Engagement with the World

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May 20, 2018 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

May 20, 2018
John 24: 19-23
Fr. George Smiga

Sometimes we imagine that faith in Jesus Christ is a personal matter, a way of coping with the difficulties of living and assuring eternal life. No small part of today’s feast of Pentecost is intended to remind us that this personal approach is incomplete. Now of course, our faith helps us deal with life’s challenges, with sickness, failure, betrayal, and death. But disciples of Jesus know that their ultimate call is to participate in the transformation of the world.

Today’s responsorial psalm sets the tone for the feast: “Lord, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.” Now God’s spirit certainly comforts us in our pain and guides us through our doubt. But God’s spirit is also a fire, intending to burn out and destroy everything in our world that is opposed to God’s will.

And the scope of the spirit is universal. Look at the number of places Luke mentions in today’s first reading. Pentecost takes place in Jerusalem, but it affects people from Egypt, Libya, Rome, and twelve other places. Clearly the role of the spirit is not some local concern, but a universal one. God’s spirit intends to renew the face of the earth.

Our call then, as followers of Jesus, is to become engaged in the issues of our world. To work for justice wherever injustice is found. When the risen Christ appears to the apostles in today’s gospel, they are huddled in a locked room. Jesus comes to tell them they must leave that room behind. He says, “As the Father sent me, so do I send you.” Jesus calls upon disciples to leave the security of the locked room and work for justice in our world.

So disciples of Jesus are meant to be agents of change in our world. What issues, what causes are we called to undertake? There are many choices, and we are free to choose those opportunities that match our experience and our gifts. Pope Francis has spoken eloquently upon the threat to the environment of the earth. What can I do to somehow lessen the waste that is so much a part of our American culture? How can I use my political leverage to ensure policies that will be more protective of our planet? Catholic teaching is clear that every person has the right to immigrate to another country in a just way. How can I lend my voice to the voice of others who are seeking to establish a just and generous immigration policy for our country? Human life in our society is threatened by abortion, poverty and neglect of the elderly. What can I do in my own community to see that human life is protected from the forces that threaten to destroy it?

In our own parish, we provide opportunities for action. Two weeks ago, you heard an appeal to participate in our Adult Learning Center, to help the clients there achieve a high school diploma and build a better future. This weekend, our Pastoral Council again invites you to participate in Neighbor-to-Neighbor meal, which strives to lessen hunger and loneliness. There are many options we can choose. Choose one and act.

Faith in Jesus is more than a comfort and a promise of salvation. Faith calls us to become engaged in the issues of our world. We pray, “Lord send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.” It is only reasonable then to conclude that God’s work of renewal will move through us.

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