die. And even though the other animals are mortal like us, we differ from them because we humans alone seem to live with the constant awareness of death. Death is the web woven over all nations.
So Isaiah confronts the awesome reality of death that no man can escape. Yet he declares that one day God will break that web - as a child brushes away a spider web.
Breaking a spider web sounds messy. Perhaps it hints at the crucifixion. Isaiah has a second image, much lovelier. He says God will "lift the veil." At the end of wedding a groom might lift his bride's veil. The wedding night of course involves an unveiling.
The marital imagery continues as Isaiah describes a magnificent banquet - rich juicy meat and choice wine. As we hear in the Gospel Jesus invites us to a wedding banquet.
While we await that day we live with the reality of death. It will enclose each one of us. But Jesus offers us a hope that gives us reason to continue in spite of the inevitability of death. It's not a hope that someone on earth will remember you or me. Even for a person as famous as President Kennedy, the memory will fade. A typical person carries the memory of his parents and grandparents but few know much about their great grandparents.
Human memory fades like smoke, but the Bible teaches us to say, "Remember me, O Lord." Like the repentant theif we should pray, "Jesus, remember me...in your kingdom." I am currently offering that prayer on behalf of my friend and godson, Narciso Valencia, as I join his brother, sister and family members at a Mass near his tomb.
Yes, we live with reality of death, but Jesus offers the hope of his kingdom. He alone breaks the web of death. He alone will lift the veil. Amen.
From Archives (Twenty-Eighth Ordinary Sunday, Year A):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources)
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)
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
Parish Picture Album
Bulletin (St. Mary's Parish)
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru