“For it is full and lasting happiness to serve with constancy the author of all that is good” (Collect for the Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time)
The opening prayer of this Sunday’s Eucharistic liturgy set the tone for the homily delivered at Saint Mary’s College Chapel by Fr. Hai Ho, O.F.M. Cap., chaplain and member of the Mission and Ministry Team. Fr Hai invited the congregation to bring their response and feelings following the election to their faith life, regardless of which side of the electoral divide they fell, and to move forward together in the face of discord, with the strength of the virtue of hope. It was a brave, effective, and healing sermon. It is printed here in full.
Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Mal 3:19-20a / Ps 98 / 2 Thes 3:7-12 / Lk 21:5-19)
November 13, 2016
Fr. Hai Ho, O.F.M. Cap., Chaplain
Pretty soon, we begin Advent and renew our hope in the second coming of Christ. Therefore, the Scripture readings tonight speak of the End Times because next week is the last week of the liturgical year. It’ll also be the end of the Year of Mercy.
Some have shared that because of the outcome of the elections, it seems to them that it almost is the end of the world! But whether or not you were supportive of one candidate over the other, it is not the end. There is hope and grace in the midst of all this.
I’m not trying to ignore the fact that many do feel scared and confused. Some of you have shared that you’re afraid for your parents and relatives who are undocumented. Some are uncertain whether they can wear a hijab on campus. There are women who are utterly outraged and insulted that this could ever happen. That fear, disappointment, and uncertainty are real.
At the same time, this is not a judgment on those who feel glad and victorious about the outcome. You voted for someone whom you felt could lead our country. And in the face of so much criticism, you stuck with it. And that’s all part of the great freedom of our American democracy.
What I’m saying is, as a Church and as a people of God, we don’t care about your political party. But what we do care about is that you live your faith. I care about how you live with the hope that comes from Jesus Christ. I care about how you find God’s grace in the midst of what you’re feeling right now.
I know how difficult it was to vote for a candidate based on our Catholic values and faith in the Gospels. So many conflicting issues were involved that made me feel divided politically, emotionally, professionally, and spiritually. Immigration, abortion, gender issues, the economy, foreign policy, freedom of religion…
But in the midst of all this, I have to ask myself, how can I continue to live with hope? How do I hold firm to the grace and love of God that will be revealed? I’m not entirely certain that I have the answers either. But my hope is that there is hope worth finding. Because it is not the end of the world.
So, for those of you who are celebrating and cheering, perhaps it’s time to calm down. Instead, seek understanding and compassion. For those of you who think that this is doom and gloom, do not be afraid. Instead, seek clarity and strength in the midst of your uncertainty.
For as Jesus says in the Gospel tonight, “do not be deceived…do not be terrified…it will not immediately be the end” (Lk 21:8-9). Even the disciples felt uncertain and were afraid. And yet, they were told, “do not be deceived…do not be terrified…” Jesus also reassures: “I myself will give you a wisdom in speaking…You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed” (Lk 21:15, 17-18).
If you truly believe that not a hair on your head will be destroyed, that is the hope that is found in God. Especially, because there are no clear answers for either party right now, ask for the grace to find the presence of God. With all that is uncertain on both sides of the political spectrum, seek clarity and understanding. Do not be deceived and allow your uncertainty to be driven by fear.
If you’re afraid and in despair, seek hope. If you’re angry, seek peace. If you’re defiant, seek understanding. Most especially, because we are a divided nation, and perhaps even a divided college campus, know that even as “nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom”, and even as they “seize and persecute you,” remain faithful and hopeful as sons and daughters of God (cf. Lk 21:10, 12). Seek the grace and hope that comes from the Lord, because “by your perseverance you will secure your lives” (cf. Lk 21:19).
Let me conclude with a passage from Paul’s letter to the Galatians. Part of this was quoted by one of the candidates. Hopefully it can continue to inspire all of us, on both sides of the political battle: “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up. So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all…” (Gal 6:9-10). Brothers and sisters, let’s not give up on seeking the hope and grace from God.
Photo Credit: The Archivists @ pflegerarchives.org