“And Also With You”

Posted in: Homilies

July 22, 2018 Click on the left end of the black bar to play/pause

July 22, 2018
Ephesians 4:13-18; John 6:1-15
Fr. George Smiga

Most of us remember before the implementation of New Roman Missal that our responses at mass followed a different translation. So, for example, at the beginning of the mass the Priest greets the people, “The Lord be with you,” and now we say, “And with your spirit.” Does anyone remember the old response? Yes, it was, “And, also with you.” So in the old translation the Priest would say, “The Lord be with you,” and everyone would say, “And, also with you.” And, of course, just like today, this response became automatic. A Priest I know told me of an incident that occurred in his parish with the old translation. They had just put a new sound system in the church. At the beginning of mass the Priest was fumbling with his remote mike which was not responding. Finally in frustration he said, “There’s something wrong with this mike.” And everyone responded, “And also with you.”

It’s a silly story, but it points to a truth. There is something wrong with all of us. None of us are perfect people. That truth can be helpful to us today as we face the challenge of today’s second reading. Today The Letter to the Ephesians describes the mission of Jesus in clear and powerful terms. It tells us that Jesus has come to tear down the wall of hostility that divides us from one another, to make us one by his cross. So the mission of Jesus is a mission of unity, a mission that calls us to tear down the walls that divide us from one another. But this mission is great challenge because our world is filled with walls that divide us: walls that divide one country from another, one race from another, walls that divide Democrats and Republicans, citizens and immigrants, those who are gay and those who are straight. We cannot walk too far in our world without confronting a wall, and the walls are strong. They have been built up over the years out of fear, misunderstanding, and self-interest.

So, how can we even begin to follow Jesus’ command that we tear the walls down? We can begin by remembering the truth that comes from the silly story with which I began my homily. There is something wrong with all of us. None of us are perfect. When we look over a wall and say, “There’s something wrong with that person there,” it is crucial to remember that something is wrong also with us. The thing we share with every person and every group of people is imperfection. Therefore, our shortcomings, our failures, our blind spots can provide common ground for us to understand others. If we approach people believing we are perfect and superior, we will never understand what others think or feel. But, if we can approach others humbly, aware of our mistakes, we become more open and more willing to communicate.

Jesus calls us to work against those things that divide us from one another. That begins by realizing that whenever we decide a person’s idea or attitude is wrong, it is also with us. It is only when we mutually share our weakness that we begin to understand why we need one another and how we can work together to tear down the walls that endanger understanding and peace in our world.

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