2017-10-08. Homily. Fr. François Beyrouti. Where are we? and How long until we get there?
Sunday, October 8, 2017. Father François Beyrouti homily.
Where are we? and How long until we get there?
Third Sunday after the Holy Cross – The Widow’s Son
Prokimenon (Tone 1) Ps.32: 22, 1
May Your kindness, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in You.
Stichon: Exult, you just, in the Lord; praise from the upright is fitting.
A Reading from the Second Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 9:6-12).
Brethren, he who sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Let everyone give as much as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or out of compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (Prv.22: 8) And God is able to make all grace abound in you, so that always having ample means, you may abound in every good work, as it is written, He has scattered abroad and has given to the poor: His righteousness remains forever. (Ps. 111: 9) Now, He who provides the sower with seed will both give you bread to eat and multiply your seed, and will increase the growth of the fruits of your justification — that being enriched in all things, you may contribute with simplicity of purpose, and thus through us evoke thanksgiving to God.
Alleluia (Tone 1) Ps.17: 48, 50
O God, You granted me retribution and made peoples subject to me and saved me from my raging enemies.
Stichon: Therefore I will proclaim You, O Lord, among the nations, and I will sing praise to Your name.
Gospel: Luke 7:11-16 (3rd Sunday After the Holy Cross)
AT that time it came to pass that Jesus went to a town called Nain; and his disciples and a large crowd went with him. And as he drew near the gate of the town, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow; and a large gathering from the town was with her. And the Lord, seeing her, had compassion on her, and said to her, “Do not weep.” And he went up and touched the stretcher; and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to thee, arise.” And he who was dead, sat up, and began to speak. And he gave him to his mother. But fear seized upon all, and they began to glorify God, saying, “A great prophet has risen among us.” and “God has visited his people.”
When you’re on a road trip with your family, there are two questions that someone will eventually ask: “Where are we?” and “How long until we get there?”
These are important questions for all of us to ask every day. It is interesting that although a GPS tells you how long it will take you to get to your destination, the first thing that it locates is where you are.
Where we are is so important that it was the first question God asked Adam, after he and Eve turned away from God. We read in Genesis 3:9 “The LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ ” Why did God ask Adam this question? God knew where Adam was, but God wanted to know if Adam knew where Adam was.
The answer that God was looking for from Adam was not: “I’m over here. The third tree to the left.” But rather “Where are you in terms of your relationship with me?” Adam knew this and that is why he replied “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid” (Genesis 3:10). God asks Adam another question to help him realize that he turned away from God, but without the initial question “Where are you?” he would never have realized that he separated himself from God.
We should always ask ourselves “Where are we?” Because if we don’t, we will never make it to the second question “how long will it take us to get there?”
Today’s readings focus on the importance of knowing where we are on the journey of life. In Saint Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he says: “he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
If you have never planted anything you may not be used to this kind of imagery. Those who love to plant know that not everything they plant actually grows. The more you plant the more chance you have of having something to eat because somethings end up not growing, others end up not ripening, and others end up as food for the animals before you can get to them.
Saint Paul reminds us that the spiritual life is very much like this. If we are not planting, we should not expect to see anything grow. If we are not concerned about what we’re doing today, we will never get to where we need to go tomorrow. Therefore, it is not only important to look ahead to the future and ask “When will we get there?” but it is just as important to look at the present and ask “Where are we?”
A verse from the Gospel of Saint Matthew shows how Jesus always kept these two aspects of the journey clear throughout his earthly life. He said “The Son of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus’s destination in life was to die and rise from the dead, but throughout his life he was going to spend every minute of it serving others. Jesus is the savior who saved us, not only in the end by dying on the cross, but also in the process by showing what daily sacrifice means.
This is what Jesus does in today’s Gospel and many other times. Note how Jesus was going to the town of Nain, but He didn’t even make it to the gate of the town. His destination was the town, but He found there was something important for Him to do along the journey as he saw a dead man being carried out of the town.
Saint Luke gives us some important details about this man who was: “the only son of his mother, and she was a widow” (Luke 7:12). Jesus’s destination was the village. However, the destination took second place because there was something important to accomplish along the journey.
What are we missing by only focusing on our destination and not our journey?
Jesus did not just raise the man from the dead and rush to his destination even though his disciples and a large crowd were with him. We might miss just how tense the scene was because there must have been something very important in the city that Jesus had so many people accompanying him. Not only does Jesus stop but everyone else stops with him and they probably got annoyed that he stopped and that their schedule was delayed.
There is another very important element in this story that we can’t overlook. At the time of Jesus, people avoided dead bodies because they were considered unclean in a religious sense and also because they began to immediately decompose and smell. People avoided corpses at all costs and tried to get the dead body out of the city as soon as possible. But Jesus walked to the dead body, noticed the mourning of the mother, had compassion on her, and consoled her by saying “do not weep.” He then went a step further and touched the stretcher and perhaps the dead body itself. This is something no one would have done at the time.
The miracle in this story is not what happened when he went with the large group to Nain, but what happened despite not making it to Nain.
No doubt, someone in the large group with Jesus asked got impatient along the journey and asked: “Where are we?” and “How long until we get there?” By stopping, Jesus showed everyone that if we don’t live the blessings of the journey, then our destination is meaningless.
There is no point trying to be successful in life if we end up hurting others in the process. There’s no point being educated if that education makes us arrogant. And there’s no point in getting somewhere, but lose ourselves in the process.
We sometimes get impatient with life. Young people want to be adults and students want to graduate. The great irony of life is that adults often dream of their younger and healthier days and those who work reminisce of days when they did not have many responsibilities.
Jesus shows us that although the destination is important, the journey also has many blessings.
We might not be able to answer “How long until we get there?” but we definitely need to answer the question “Where are we?” especially “Where are we in relation to the gifts God has given us?” “Where are we in our relationship with our parents and children?” “Where are we in our honesty and integrity.”
If we can’t answer “Where are we?” unfortunately we will certainly not get to where we need to be.
Father François Beyrouti
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537
Office: (714) 985-1710
My cell: (714) 914-1710