One of the passages from the Bible that is read at funerals at times comes from the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. It begins with these words: “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens” and concludes with these words: “There is a time to love and a time to hate, a time of war and a time of peace.” We are all very aware of the war going on in Ukraine. How horrible to see the death and destruction of the people there. How and when will peace come? In our own nation we do not physically have a war but we certainly see a lot of hatred and anger. Will love ever become our guiding light?
In the first reading from today’s Mass we see the optimistic, faith-filled hope expressed from the book of Revelation where St. John says: “Then I John, saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away and the sea was no more.” As we look at our world and at our nation those words express a great hope but seem like a fairy tale. We are certainly not living happily ever after in a fairy tale. St. John calls us to see things in a new way, God’s way, expressed and given to us through Jesus. Looking at ourselves and others, where we are and where we need to go takes great courage and hope. The new earth St. John sees is a different way of living than we experience in our world and nation today. To see things, life, and people differently is not always easy to accept or to do. It is through the gift of faith that this light begins to dawn. In Jesus we see wisdom, miracles, wisdom, and humility at odds with the status quo of His time. Just like today, people were defending and protecting their comfort zones. Seeking comfort can close our minds to insights and challenges that will enrich and strengthen our lives and the lives of those we touch.
The challenges we face are many: an upswing in Covid cases once again, rising prices in fuel and almost everything else, immigration problems at our national borders, and abortion. How do we deal with these issues and everything else that is going on in our daily lives? How did Jesus do what He did? He prayed with an open, trusting, humble, and loving heart. His ultimate prayer was in the garden just before He was arrested and crucified: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.” (Mark 14:36). We echo those words every time we pray the Our Father: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We see hell on earth in Ukraine, in the empty pleasure of pornography so rampant on the internet, in drugs, in defending the evil of abortion and those seeking to restructure our government to enshrine this evil as a permanent right and option. How foolish we are to make moral issues into political issues. There are many things we can disagree and vote on. But sacrificing the lives of others for our own comfort or irresponsible actions keeps us in the time to hate. It might sound naive to say but now is the time to love. Love is seen so clearly in Jesus, love that humbly forgives, feeds, listens, and lives the truth of who we are not only in God’s eyes but in His very image. The first sin of Adam and Eve has been multiplied in numbers beyond measure. This is the account of the Original Sin (Genesis 3:1-5):
Now the snake was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He asked the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You shall not eat from any of the trees in the garden’?” The woman answered the snake: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch it, or else you will die.’” But the snake said to the woman: “You certainly will not die! God knows well that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, who know good and evil.
The world will always be off track when human beings decide they are God and determine what is good and what is not good. History has shown us that those who exercise power for their own comfort and self-centered visions cause suffering, pain, death, and division. Satan rejoices when we hate, mock, and condemn each other. The hardest thing to do is to love our enemies. Jesus calls us to do that in the Sermon on the Mount where He spells out how we are to love as He loves us:
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same?” (Matthew 5:43-47).
We will only find peace in our lives and in our world when we take Jesus and His words and presence in our daily lives seriously. I have said this countless times in my writings - only He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). No one else can or will lead us to where we all innately hope to go and show us innately how to live with and love one another.
Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.BACK TO LIST