Homily 19th Sunday Year A 13 August 2023

Posted on 13th August, 2023

Homily for 19th Sunday of Year A

SVP 13 august 2023


Last week, I had the privilege of blessing a couple's marriage They have been married 10 years in the eyes of the state, and she and her husband have been together for 15 or more years. They have two children, one of whom is now at secondary school. (We could say there is nothing unusual about their situation.)


The parish priest invited me to officiate at the marriage, as they are family, and he agreed with me that we were not blessing the beginning of a new marriage but giving thanks that they now want to bring a new element into their marriage, God. How could we ignore the truth of the matter, that have two lovely children, that they are lovely because their parents love them and care for them?  And how can we ignore that they are married in the eyes of the larger community in which they live? What we did on Saturday was bring this marriage to the heart of the Catholic Community and ask God to bless it. The woman and her husband made their marriage vows, as they did before the registrar 10 years ago, but this time they were entrusting their lives as a couple to God and dedicating their marriage and their children to God in a way they did not before.


This is surely a sign of a growth in their faith, a huge step forward and a new inclusion of God in their lives. They are making space for God in their couple and in their family. I was so happy to be part of this conversion. It is never too late for any couple to turn to God and allow God into their lives.


While we were celebrating this renewal in the north of Scotland, Pope Francis was in Portugal, at the Word Youth Day celebrations, inviting the young people to renew their faith and their commitment to the Lord. No doubt, you heard that there were 1 ½ million young people at Mass with the Pope on Sunday. Pope Francis made many pertinent observations to the young people gathered there. But one of the most important, it seems to me, was his statement that the Church is a welcoming Church; not a fortress church holding back the dangers of secularism, but an open Church, open to everyone, just as Christ welcomed everyone who came to him.


"The Lord does not point a finger, but opens wide his arms: Jesus showed us this on the cross," Francis declared. "He does not close the door, but invites us to enter; he does not keep us at a distance, but welcomes us."


This is the message of Jesus Christ: “Come to me all you who are over-burdened and I will give you rest”. Take heart”, he says in today’s gospel. “Take heart, do not be afraid”.


When we speak of being a welcoming church, we are saying that all are welcome, no one is excluded. For the church is not a church of the perfect but of the sinners, of those who recognise their need of forgiveness and mercy. Jesus Christ is that forgiveness and that mercy, which only God can give. We need Jesus if we wish to live a wholesome and joyful life.


"There is room for everyone in the church and, whenever there is not, then, please, we must make room, including for those who make mistakes, who fall or struggle," Pope Francis told the young people. Then, later, on the plane back to Rome, he insisted that everyone has a place in the church, without discrimination or exception: "The Lord is clear," "The sick, the elderly, the young, old, ugly, beautiful, good and bad."  Everyone: “Todos, todos, todos”, he said three times to the reporters on the plane.

“Come as you are”, says Jesus. “Come to my banquet”. I do not wait for you to repent, I do not wait for you to change, when you come there will be time for that. Come to me.


So, this is how we want it to be in our community of disciples. If the Lord accepts each of us as we are and loves us as we are, surely, we too can do the same with each other. No pointing of fingers. If the Lord opens his arms to me, surely, I can open my arms to the other, no matter how different they me be to me. We are all one in the One Lord.


Let us remember, when Elijah reached Horeb, the Mountain of God, in search of God. He did not find God in the noise of activity, nor in the power of an earthquake, or the speed of a flash of lightning. He found God in the quietness of a gentle breeze, that barely ruffled the hair of his head. If we take the time we need each day to be quiet in the Lord, quietly reading his Word or silently sitting in peace, emptying our mind of thoughts, we too will discover God. We will discover God, not only in that quiet moment of prayer, but in every encounter with another person. For the relationship we open to in prayer, will repeat itself in every encounter with another, whoever they may be. We will be open to the Spirit of God living in them. And we will welcome her with open hearts.


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