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Our Lady of Victory / St. Malachy
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Caution: Putting a Sunday homily on the Website is tricky business. All the viewer has is a written text. A homily, on the other hand, is "an oral event". It may not have been said or heard the way it was written. In addition, a roughly ten-minute homily is part of a roughly one-hour worship event in which God and God's people communicate with each other by means of ritual, symbol, song, proclamation, prayer. Not everything in these homilies is original. As a homilist, I rely on and at times borrow from other homilists and writers who are not properly mentioned in this format. I am often indebted to them.

Father William Marrevee, s.c.j.

31st Sunday Ordinary Time Year A

In light of today’s readings it is not out of place when I ask you to pray for all who minister in the church, myself included. Pray that Jesus will never have to use these rather harsh words about us; that he may keep us faithful to the task to help all we serve find peace in God, find strength and hope from God’s veiled presence among us.

For this morning I would like to reflect for a moment on the psalm of today’s Mass. It is one of the shortest psalms, it is also a beautiful little prayer of trust, of reliance on God. It may take a fair bit of courage to make the attitude expressed in the psalm our own.

Why? The piety embodied in the psalm is directly opposed to what much of modernity, of our culture dictates. Our culture pushes us in the direction of independence, of self-sufficiency and autonomy. Much in our culture makes us believe that real maturity is to be free of every relationship of dependence.

This psalm urges us to adopt an attitude contrary to that: the glad acceptance of reliance and dependence on God. Nothing to do with abdicating our responsibilities, with being resigned to the situation as is. Rather, it is the recognition of how life with God finally is. We are held and sustained by One greater than ourselves, by a God who tenderly cares for us. Trusting in God, surrendering to God’s motherly care for us gives us a sense of serenity and well-being. Look at the beautiful image of a weaned child on its mother’s lap: God the loving, compassionate, comforting mother who embraces her children and thus gives them security.

There is a good chance that such trusting and surrendering to God’s motherly care leaves us free of anxiety and stress. After all, anxiety and stress are often the result of trying to be self-sufficient, of having nothing or no one but ourselves to fall back on. The psalm urges an attitude of laying aside all self-sufficiency so as to be completely open before the God who saves, who gives peace.

That acknowledged dependence on God and that trusting reliance on God make it possible to hope. Yes, self-sufficiency and autonomy exclude hope; they leave no space for God’s gifts. If self-sufficiency and autonomy are supreme, then we are really left to our own devices, we are no longer open and receptive for what God in God’s care for us may grace us with.

The wager of this psalm is that we are better served by utter trust in God’s motherly care for us. A childlike – not a childish – dependence on God will serve us well both for the present and for the future.

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