Friday, December 6, 2019

Homily – 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4
2nd Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14
Luke 17:5-10

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should

One life  
With each other
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other


            Perhaps you recognize these as song lyrics.  They were written by a person some have called a modern day prophet; others call him a flashy, loud Irishman. 
But the rock star in question does profess to be a disciple of Christ, has become a committed servant leader on important global issues, and most of his song lyrics endeavour to raise our collective consciousness to the needs of the world.
In Habakkuk, we hear the prophet cry out for a “just one” of faith.
How different is that from today's world? 
I think the lyrics from the song help us to see that we Christians are all One and we have to "carry each other."
Each of us has a Mustard Seed planted in our hearts by God. That Mustard Seed of faith needs nourishment. That Mustard Seed helps guide us to lookout for the interests of those on the margins of our world.  In fact, Jesus’ point is “nothing is impossible to the person who has faith.”
The person who wrote the One song lyrics is Paul Hewson.  Most people know him simply as Bono of the rock group U2. 
In 1985, Bono took a trip to Africa with his wife Ali to work for a month in an orphanage in Ethiopia.   
The people of Ethiopia were being devastated by one of the worst famines in human history.  It impacted eight million Africans and killed over a million people -- mostly children.  
Bono and his wife were horrified by what they witnessed in Africa.  Some called it "a biblical famine in the 20thcentury" and "the closest thing to hell on Earth."
At the end of their journey Bono had an experience that would change him forever.  As they were about to leave the orphanage, a man ran up to with a young child and tried to hand the boy to Bono.  The African man said, "Sir, will you take my son home with you?"
Both men knew if the boy stayed in Ethiopia he would likely die from hunger, but if he left Ethiopia he would live.
What to do?
 With tears welling up in his eyes, Bono's said he could not take the boy with him. 
The conversation shook his soul to the core and changed the path of his life forever.
In that moment, God planted a Mustard Seed in his heart for the people of Africa.
It also inspired one of U2's most powerful and beautiful songs:  Where The Streets Have No Names.  That song is a metaphor for his African experience.  And a metaphor for heaven.
Since then, Bono founded the One Campaign – A Campaign To Make Poverty History in Africa.
The rock celebrity quietly goes around the globe arm-twisting world leaders to commit more of their country's resources to poverty and disease control in Africa -- fighting such things as AIDS/HIV, malaria, and national debt that is preventing many African nations from getting on their own feet economically.    
Bono is still talking about Africa today -- over 30 years after that moving experience.
Pope John Paul the Second was a big supporter of Bono's efforts in Africa and even wore the rock star's signature sunglasses for an infamous photograph that I'm sure created quite a stir around the Vatican.
Bono was one of the key activists who helped The Pope with his Jubilee 2000 effort by inspiring a "Drop The Debt" campaign designed have rich nations forgive the debt of poorer, developing world nations.  This is reminiscent of the biblical jubilee of the Old Testament.
 As Bono put it at the 2006 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, "This is not about charity.  It's about justice."
He added, ''Where you live in the world shouldn't determine whether you live...  God is watching how we respond to Africa."
God wants to work through each of us to make sure ALL in this world have their basic needs met.  So people don't starve and have access to drugs for treatable diseases.
"You see, all faiths agree: God is with the vulnerable and the poor.  God is in the slums...  God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives.  God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war.  God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives.  And God is with us, if we are with them."  Bono spoke these eloquent words at the National Prayer Breakfast as an invitee of President George Bush. He and the former President remain close after securing US funding for live saving HIV drugs for Africa.
Catholic Social Teaching has been leading the way on these issues for well over a century in our world, but Catholic Social Teaching isn't just something someone else does.  Catholic Social Teaching calls each of us to action. This is our Mustard Seed moment.
The events of our lives are God calling us to pay attention to these needs.
Christ sends people like Bono into our world to remind us we are all in this together.   We all have to look out for each other. We have to carry each other. 
It's amazing the difference one person can make in this world.  If only we see ourselves as one People of God.
What is God calling you to do? 

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