Bottom line: In spite of life's terrible injustices, we have reason to trust Jesus.
This is the second homily in a seven part series on "The End Game": how to live Sub Specie Aeternitatis (from the perspective of eternity).
Last week we saw a man who tried to look at things from an eternal perspective. He asked Jesus: "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus saw something special in this man. As the Gospel says, "Jesus looking at him, loved him..." Unfortunately this man was so involved with his own preoccupations that he could not see Jesus' gaze of love. Instead, he went away sad. He could not place his complete trust in Jesus.
Trust is the key. Today's Psalm says, "Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you." The big question is, how do we place our trust in God? How do we say that prayer, "Jesus, I trust in you"? Since I was diagnosed with the abdominal aneurysm, I have become aware of people with much worse afflictions - emotional, familial and physical. One of my nephews came down with a strange and painful disease. He is much younger than me and has two young children. The question arises, how do we trust in God when such terrible things happen?
Today's Gospel provides a path. In Jesus we can see that God does not stand aloof from our world. Jesus says, "For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." What does this mean?
To understand how Jesus is "ransom" we have to go back to the Old Testament. In today's first reading, Isaiah speaks of a man who "gives his life as an offering for sin...through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear." Fulfilling this prophecy Jesus takes our guilt on his shoulders. He becomes a ransom for us.
The Letter to the Hebrews explains it this way: "we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin."
Jesus was tested and he passed the test. Because of that the Letter to the Hebrews says, "So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help."
People used to be able to walk into the White House legally and ask the president for some favor or to present a grievance. That's no longer possible in the White House. God, however, did not close access to his throne of grace. God will give timely help. Not my time or your time, but God's time.
For all Jesus does for us, we can trust in him. That does not mean injustices disappear. Still, when we look at the cross, we see that no one has suffered greater injustices than Jesus.
Our church architecture can help us focus on the cross. Before I came to St. Mary of the Valley, I spent fourteen years at Holy Family Seattle. I loved its architecture with the tabernacle right behind the altar. Here it's a little different. We have the tabernacle in the Blessed Sacrament chapel which is reserved for quiet prayer and small ceremonies. In that way our church is more like St. Peter's Basilica in Rome that has the Blessed Sacrament in a chapel on the side. It means no disrespect to Jesus truly present in the Eucharist.
Here at St. Mary of the Valley we have a crucifix right above the altar. When you come into our church, before you enter the pew, you should bow to the altar and the crucifix. When you bow, I encourage you to say, "Jesus, I trust in you."
When you come to your personal end game, that prayer will bring you across the finish line: Jesus, I trust in you. In spite of life's terrible injustices, we have reason to trust Jesus. He became a ransom for me and for you. We can approach his throne with confidence.
Last week we saw a man who failed to place his trust in Jesus. He missed his great opportunity. His possessions, his property and estates made him blind. Next week we have a man literally blind. He becomes a model for us because once he receives sight, he immediately begins to follow Jesus. That's for next week. Today we conclude with the beautiful words: "Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you." Amen
Spanish Version (Word document)
From Archives (28th Ordinary Sunday - Year B):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
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
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru