Homily – 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Great to be with you again. I came here and I think it was freezing. And then it became like 60 degrees and then it was like raining all day. So I got a little bit of everything here. There’s during this week and I was also able to get a little bit of everyone, everyone in who I saw this past week is a very eventful week, but we get to cap it off with a baptism of good friends of mine, Janette and Alex’s brand new baby, Eli.

So full name Anders Eli. And we’ll give him the respect by calling him his full name. But we’re very thankful that they’re able to come here today. And I’m very thankful to be able to baptize Eli. You know, so I mentioned about the weather kind of being up and down and maybe we’re a little bit down today because it’s raining.

It’s a little dreary. So I thought, what better way to begin this homily than to get even more down? And. Right, we’re already there. We might as well stay too down there. All right. So, you know, I was thinking about, you know, what I just heard with the readings and things like that. And I was thinking instantly about the time that we’re living in.

How will we describe our times that we’re in? What is this the age of? And the word that comes to me as it came very clearly in the second reading from Saint Paul is that I think that we are in an age of anxiety and age of anxiety. Now, you with me, we’re nice and low now, right?

We’re depressed. Okay. Right.

It is an age of anxiety and I want to kind of call it what it is because it’s very important, especially when we come to church, do not somehow think that we can what we call spiritually bypass the situations that we’re in. We’re in a very dark time. All right. And we have to call it for what it is and trying to sugarcoat things or talk about a rosy message isn’t necessarily very helpful, is an age of anxiety.

And I say that because I’ve been reminded of that in numerous ways over the last couple of weeks. First off, I was talking to my spiritual director. She’s a religious sister, and she goes around the country giving retreats to schools, and she was with a group of middle schoolers. So this is like 6, 7, 8 graders. And they were asking her questions like, Sister, how can I pray so that I will not feel so much anxiety like an eighth grader asking that question.

I don’t think I even knew what anxiety was when I was in eighth grade. Right. And then yesterday I was hanging out with the, well, beloved Father Bill Smith in his new hood, Bed-Stuy, which is like hipster land. Now. And I’m sitting there, you know, and next to me is this these two young women. And this young woman was just going on and on talking about her issues with anxiety to her friend.

It was hard not to overhear, especially when a lot of four letter words were dropped. And then I also think about the fact that I’m a high school teacher and I love being with high school students, and especially this current crop of students I have. I teach a class to seniors and it’s called The Search for Human Meaning. That’s the name of the class to search for human meaning. And it’s a very pivotal class for these students who are leaving their high school years and going into college, trying to think that they have to figure everything out about their whole lives when they’re not even like, say, 18 years old.

Yeah, right. That’s a lot of anxiety. So I’m kind of always just running into so many people who are anxious for so many reasons. And we know that the times that we live in are just clouded with anxiety. COVID was a very anxious time for us and we kind of got out of that, but we’re still kind of in it.

At the same time, we really don’t know what’s going on. Not to mention, like our political climate, 2024, guess what? We have another of these silly presidential elections. Again, I can’t believe we have to do this again. Right. It’s it brings so much anxiety. It doesn’t matter even who you’re supporting or you don’t. It just causes anxiety eating right.

And then if you want to kind of think that you’re going to find some refuge in church, well, guess what? Everyone seems to be divided in the church, too. And everyone’s like thinking that they love the pope. They don’t like the pope. They like this. They like it’s like what’s going on? Right. It’s a crazy anxious time. I can amen for that at least a man.

All right, good. You’re alive. Great. Well, the thing that I want to kind of say is that what we also hear in the word today, the gospel, is this other a word? The word of a authority. And I was thinking about that. What causes us to be anxious is because who or what have we given authority to in our lives?

Who have we said has authority over us? Because I can guarantee you that’s probably where a lot of your anxiety comes from. If you really think that your authority comes from political leaders, you’re going to be anxious. If you really think that your authority comes from popes and bishops and people like me, you’re going to be anxious if your authority comes from your boss, you’re going to be anxious if it comes from your spouse or from your children, you’re going to be anxious whenever you give a certain level of authority to a person, to an institution, to a some type of entity that you always have to somehow answer to or you feel you are committed to in some type of act of loyalty. There cause a certain types of anxiety for the simple reason that whatever that thing is, where that source of authority is, it doesn’t always resonate with you. Something may be off. You may not want it to be off, but it is off. So the thing that I really work on with my students, especially in my class, research for human meaning, is to just affirm the fact.

First off, it doesn’t matter if you are a card, a card carrying Catholic or a closet atheist. Everyone has made the decision to say yes to life without ever agreeing to be born. If you’re breathing right now, and I hope to God you all are right, that means in some ways you’ve had to you have said yes to this thing called life.

And it’s kind of funny because you didn’t choose to be here. No one chose to be born right now. We chose to live in this time, period. No one chose to go through a pandemic. And we chose to be in the age of anxiety. No one chose any of that stuff. But in some ways you’re still breathing. So that is at least some type of tacit thing.

All right. I’m going to go along with this. And you go along with this probably because you’re hoping in your most inner self that your life is meaningful that there is a purpose for being here, that there is a reason to wake up every morning. I would hope that there’s at least a smidgen of that. It doesn’t believe what type of God you believe in or anything like that.

I think everyone who’s breathing has something like that going on. So the question is, do we seek what we’re supposed to do outside of us, or could it possibly be that there’s something deep buried within us, what I would call an inner voice, that if you do not listen to, you are not going to be fulfilled as a person.

You will struggle through life. Because if you start thinking that, okay, I just got to look around the world and get examples of people who seem to have it together and then say, okay, well, that looks like a really nice life. Let me this degree so I can get that type of job so I can make this type of money so I could live in this type of house, in this type of city, if that’s the whole thing that you have as your motivation for waking up in the morning.

Well, congratulations. You’re probably living someone else’s life, someone else’s vocation. But if you want to be true to yourself, I say this as soon as you have to somehow go into the inner self. But that’s kind of so abstract. What the heck does that mean to go to your inner self? What is that all about? Well, here’s the catch.

The inner self, the inner voice is only heard when it resonates with someone who speaks it outside of you. Resonates. Resonates is what we like. And the musician last last Sunday, I torment you with my singing. All right. But when something resonates like a chord, it sounds harmonious. Like a chord. Beautiful, right? Look at that C Right on that one.

But if you are somehow always trying to live someone else’s life, which is not really what you feel really you’re supposed to do, it sounds a little bit like this, right? Right. It’s like and you’re and there’s a level of frustration thinking like, well, wait a minute, they seem to have it all together. Why can’t I just have this all perfectly together?

If I just followed the nice, neat path that someone else followed? Because it’s not your path and you have that form of dissidence in your life, something’s not resonating with what you really want to do. So How do you go about trying to find resonance? I tell my students I said, Here’s a deal. It requires you to pay attention to everything, or at least to whatever you can in the moments.

And when you’re speaking to someone, I can almost kind of say that 95% of what a person is saying to you does not resonate really much with you at all. And maybe talking about this, about that everything, 95% of what you may watch on TV or what you see on the Internet probably doesn’t really resonate with you in any type of meaningful way.

But there’s probably 5% that a person saying or that you see on TV or on the Internet that will resonate. But if you’re not paying attention to the 95%, you’re going to miss the 5%. So it requires like a hyper type of sense of knowing that every moment matters. If I’m breathing, this moment matters. I have to be paying attention.

And the minute I see or hear something that attracts me, I know it’s resonate with my inner voice and I can almost hear my inner voice speak through this other person’s speaking. And this to me is the great opportunity for us to call ourselves Christians in the age of anxiety. This is what we can offer to the world that in every situation with any single person who’s breathing and they’re only breathing because God says yes to their life, you will be able to somehow hear the inner voice being spoken to you.

You’ll be able to somehow hear how God is speaking to you through another person especially. And here’s the kick. The person you most fundamentally disagree with or have a problem with. All right, Notice I’m prepping you for the November election right now. Okay. Because listen to what happens in the gospel today. There’s a pretty disagreeable person who Jesus encounters.

He’s a possessed man. He has a demon acting on him, causing problems. No one likes to be around possessed people. But what does this possessed man actually say? I know who you are. Jesus. You are the Holy one of God. You’re the Holy one of God. Is that a true statement, Yasir? Yes. Yes, sir. Yes. Come on. You’re my stance today.

All right. Even the demon says something that’s true. Says something that resonates with the very reality of who Jesus is. The Holy one of God. So if Jesus has this happened encounter with someone who’s so messed up, but yet is still capable of saying something that is true, who do we think we are to right people completely off thinking they have nothing to offer to the world?

Because guess what? Who thinks they have something to offer? God It’s God who allows anyone to be breathing. That includes the most heinous people that we know in this world, the ones who have caused some of the deepest hurtful things to people, the ones who hurt or in prisons and jails, who’ve committed horrible crimes. People have done horrible, horrible things, but somehow God still has faith in those people because they’re still breathing.

And hopefully it takes us to a place to realize that all of us are not perfect. All of us hurt people. All of us have said things that really have either mocked the person, tear them down, whatever it could be. But we come here today to recognize that in this baptismal water and on this altar, there is a sign that we are made for these times.

We are made to allow our own broken ness to become a source of healing for broken people. We receive a broken God on this altars. The first thing I do before you receive communion breaking the house. A broken God is on the altar and it’s below hanging a broken God on a cross and it’s the broken God who communes with each of us here.

And in that moment of where we are able to encounter our brokenness in and through God, we realize that when we gaze upon the wounds of other people, the things that they spew out of their mouth, that’s actually the broken Christ, because everyone is somehow just dying to jump into this water of rebirth and doing the best they can with what they got in the best they can with what they got.

So today we come here with hope, knowing that all is not lost. Yeah We’re in an age of anxiety. Yeah, it’s really crummy. I wish that we weren’t. But the reality is that your inner voice is calling to you through other people, knowing that even in this time you have a mission to be a presence of healing to others. People who are trying to also find theirs as well. Amen. Let’s have another baptism to remind us of really what it is that we’re called to. Let’s do it!