Homily – December 17, 2017

There is a term Pope Francis often uses when he tries to sensitize us to the blights of poverty and injustices suffered by our brothers and sisters around the world, he calls it ‘global indifference’. These so many nameless people just like the man who fell among thieves on the road to Jericho and was avoided or worse still ignored by other travellers. Finally a Samaritan, himself an outsider to the Jewish community came to the victim’s rescue.

When Jesus told this story to people he ended it by telling them, ‘go thou and do likewise.’ In other words, be there for those who need you as best you can.

When Jesus began his public ministry he came home to Nazareth and like an observant Jew went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. He was asked to do a reading and the reading for that day was the same as our first reading at our Mass today.

Making the words of Isaiah his own Jesus read,’ the Lord has anointed me, he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and release to prisoners and proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. And Jesus would say to us today who may be caught up in global indifference, ‘go thou and do likewise.’

Not one of us here is going to head to the refugee camps in Iraq or Turkey or Jordan, of Yemen or Bangladesh or other camps around the world. The best we can do is to send a donation to those agencies that help the people in these areas. Can we hear the words of Isaiah and Jesus as challenges to us to ‘be there’ not only for those in distant lands but for those in our own homes, our relatives, our friends, our co – workers?

There’s a song that sings, no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. We can be so caught up in our own concerns, our own projects that we become too dense to appreciate what is going on in our own families or among our friends or co-workers? Questions. Are we willing to aware of and be there for the oppressed, people we know who may be oppressed by financial burdens, oppressed by unfair working conditions, oppressed by depression and discouragements?

Can we be there for the broken hearted; people we know to be grieving for deceased loved ones? Can we support spouses dealing with divorce or marriage breakdown? What can we do for a relative or a friend held captive by his or her addictions?

What about family members who are still brooding over past hurts or slights? Can we make an effort to be for them and encourage them to let the past be past? Are we patient and understanding and supportive of sons and daughters, young adults who are still trying to figure out their uncertain futures? Do we spend the time and listen to mothers and fathers held captive in dementia appreciating that their situations could be our future?

There is a saying, ‘The law works from the feet up’ wherever we are we follow that law. The grace of God works from the feet up as does the mercy of God. We don’t have to go looking for it. The challenges of God work from the feet up. We don’t have to go looking for them – they are where we are.

The question is; are we open to receive God’s love and are we willing to accept the challenge, ‘whatever you do for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine you do to me.’