The Valley Catholic January 16, 2018 - Page 10

10 SPIRITUALITY January 16, 2018 | The Valley Catholic By Father Brendan McGuire Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish, San Jose, and Vicar General for Special Projects, Diocese of San Jose. Email him at bmcguire@dsj.org. Sunday Homilies God’s Love is Boundless 3 rd Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 21, 2018 Open Our Eyes 4 th Sunday in Ordinary Time – January 28, 2018 The Bible is often considered a book but it is better understood as a library of books of different genres assembled into one book. The “Book of Jonah” is an unusual book insofar as it is very short story but it is also satirical. It is intention- ally constructed to do what satire does; to poke fun to reach truth. The purpose of the book of Jonah is to make fun of the Israelites themselves. It was written by one of them to make fun of them. Jonah was told to go and preach repentance and not even one day into it they all turn around and they repent. Jonah is ticked off big time because he preached destruction and instead God relents. “In three days,” he said, “your city will be destroyed.” Now he feels like a fool. Jonah says, “God, what are you doing? You told me that the whole city was going to be destroyed and now you’re changing your mind? You cannot change your mind. You are immovable. You cast people into hell. Isn’t that what you told me? You told me you were going to destroy them?” God, as the book tells us, laughs at Jonah and then starts to poke fun at Jonah. He gives him the shade of a tree and then he removes it. Jonah starts whining again and so on the fun goes. The whole message is that God’s mercy knows no bounds. The Jewish laws cannot contain God’s law of love. The law cannot contain God. God’s mercy and love is above all of it. If God wants to change his mind and turn around and give salvation to all, it is his to do. That is exactly the purpose of that satirical Book of Jonah. We should get that message loud and clear: God’s love knows no bounds and will not be contained by religious laws. In the Gospel Jesus does something similar: Jesus tells the religious leaders, the Pharisees, Sadducees and the Scribes who are complaining about him sit- ting with sinners, God’s love cannot be held inside the laws of man. God’s love is boundless. Our role is to open the doors of the church to everybody, to remind the world that God loves every one of us without condition. Our role is to help them to accept that gift. We do so by being like Jesus and being part of God’s boundless love to others especially those most in need. Today, can we give our love away to someone who is in need without judgment or condition? God’s love knows no bounds. We hear in today’s Gospel how the people are astonished at what they have witnessed in this miracle of casting out demons and in Christ’s teaching. We might wonder why is it that all the people who heard Christ and saw his miracles did not repent and follow Christ. They were first-hand witnesses of him casting out demons and healing the sick. They heard his eloquent words and even in today’s Gospel said they were “astonished and amazed” at what happened. Yet, we know that only a few followed Christ in comparison to the number of people who heard him. Christ came to be one of us and show us the way back to God but God gave us free will and Christ never took that free will away. It was up to them to follow Christ or not. The same is true for us. Our freedom has not been taken away either. We have been telling the story for nearly 2,000 years and every generation, every human being still has the ability to either hear the message, respond and follow or not respond and not follow. There is really not much difference between them and us. We may say, “Well, we don’t actually see Jesus do the miracles. We don’t actually hear his words. If I had been there, I would believe.” Would we? Would we be any better than the many who saw and heard and still did not believe? It seems to me we find just as many excuses to not see God in our world today. I suspect if we lived back then, we might have been just as tempted to reject it even when we saw it with our own eyes. The challenge is whether we really see God at work. It most often requires some work to do so today as well. I believe whole- heartedly God is at work constantly in every aspect of our world, God is already here present within us. And not just within us but actively working within us. He is not a passive presence but an active presence in the center of our beings, in the profundo centro (profound center) as St. John of the Cross calls it. God within us encourages us in the way that he wants us to go. It is in freedom we choose. He giv