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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.

32nd Sunday Ordinary Time Year A

“As we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour, Jesus Christ”, a line in the prayer after the Our Father.

Does that really characterize us as Christians? “Waiting in joyful hope for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ”? It is a “funny” thing with that coming of the Lord Jesus. If it is part of our faith consciousness at all, then for many it is something feared more than joyfully looked forward to. We hope it won’t be in our life time. In some circles today it is captured in the notion of “the rapture”. A number of fundamentalist fantasy novels play with that idea: the saints being snatched up to heaven, while the rest of the world (the Left Behind) goes to hell or manages as best it can.

The waiting in joyful hope for the coming of the Lord Jesus is more serious than that. It has to do with God accomplishing the purpose for which he has sent his Son Jesus in the first place. That purpose is not to destroy everything under the sun, but to make our world, all of humanity, new, to establish it in its true dignity and worth.

That is what we may look forward to with joyful hope. In fact, we are urged to passionately long for it. Look at the way it is expressed in the psalm of today: “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.” It is really a yearning for the coming of the Kingdom of God .

Mind you, that is not a passive waiting for something to fall out of the blue sky. We cannot sit idly by. God has more respect for us. We are summoned to actively engage in the coming about of that Kingdom. Today’s first reading and the Gospel reading capture that active engagement in the notion of wisdom. True disciples of Jesus are wise; they have the sort of wisdom that recognizes the Lord in his daily incursions into our lives in the persons of the needy, the hungry, the homeless, the ones that need forgiveness, the ones that need to be given new chances, in the issues of justice, peace, development, human dignity.

If we have cultivated in ourselves the facility and Gospel-wisdom to recognize the Lord Jesus in these persons and issues now, then we will have no difficulty in recognizing him in his coming in glory. And we will be spared in the end the ominous words at the end of today’s Gospel reading “I do not know you.” Instead, we will hear and recognize those beautiful words “Come and enter into the joy of my heavenly Father, for I know you as faithful servants and wise disciples.” These are the sort of words that with joyful hope we long to hear.

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