Sometimes when it comes time for me to write my Sunday homilies, several seemingly disparate things converge in my mind as I offer my reflection. So I hope this comes from the Spirit.
The first thing comes from The Christian Prayer Book, which is the book used by many for the Liturgy of the Hours. For morning prayer there is what is called the Benedictus, from Luke 1:68-79. At evening prayer there is what is called the Magnificat, from Luke 1:46-55. Associated with these are antiphons, and for Sundays the antiphons are related to the Gospel readings for Cycles A, B, and C. Sometimes before I look at all the readings, I glance at the corresponding antiphon to get an early idea about the Gospel. The antiphon corresponding to this Sunday is “Where your treasure is, there is your heart, says the Lord.”
The second thing comes from Sirius Radio. One program a few weeks ago highlighted a study that looked at a correlation between abortion and the crime rate. When I first heard that, I said to myself, “Is this going to be for or against abortion?” After a while, it became clear and I said to myself again, “Great! Another justification for abortion!” Now I ask those who are reading this who have strong feelings about abortion to take a breath, because there was something in the part of the discussion that I heard that did make sense to me, and it was about the negative effects of being unwanted. In fact, the word, “unwantedness” was used to describe this condition.
The third thing is the violence we have heard about in El Paso and Dayton. It seems to me that the hatred expressed in horrendous violence in those places and others, and expressed in other, less lethal ways (“Send her back!”) in our country and around the world tells us that “unwantedness” is not just associated with abortion. If we go back to how some refugees were greeted years ago in some of our cities and towns, and what happened in Charlottesville, when white supremacists shouted about taking their country back, and in many of the mass shootings in our country, are they not all saying some version of “We don’t want you?” “We don’t want you in our neighborhood! We don’t want you in our country!” And sometimes it is to the extreme “We don’t want you anywhere on the face of this earth!”
Maybe “unwantedness” is what we need to work against. It can come from fear (As I heard in a homily on Wednesday). It can come from hate. No matter where it comes from, as Christians we need to work against it in all its forms. Which brings us to our Gospel reading, and the one verse found in that antiphon. The New American Bible translation is slightly different from the one found in the prayer book, but its meaning is still the same: “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” If our “treasure” is our relationship to God and the coming of the kingdom, the way we focus on that treasure in our daily lives is to treasure the life and well-being of every human and of all creation, i.e., to love as Jesus does. Could we see our “treasure” then, in the lives of those who are different from us as well as those who are like us? Could our love of God be developed in our hearts to such an extent that we consider no one unwanted, from the unborn to the elderly and the ill and everyone in-between? Or have our divisions made us deaf to Jesus’ words? Have we become too addicted to greed and violence?
In these times, these are the kind of challenges the Scripture present to us. As we strive to hold all as precious, as we believe God does, may we continue to proclaim life and see the treasure we have in each other.
Fr. Phil, CP