From the Pulpit: October 8, 2017

October 8, 2017                   27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Introduction

This week I met a young man by the name of Kevin.

  • I took a few days off this week for some time of rest and prayer.
  • As I was checking into the hotel, the clerk asked me for my credit card and ID.
  • So, I gave him my driver’s license from Wyoming.
  • He looked up and said, “I notice you are a priest.”
  • “O yes, “I said. “I’m a priest from Wyoming. There really aren’t very many of us in Wyoming. So, how are you doing today.”
  • I’m doing really well. Can I tell you what happened to me” he said.
  • I replied, “OK, so are you Catholic.”
  • He responded, “Oh Yes.”
  • He proceeded to tell me that he had gone online and purchased tickets for last weekend’s concert in Las Vegas.
  • Everything was set and he had plans to go.
  • At the last minute, however, the boss asked him to work the weekend.
  • Since he had been at this job for only three weeks, he reluctantly agreed.
  • His weekend seemed to be spoiled and he was so disappointed.

Of course you know what happened in Las Vegas.

  • He just knew that God was looking out for him.
  • He admitted how God works in such strange ways.
  • He could easily have been one of the injured or killed.

Why does God allow bad things to happen?

This got me thinking about all the bad things that have happened in the last couple of weeks.

  • Last weekend was the largest mass shooting in US history with 58 people losing their lives and over 500 wounded.
  • Then there have been the hurricanes, floods and earthquakes.
  • For the most part, the island of Puerto Rico has been pretty much destroyed. There’s no water, electricity, or cell service. I’m sure that in time many lives will be lost due to diseases.
  • Why is the world such a mess?

Gospel

However, the more important question is this, “why do good things happen?”

Why is there any good in the world at all?

  • To answer some of these questions, we need to look at the Gospel story for this weekend.
  • The story is told by Jesus in response to criticism from the temple authorities.
  • They asked the question,” by what authority do you do these things?”
  • Jesus tells a story.
  • Again, we have another story about a vineyard.
  • The owner leases out his property to tenant farmers.
  • It seems the Vineyard must have done very well because there is an abundance of grapes.
  • Now it’s time for harvest.
  • Because of the abundance of the crop, now the owner wants his share of it.
  • You know what happens,
  • Every single messenger that he sends is either killed or run off.
  • Finally, he does the strangest thing. He decides to send his own son. Erroneously he believes that they will respect his son. Boy was he wrong!
  • In a sense, this makes you wonder what he was thinking.
  • Of course, he sends his son and they kill him because they want the vineyard.
  • In the parable, there is a direct correlation to Israel, the prophets and ultimately Jesus as the son of the owner of the vineyard who is God himself.
  • Yes, Jesus is the one who is taken out of the Vineyard and crucified.

The cross

Somehow the mystery of why bad things happen and why there is still goodness in the world is tied up in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

  • The parable reminds us that it is Jesus who is the Son who gave his life on the cross.
  • The Romans used the cross to terrorize people. The cross and crucifixion were the ultimate symbols of cruelty beyond human imagining, violence and death.
  • On this terrible instrument of torture Jesus took to himself all of the cruelty, hatred and injustice that exists in the human heart.
  • In a sense, he allowed violence to be done to himself.
  • In a moment all of that was swallowed up in the struggle of his death. Ultimately in that moment on the cross, as Jesus entered into death, death It’s self was destroyed.

Remember what Jesus his last words were?

Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. “

  • Of course you know, this is not the end of the story.
  • It would’ve been quite different if Jesus was buried and never rose from the dead.
  • He would merely be remembered as a great moral teacher.
  • However, through the power of the Holy Spirit God the Father reached out his hand and Jesus rose from the dead.
  • In that triumphal moment death, hatred, injustice, and evil were destroyed by the love of God manifest in Jesus his son.
  • God’s love is more powerful than anything the world could throw at us

For Christians the symbol of the cross was not a symbol of cruelty and hatred but the symbol of the triumph of God‘s love.

  • The cross became a sign of hope.
  • In the cross the definitive battle and victory has been one.
  • Think of it this way, when we lift up the cross, when we gaze upon the cross, we are saying that God won.
  • Ultimately the cross has become the sign of hope because in it is the definitive victory of God over evil.
  • That is the reason why there is still good in the world.
  • Yes, bad things happen and the world may be a mess, but that’s not the final answer.
  • As Christians we know that there is more to the story than that.
  • The cross is the sign of hope for us just as it was for the early Christians.

GOSPEL CHALLENGE

The gospel challenge this week is easy but it’s going to involve a little work on your part.

  • Here’s what I’m going to ask you to do.
  • I’m going to ask you to offer one hour of your Time either at work or at school for the repose of the soul of one of the victims of the shooting in Las Vegas.
  • I want you to offer that prayer time for them by name.
  • So, that means you’ll need to go on the Internet and get the name of one of those people.
  • Some were young people, others newly married, one was a teacher, one a fireman, one a policeman, and people from various backgrounds and from different parts of the country.
  • Please choose one of them, pray for them, and offer of one hour of your time for the repose of their soul.

Conclusion

Yes, bad things happen and the world seems to be in a mess.

  • However, there is still much good in the world and there are good people.
  • We just have to remember that the cross stands as the symbol of hope.
  • Yes, Jesus died on the cross but he rose from the dead. The definitive victory is his. The cross stands for that victory.
  • Because of this, we can be a people of hope for the world.