I. Homily – 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Moses and the widow
II.The Cubs are on their last leg before the World Series, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are running for President, Syria is being bombed and Terrorists are forming their own country in Iraq.
A. There is plenty going on in the world that I should be talking about, but a homily is not an account of current events…no, it is supposed to be driven by what has been revealed.
B. So…here you go…
III. In the midst of everything happening in the world, what is God teaching us in the scripture passages we heard today…especially, this passage of scripture from the Book of Exodus.
A. We get a battle scene. Amalek attacks Israel forcing Israel to defend herself.
B. Ok. Clearly, Joshua was exercising Israel’s right to self-defense seeing that Amalek had attacked them.
1. But, the passage is really pretty brutal isn’t it?
2. The last line of our passages states: “And Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”
3. Ok. They didn’t just win the battle, they mowed them down.
C. Clearly, God is in on the whole thing, driving the whole thing, because whenever Moses holds his hands up, the battle goes well for Israel. When he puts his hands down, the battle goes well for the Amalkites. Hence, there is definitely some divine influence helping the Israelites to mow down the Amalkites.
D. So, how do we reconcile this with our faith?
1. Jesus tells us that we should forgive seventy times seven times, turn the other cheek, pray for your persecutors and so on and so forth…
2. So, how are we supposed to read this passage of scripture and what is the message?
3. Back in the early days of the Church, there was a heretical group called the Marcionites, led by a man name Marcion. Marcion solved this problem by simply throwing out most of the Old Testament and portions of the New Testament as the work of the false God.
4. The problem is that this is not what we believe as Catholics. We believe that the entire body of the Old Testament is the inspired Word of God.
5. So, what are we to make of it?
E. Fr. Robert Barron points out that the ancient commentator, Origen, gave us this principle by which to interpret the Bible, Old and New Testament. He said: “The entire body of scripture must be interpreted from the standpoint of the last book of the Bible.”
1. The last book of the Bible is the Book of Revelation.
2. Ok. Great! That really helps. That is the book with dragons and apocolyptic riders bringing plagues on the earth…that is really helpful.
3. But, let’s wait a minute…at the very heart of the Book of Revelation is the Lamb of God once slain.
a) There is a famous painting…indeed…one of my absolutely favorite paintings entitled the Adoration of the Lamb…it depicts the Lamb of God standing on the altar with a pierced side and blood flowing out from his side into a chalice.
b) Around him, gathering from the four corners of the globe are the entire communion of saints…everyone…coming to adore the Lamb of God.
c) There is one thing in particular which this lamb could do…this Lamb could open the 7 seals of the scroll in the Book of Revelation.
d) Fr. Barron interprets this scroll as being the inspired word of God and it is the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ who is able to open…properly interpret the scripture of which the Old Testament serves as the beginning.
e) We must, therefore, interpret sacred scripture in the light of Jesus Christ…
f) And indeed, this is what the ancient fathers of the Church did…this is what Jesus Christ himself did on the road to Emmaus…
(1) Remember after Jesus rose from the dead there were two disciples on the road to Emmaus fleeing Jerusalem and he appeared to them and conversed with them.
(2) What does the Gospel of Luke tell us about what Jesus said to them: “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures.“
(3) The scriptures to which they refer are what we call the Old Testament. He may have even spoken to them about this passage from Exodus…who knows.
(4) The bottom line is that the key to understanding any passage from the Old Testament is to interpret it in the light of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
4. Who is Jesus Christ?
a) Jesus Christ is the lamb…the lamb being a gentle humble creature…adn this lamb the one who was slain and who gave his life for us on the cross.
b) Jesus is the one who HELD HIS ARMS UP BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH, but they were not held in place by his allies but by two iron nails so that we might win the battle here on earth.
c) Hence, we must read even this story of the battle of Joshua with Amalek in this light.
d) Fr. Barron further explains: “If we read any passage of scripture as encouraging violence or indicts God of hatred then we have misread it.”
F. What is even more interesting if we read three verses past the passage we are given in our first reading today, Exodus tells us: “Take up the banner of the LORD! The LORD has a war against Amalek through the ages.”
1. If Joshua just “mowed down the Amalkites, then why is the Lord going to war against the Amalkites through the ages?
2. If the battle is done, why isn’t it done?
3. Perhaps the point of this passage of scripture is not to recount the gory details of a battle that happened three thousand years ago but to teach us about a battle that is still going on…
IV. Our Gospel passage tells us about the persistent widow and the unjust judge.
A. Luke tells us that the parable is “about the necessity of the them praying always without becoming weary.”
B. We hear about this unjust judge, but we do not know why he is unjust…we do not get an example of his injustice except that he is…
C. Perhaps the judge is the world in which we live…a world that is broken and world that is fallible…perhaps the judge is our own faulty nature…
D. We also do not find out what exactly it is that the widow wants…
1. We can speculate…maybe it is a property claim or a child that is in prison or some other thing…
2. But we do not know…but she is persistent and so it must be something incredibly important to her.
3. Maybe, the whole point, is that she is just persistent in seeking justice and truth…maybe truth Himself
E. The widow, who has suffered loss in her life, is persistent with regard to justice, truth and trust in God.
1. Through thick or thin, she continues to fight the battle for faith and hope and love…she constantly turns her heart and mind to God and she trusts.
2. She too is holding her hands in the air even though she is weary and in the end…the unjust judge concedes.
V. What then is the lesson to us?
A. Many have wanted me to comment on the election and some even want me to tell them how to vote.
1. I am taking a different tac in that there is a much greater problem facing our nation and our church than the election of the next President of the United States.
2. Joseph de Maistre said, “A nation gets the leader it deserves.”
3. So…the question is not really what is wrong with Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. The question is: What is wrong with us?
4. What I mean by this is not an impersonal question regarding all the people out there, I mean we who stand and sit here.
B. Have we kept our hands up, as Moses and Jesus have? Do we continue to wage the battle against Amalek or have we thrown up our hands? Do we trust God? Have we not only stormed heaven with our prayer but taken the time daily to pray in a way that is not rushed or superficial? Have we spent as much time teaching ourselves the faith as we have entertaining ourselves? Do we prefer Catholicism lite to true faith? Have we supported our Church’s efforts including our parish efforts to rebuild an authentic faith? Do we demand others stand fast, while we sit back? When others attack the Church or her ministers, do we defend her or do we join in? When the Church’s freedom was put in jeopardy, did we lift a finger in support?
C. It is obvious that our hope does not lay in secular humanism or any human being; our hope is in the name of the Lord.
VI. My friends, we all know where the electoral votes in Illinois will go the first week of November, and we will get the leader we deserve. If we want to change the future, then I guess we better change ourselves.