Saint Mary of the Angels homilies and reflections

Homily. Sunday, January 17, 2010. Ken Hughes, SJ

Sunday, January 17, 2010.  Ken Hughes, SM

St. Mary of the Angels



My brothers and sisters,

The Gospel today invites us to celebrate a wedding feast.

The people of Haiti do not even have time for funerals to bury their dead.


The Gospel today speaks of an abundance of water turned into an abundance of delicious wine.

The people of Haiti barely have enough clean water to wet their lips.


The Gospel today tells us that Jesus’ disciples began to believe in Him.

Many in Haiti feel that God is angry and has abandoned them.


And yet, immediately, out of the dust and rubble arose a great power of faith as survivors sang hymns like “O Lord, Keep Me Close to You”   and “Jesus forgive me,”  and at least one preacher stood on a box and told his listeners in the dark, “It seems like the Good Lord is hiding, but He’s here.  He’s always here.”


Weddings are joyful, but we are sad, Lord.


I wish that God would speak to the people of Haiti today the words we heard in the first reading from Isaiah.  O that God would say, “For Haiti’s sake I will not be silent, for Port au Prince’s sake I will not be quiet, until her vindication shines forth like the dawn and her victory like a burning torch. … No more shall people call you ‘Forsaken,” or your land ‘Desolate,’ but you shall be called ‘My Delight,’ and your land ‘Espoused.”  “Espoused” as for a wedding?  A wedding with God?


Almost five years ago, Katrina nakedly exposed the racism and corruption of New Orleans.

This earthquake nakedly exposes the poverty and corruption of Port au Prince and all of Haiti.  For the moment, our hearts will be touched and we will pour forth an abundance in aid in people and goods, and money.  Yesterday, the rector of Boston College High School told me that the students of BC High donated more than $10,000.  How truly wonderful and symbolic of concern and care and sacrifice. 


If the miracle of Cana was changing water into wine, the miracle today is the changing of people’s hearts into compassion and generosity. 


But, in time, we will forget, and life will move on as usual.


Early this coming week, two events will take place, the first, to remind us of the past and the second, to challenge us for the future.


Tomorrow is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  We must never forget the heroic struggle, led by Dr. King, to overcome centuries of prejudice, oppression, injustice.  We must never believe that because Mr. Obama is our president, that the goal has been reached. We must always remember the past, both the shame and the glory.


Tuesday, we will vote for the person who will replace Senator Ted Kennedy and carry forward the social values which he fought for perseveringly.  We know that the outcome will not be about the qualities of the persons but about universal health care.  There is no question that the health care bill is filled with compromises and flaws, but what stands in the balance is health care or lack of health care for the 40 million poorest in America.


When it comes to compassion in crisis we Americans are the most generous of people.  When it comes to policies of justice and equality, we can become self-protective and narrow.  We forget.


We forget that people struggled for the social security we now enjoy.

We forget that people struggled for the Medicare and Medicaid we now enjoy.

We are now engaged in a similar struggle for universal health care.

What will future generations say of us if we fail?

As in the founding or our country, once again, Massachusetts is the battleground.


But let me turn back to the Gospel again. 

The wedding feast at Cana was the first of Jesus’ miracles in John’s Gospel.  And John called it a “sign.”  By “sign,” he meant that it pointed to the Kingdom of God.  Throughout the Old Testament and New the image of the wedding feast was used to picture the abundance of life,  joy, and communion of all God’s people gathered into God at the end of time.  Those who have died this week surely sit at that wedding feast.  That is their consolation, -- and ours.  But the sign of Cana  also pointed to the Kingdom of God now present in this world through Jesus.  We are seeing expressions of this Kingdom in the outpouring of love and compassion towards the people of Haiti.  May we also  make this Kingdom more present by our own choices and actions this week as we contemplate the poorest of our own nation.   


Ken Hughes, SJ    

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