Soul Food for Hungry Adult Communities: Nov. 17th 2013: 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time:
Gospel of today: Luke 21: 5-11. Find it in your Bible, or missal, or click here for Mass Readings.
See video from BBC News, re homeless sheltering in the Redemptorist Church in Tacloban. Click here.
‘This will be your opportunity to bear witness.’
Do you know that Facebook is banned in Syria? The Government does not want any photos of the killings to be seen by the world. That way, the killing can go on, from both sides. Hide pictures of violence, or of hunger or of catastrophes, and that way people will continue to suffer, while others will not see what’s going on around them.
Let’s face it, we live in a violent world. Maybe our own patch is quiet now, but there is violence and greed and degradation happening in so many places, in so many ways. ‘Nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other’, Jesus warned. And he knew what violence was like- he was born into a violent world with Herod seeking to kill him, so that Joseph took the Mother and the Child into hiding. He lived under the heel of the Romans, in Palestine. He would later die violently at their hands. So, violence there was, and violence there will always be. That’s life! (or is it death?)
And then there’s this: ‘when you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t panic!’ In other words, whatever is going on around you, in the world, in your community, even in your family, don’t give up. “Never give up, never ever give up’ was Churchill’s motto. And it has to be ours, in the face of so much that weighs down upon us, together and individually.
Jesus speaks to people who were caught up with the beautiful architecture and stonework in the recently-restored Temple. As they Oohed and Aahed at what they saw, the Rabbi Jesus told them that it would all be levelled to the ground, and ‘not a stone left upon a stone’. In fact, even as Luke wrote this down, Jerusalem and the Temple had in fact been levelled by the Roman attack in 70AD. Jesus went further: he spoke of wars to come, earthquakes, plagues, famines, fearful sights,- and also ridicule/persecution/death that would come for many followers of his, because they followed him. ‘Do not be frightened’ he says,- to them and to us today. Whatever happens, you will have ‘your opportunity to bear witness’.
‘There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and epidemics in many lands, and there will be terrifying things…’ like Typhoon Haiyan last week in the central Philippines,- the most violent storm on record on this planet to reach land, with winds of well over 300km per hour/ over 200 miles per hour. A ‘State of National Catastrophe’ has been declared, with over four million people affected, and over 600,000 displaced,- with villages and villagers swept away, and unknown thousands dead. (Click here to see RTE News Report from Wednesday Nov. 13th, on the 9pm News.)
For survivors, there is a desperate lack of water to drink or wash, little food, little shelter, and the sheer trauma of the devastation and loss of life. Panic is rising in places. Many more will die from this trauma, while an epidemic of cholera is now a grave danger.
‘This will be your opportunity to bear witness!’ This time, words will not do. Action, solidarity, communion and a ‘real presence’ is called for, from all of us. Telling people who are hungry that God loves them is not the answer. We are called to give of our best.
The story that comes immediately before today’s Gospel is in fact the story of the widow woman who came up to the temple, and while others people with great display put in large amounts into the coffers of the temple, she put in her last few cents, ‘everything she had’. Her story mirrored what was to happen shortly after on Calvary, when Jesus himself put in ‘everything he had’ into his dying for the world.
The Choctaw Nation Indians in the mid-west of America made a collection among themselves and sent it to Ireland during the Famine here. (They regularly send a representative nowadays to take part in the annual Famine Walk near Doolough, in Louisburgh, Co. Mayo.) What can we do for our greatly-suffering, hungry, thirsty brothers and sisters, men, women, and children, in the far islands of the Philippines.
I cannot answer for you. I can only answer for myself.
Together we can.
Fr. Seamus firstname.lastname@example.org