Friday, October 15, 2010

On Paper (2010-10-17)

This is my homily for Sunday 17 October 2010, 29th Sunday for the on-campus Sunday Mass (7:30 p.m.) of Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) Teaneck, NJ. Mass is every Sunday during Fall 2010 + Spring 2011 semesters. I am the Catholic campus minister for this campus and for the FDU Newman Catholic Association.

[__01] On August 22nd, the BBC News Service reported that the miners of the San Jose Mine in Chile were fortunate to be in one group and team of 33 underground; they had a lot of resources within the group to help one another.

These gold and copper-miners –rescued this week – had been trapped 700 meters vertically underground, starting 5 August when their main access tunnel collapsed.

On August 22nd, the chief engineer warned that rescue would take at least 120 days
(four months), to bore (or dig) a hole with a shaft 66 cm (26 inches) in diameter.

In fact, these 33 miners were rescued within about 70 days.
They emerged with some health issues but in remarkably good spirits. And, all were alive.

[__02] On paper, these miners – from the beginning – knew that their bosses (their company) would search for them. On paper existed a map of the mine and its shafts and tunnels including the tunnel which had collapsed.

There was a paper trail leading to them. But there was no actual trail yet. They even heard the drills overhead.

It took real strength – emotionally and physically – to let these facts on paper become faith and in their hearts during those 70 days.

When you are lost, we you want to be found. You don’t care that there is a map out there somewhere that – hypothetically – someone could read and, then, use to discover you.

And, the woman of the Gospel parable has a similar concern.

Will she really be found? Saved?

[__03] The woman of the Gospel parable is also buried, perhaps even under legal paperwork. And, she has gone to the judge many times.

And, given that she probably lacks money also, she seems to have a slim chance of success on paper.
And, her chances are worse by the lack of compassion of the judge. He does not want her case; he does not want to care.

[__04] Sometimes, we may feel discouragement or disappointment over our own circumstances, our own chances for rescue.

We may wonder: Does anyone hear me? See me? Understand me? Even if I hear the drills, will anyone really get to me? Do we feel buried underground?

[__05] We may face a situation which is unjust. For example,

• We might see – people zooming ahead of us in the left lane, speeding?

• Do you and I also see other people zooming ahead of us– at work – at school – zooming ahead of me– even cheating me – to take what I feel belongs to me. Do I witness them handing in work they did not do …or perhaps – at work – being rewarded even though they did not do their fair share? We may feel tempted to do the same? After all, if life is not fair, why should I play by the rules? This is similar to the widow in the parable.

• Or, do we see other people who have escaped difficulty and enjoyed material comfort by simply avoiding commitment .. or by avoiding sacrifice …and simply putting themselves first. This is also unjust.

Both are unjust. It is unjust when others get ahead or zoom ahead by (a) dishonesty or … (b) selfishness.

[__06] We come together as a community, a Catholic community, who believes in the value of faith and sacrifice and honesty.

And, we believe, for example, in the words of Paul to the Corinthians (2 Cor 8:9), “[Jesus] though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor so that by his poverty you might become rich.”

We believe that we are made rich and whole by the sacrifice Jesus makes for us. This is also the body of Christ which we receive in Communion. And, we are complete by our relationship to him.

This calls us also to make sacrifices for each other. This calls us to play by the rules.

Playing by the rules is not simply to avoid being caught by the teacher or by the boss.

We choose this because we want to be known who we truly are, not just on paper but in reality.

We also believe there is a reality beyond our paper-profits or paper-accomplishments.

And, we do not earn God’s love by our honesty. However, we are loved even if we fail or fall behind when we are honest and others may not be.
And, we are loved even when we are:
• Buried underground
• Buried in paperwork
• Trying to do our best

And, as Jesus says in the Gospel, we also believe the Lord is a just judge who hears prayers of those who call out to him day and night. (Luke 18:7) [END]

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