+EVEN ALL THE HAIRS OF YOUR HEAD ARE COUNTED 12TH Sunday A, 2017
God is very near to each one of our lives and Jesus tells us not to be afraid even when we run into conflict as is bound to happen. Each one of us here is asked to give witness daily to our faith, something we will naturally do if our faith is living and active. All that is going on in our hearts is manifest to God. What we hear whispered within through the grace of the Holy Spirit we are to proclaim on the housetops so that God’s love may be known to all around us whether they are willing to accept it or not.
We live in a world where there are a lot of different voices for good or bad and we can be sure that we will run into suffering and conflict if we stand up for what is right, just and loving. The power of sin is very real around us, the power of those who want to go to war, build larger weapons, exploit our natural resources, mistreat migrants, ignore the rights of the unborn, build up their wealth and power in ways that harm the poor and underprivileged. Those who speak out against these ways of acting, are the Jeremiahs of our own time and may hear from so called friends: “Perhaps he will be trapped; then we can prevail, and take our vengeance on him.” The suffering Christ who identifies with the least of our sisters or brothers is as present today as two thousand years ago.
At the same time our world is a place of wonderful hope for as St Paul reminds us this morning: “If by the transgression of the one the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many.” Amid the signs of evil in our time are many signs of transformation, of hope and encouragement.
The wisdom of Pope Francis is clearly a call to a greater awareness of just what Christ has accomplished and is bringing about in our world today. He tells us all:
“Practice the commandment of love, not on the basis of ideas or concepts, but rather on the basis of genuine interpersonal encounter. We need to build up this culture of encounter. We do not love concepts or ideas; no one loves a concept or an idea. We love people… Commitment, true commitment, is born of the love of men and women, of children and the elderly, of peoples and communities…of names and faces which fill our hearts. From those seeds of hope patiently sown in the forgotten fringes of our planet, from those seedlings of a tenderness which struggles to grow amid the shadows of exclusion, great trees will spring up, great groves of hope to give oxygen to our world.”
It does not take much to see the destructive forces in our society but right in the middle of it all is the living and active presence of the Holy Spirit as we move out of mere concepts and ideas into living encounter.
And it seems to me this is exactly what our Eucharist is inviting us into as we share in this bread and wine having become the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus. It is his love that brings us together, sustains us in our daily lives and empowers us to become groves of hope that give oxygen to our world.