ABBOT ELIAS DIETZ, O.C.S.O.
Homily: Anointing Mass, Nov. 20, 2018
[Wisdom 9:9-11, 13-18 | Romans 8:14-17 | Matthew 11:25-30]
There are things that the Father reveals only to the small, to infants. Obviously, in this Gospel Jesus is not talking about chronological age, because he is addressing those who labor and are heavy laden. Among the experiences in life that make us small, weigh us down, and wear us out, sickness and physical diminishment rank high.
These hard and heavy experiences are never welcome and often seem unfair. A spontaneous outcry is normal. But when sufferings become part of life or the new normal, it is up to us to choose our attitude toward the situation.
Rather than revolting against our unfortunate lot, the Book of Wisdom invites us to turn our diminishments into occasions for discovery. The first thing to discover is how limited our perspective is: “For the reasoning of mortals is worthless, and our designs are likely to fail,” we read. God’s counsel is infinitely deeper. Wisdom begins when we leave behind our self-interested calculations of what matters and of what is fair. Wisdom begins when we turn to God: “Who has learned your counsel, unless you have given wisdom and sent your holy Spirit from on high?” the Wisdom author asks.
But this change of perspective is not a matter of intellectual gymnastics or psychological slight-of-hand. It means leaving behind our self-reliance and
our self-centered fears. To put it in Saint Paul’s terms, it means letting go
of control and letting the Spirit guide us: “For all who are led by the Spirit
of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall
back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship.”
In the middle of our assembly this evening we place those among us who
labor and are heavy laden, those who are experiencing various kinds of
diminishment, those who feel small, if you will. They need the prayers of
the strong and healthy, and the strong and healthy need to learn from
them how to turn hardship into an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord
and to find true rest in him.
May this sacrament help us all to transform our anguished outcries into the
ultimate prayer: Abba! Father!