Homily for the 20th Sunday in ordinary time.
Updated: Nov 18
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10: Hebrews 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-53
Saint John Baptist de la Salle August 14, 2022
They were legally blocked from using a rabbit. So, they considered a cow, then a horse, then a chimp, and even a frog. But Walt Disney decided on a mouse named Mortimer for his first cartoon character. A short time later he would change the name before his debut in "Steamboat Willie." This was going to become the first cartoon with synchronized video and sound. It was Mickey Mouse who first spoke to us as though he were a human being. So, if you were going to create character that we humans most resemble, what would you choose?
I believe the choice is clear, it's not an eagle, a bear, a chimp, or even a mouse. We are clams. We are clams, because we cannot help but live in our enclosed worlds. We dwell within our protective shells, safe from what might harm us, but certainly not fully open to what lies beyond. Indeed, we are challenged, even to believe the stories of a land above the sand and waters that we know. Within those shells, the world in which we live, are those whom we love. And there is nothing more painful to us in experiencing a division with one of our loved ones. An outright conflict or even a war might even be easier. We move well enough from love to hatred. No, the great sorrow in our life is loving someone who does not love what we love, who does not share our values. Here I offer you some examples. Someone we love begins to love someone we could never love. We are sure that our own loved one will be hurt, and that fear causes us great pain. Or think of the parent who deeply loves their church, and who cannot think of their child not practicing the same. What of the child, who rejects the very shell from which it emerged? To be an adult means staying far from parents, safe inside its new shell.
The heart was not made for division, so we believe that in heaven our strife will be over. But in this life, we will sometimes experience great pain from those that we love. We will not always value the same things. The world, which God opened to the prophet, threatened the world where he was living. So, they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah, which was in the mud, and Jeremiah sank into the mud. quarters of the guard, letting him down with ropes. Jesus said that he had come to create division among us. Is not that the role of the evil one, rather than the Lord of life? But the ruptures of this world were already quite well formed. We have always been a sea of closed, often conflicting clams. Jesus asks us to make one more choice, to choose him.
Like any other choice, it closes us to some of the world in which we live. No matter what we choose we are still clams; we were not created to live without shells. But if we choose this love, if we choose Jesus, we will grow. No matter how difficult life becomes for us, love must continue to grow. We must strive to love the other, despite our conflicts and misunderstandings. We should never presume that all sin lies on just one side. And perhaps we can even learn to accept the love of those, who, for a time, take the place of a loved one. "Consider how he endured such opposition from sinners, in order that you may not grow weary and lose heart." The Letter to the Hebrews comes to an end by considering Jesus' own experience of conflict and division. "For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God." Divisions do end, even on earth. Do not lose hope. Our shells can grow as we age and those of others can as well. In the meantime, we must love as best we can. We hold the grain of hurt inside our shell, and we do what we can to not cause pain in return. Life has its purpose; this is how God creates pearls.