Homily – 12th Sunday Ordinary Time – 25th June 2023
The scripture readings this weekend seems to focus on one element of the Christian response that is particularly worthy of attention. And that element simply enough is confidence.
A fairly calm, peaceful, even joyous acceptance of whatever it is that the unfolding of our lives may have in store for us. No matter what the situation may be in which we find ourselves, we must never give in to the temptation to let our experience be the one standard by which we judge the meaning, the value of that situation. We must, rather, be constantly open to a higher meaning, another interpretation that may not agree at all with what our experience has been. And for the authors of these three readings today, there is no doubt at all as to just what this unknowable force at work in our lives may be. It is the hand of God protecting, directing, guiding our lives along the lines of his plan for the development of humankind.
That’s easy enough to believe when our experience of a situation is a pleasant one. Pleasant experiences fit in very readily with our notion of what God’s plan should be. However, that’s not the case when our experience of a situation is unpleasant, painful, or even tragic.
It can become very difficult to experience the confidence of which the scriptural authors speak. And I think there are two steps towards making such a beginning.
The first step is to resist the temptation to write the script. The temptation to play God by mapping out ahead of time just what his plan should be, along what lines humanity should develop. That is true of our interaction with other human beings, and it is certainly true of our interaction with God. This is a difficult step because it involves living always in the presence of mystery.
The second step is to resist the temptation to expect God to act in our lives in the same way as do the other forces we experience around us. The presence of God is a very different sort of force. Its effects are experiential not from the outside, but from within. God’s protective hand which so encouraged Jerimiah in the first reading is seen not so much in what goes into making up the situation in which we find ourselves, but rather in the way in which human beings react to, cope with, and ultimately overcome the situation, however challenging or demanding it might be.
In the Gospel, Christ speaks to us of his most appealing words. They are simply, “Do not be afraid. You will not be destroyed.” No matter what happens, humankind, and each individual human person can and will if the choose, at a time and in a way that we simply cannot predict, overcome. Fr Andrew