Sunday the 25th Week in Ordinary Time
(Amos 8:4-7, 1 Timothy 2:1-8, Luke 16:1-13)
Queen Elizabeth quoted a verse from a WW II song when she addressed the English people during the COVID pandemic. “We’ll meet again, Don’t know where. Don’t know when. But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day” (Vera Lynn). These words came to mind as I reflected on the words of the prophet Amos. The prophet was heartbroken because the people God had chosen as his very own were unfaithful to the covenant. He could not fathom how the people made in God’s image and likeness refused to show loving-kindness to those in need. To him, it was mindboggling that people would choose to work themselves to death rather than allow themselves to find a resting place close to the heart of God. Moved with love and compassion for the people, Amos never lost hope that the people would someday meet again in the house of God.
God saw all that the prophet Amos saw, and in the fullness of time provided a remedy for the problem. Seeing that the people he loved would not make their resting place in him, God, the Incarnate Word, pitched his tent in our midst. God became a man to reveal man to himself. Because people have become engrossed in the stuff of the world they have lost touch with their inner selves and keep racing, this way and that, in search of meaning and happiness. I found this wonderful passage in the Rule of the Master: “Our journey through this world has burdened us with many sins of negligence. The running sweat of labor, with our shoulders weary from the weight of this baggage, has made us aware of the proximity of death and we gasp with a burning thirst threatening destruction” (Theme, 5-6). Seeing the mess, we have made of our lives, God whispers in the ears of our hearts. “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10).
When the Son of God became man, He revealed the Father’s heart to us. Because He is “the image of the invisible God” (Col.1:15) He restored the divine likeness that was lost by sin He who is the Way and the Truth, and the Life came to rescue the sons and daughters of his eldest brother from the Prince of Darkness and Lies. “Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear” (Gaudium et Spes, #22). Christ became a mirror that allows us to see what we are like. The Good Shepherd continues to seek out and reconciles those who have become strangers to God and themselves. The Word of God became our Brother in the Flesh so that we might find communion with His Father, meet again, and truly be the family God intended us to be. T.S. Eliot captures the thought in “Little Gidding”
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning…”
How awe-inspiring! To think that the Master of the Universe bowed down from his heavenly throne to listen to us. And more than that, the Beloved Son came down from heaven and took to himself our human nature so that he could take it with him when he returned to his heavenly throne. In him, we discover what we were meant to be in the beginning. A few moments ago, we heard these words taken from the first letter to Timothy: “God wills everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4). At a time when violence seems to have the last word, the people God loves, need to be more God-like and offer gestures of love and reconciliation. The best argument for these acts of love and forgiveness is that God loved and forgave us first (CF 1 Jn. 4:19). Every time we feel tempted to withhold forgiveness, we need to ponder how he descended to the depths of our poverty to raise us to the heights of his divinity. Everything we have is God’s gift to us. He has made us stewards of his loving kindness. Because of the infinite mercy of God, we will meet again and partake of the Banquet of the Lamb, who is “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the end” (Rev. 22:13). For those willing to engage in the process of healing of the world, the encounter will radiate meaning, excitement, and wonder.
Christ who enriched us with his poverty, calls us to perform spontaneous acts of kindness for those we meet. It is easier to hate and destroy than to build and cherish. Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does free us to walk into the future. Like the prophet Amos, we see sin, pain, and suffering. Having been enriched by the poor Christ, we seek to find peace, and joy in the eye of the storm. Because Christ has conquered sin and death, we know there is something – Someone — that transcends chaos and hatred. I am reminded of a quote from Julian of Norwich’s Revelations of Divine Love: ‘There needed to be sin, but all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” We are called to make visible and tangible the person of Christ. To complete the circle of our wanderings, we must be willing to team with God and extend a healing hand to the hurts of the world and be instruments of love to those in distress.
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;
At the source of the longest river
The voice of the hidden waterfall
And the children in the apple-tree
Not known, because not looked for
But heard, half-heard, in the stillness
Between two waves of the sea.
Quick now, here, now, always—
A condition of complete simplicity
(Costing not less than everything)
And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
(T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets)