homily – September 24

Entrance Antiphon

I’d like to say a few words on what is called the Entrance Antiphon for today’s Mass. We usually don’t say this antiphon because we have an entrance hymn. It goes, “I am the savior of all peoples, says the Lord. Whatever their troubles I will answer their cry and I will always be their Lord.”

The other night I was watching Billy Graham’s daughter on TV. She’s written a new book and was being interviewed on it. The gist of her message and book was – unless you believe in Jesus as your Lord and Savior you cannot be saved. That’s it. She kept quoting Scripture — I am the way the truth and the life – No one can come to the Father except thru me. The interviewer asked, does that mean everyone else is lost. Her response was, “these are not my words, these are the words of Scripture – Jesus is the way – the only way to come to salvation.”

That’s a far cry from “I am the savior of all peoples – whatever their troubles I will answer their cry – I will always be their Lord.” It’s scary the way some people take ownership of God and God’s love and mercy. The TV news is overloaded with pictures of radical Moslems rallying and protesting and calling for the death of anyone who does not see God as they see God. Calling peoples of other faiths, infidels – basically lost souls.

But Christians have people of the same ilk. Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior or you’re done for. Accept God, accept Jesus as we do or you’re lost – damned forever and that’s not just for those who are non-Christian but other Christians as well. There was a time when we were taught ‘outside the Catholic Church there is no salvation’ – thank God we’ve moved beyond that.

For so many people it’s so difficult to deal with diversity – to relate to people who are different, ideas that are different, cultures and faiths that are different. Diversity is what makes the world go round – diversity permeates creation.

Hundreds of years ago St. Thomas wrote – we must say that the distinction and multitude of things – comes from the intention of God – Who brought all things into being. Because God’s goodness could not be adequately represented by any one creature alone God produced many and diverse creatures so that what was wanting to one in the representation of the divine good – might be supplied by another. For goodness, which in God is simple and uniform – in creatures is manifold and divided – hence the whole universe together – participates the divine goodness more perfectly – and represents that divine goodness better – than any single creature – because the divine wisdom is the cause of the distinction of all things.

The diversity we see around us in the multitude of species – in the diversity of peoples, cultures and faiths – all these are manifestations of the divine goodness.

Some one has said that the religions of the world should be focusing on what we have in common instead of what divides us. What we have in common is our belief in a supreme being – God, creator of all. What we have in common is a commandment of love. What we have in common is a command to care for our neighbour – what the many religions in the world could have in common is the project of working for world peace, ending poverty, promoting the dignity of every human being, promoting reverence for creation and working toward the healing of the earth.

Last Wednesday we had a wonderful gather of people. It was sponsored by a group called “faith and the common good” This group has a new project called ‘greening sacred spaces’ Our church was their flagship. They are encouraging temples and mosques and churches to be more efficient in their use of energy, to refit themselves to be more energy efficient and to encourage their people to be more conscious of their use of energy and their consumerism.

Our concept of Islam must reach beyond the images of enraged people protesting and burning images of the Pope or whoever else they feel insulted their faith. We would not want non Christians to see us as those who basically tell them they are lost if they do not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Diversity in all creation, diversity in the human family springs from the love of our creating God. That’s why it is important to remember the words “I am the savior of all peoples, says the Lord. Whatever their troubles I will answer their cry and I will always be their Lord.