Homily

Take yourself back 2000 years to the event in today's Gospel. The nation of Israel at the time is a man's world legally, socially, politically. Women and children are universally dismissed as irrelevant. Yet this Gospel story features the irrelevant: two women, both of whom are pregnant under unique circumstances. The younger is Mary, a Jewish girl probably in her early to mid-teens; the other is her much older cousin, Elizabeth, supposedly beyond childbearing years. Two mothers visiting each other, two babies in their wombs, the lives of all four deemed worthless by the standards of their time. Who cares about them? Who cares?

God cares! It's because of these two women and their babies that a new spiritual movement is born, a new faith initiated, one that champions peace, justice, love and compassion. How can it be that our fate ends up in the hands of a teenager, an elderly woman and their babies? Human wisdom dictates otherwise. Human wisdom assumes that God picks the strong, the influential, the powerful for so important a task. So much for human wisdom! God decrees otherwise, favoring the poor and the powerless.

What of you and me? How do we fit into this Gospel : we who are often dismissed as irrelevant and powerless? Are we too part of God's grand plan? Of course we are. Through Baptism, we are chosen by God to move this faith forward, to become promoters of peace in a world of violence, ambassadors of love to the self-centered, models of compassion for the suffering and seekers of justice for people whose rights are violated.

Proclaiming Gospel values in our lives is difficult work, demanding a lot of courage and perseverance. We may be tempted to give up, declaring the task to be too difficult, too demanding and impossible to achieve. We forget this call to action comes from God, and that God's call is not a call to be successful, but simply a call to be faithful to the task. We may even suggest that God doesn't realize how hard it is for us to follow the footsteps of Jesus. We may think God's in heaven while we're on earth, so God doesn't really know human emotions and hardship.

Don't sell yourself short and don't sell God short! God does understand human life...intimately! Consider the following poem written by Joseph Veneroso, a Maryknoll priest, entitled God Knows:

"God knows how it feels to work with rough hands on rougher wood, and walk the earth with calloused feet and taste the sweetness of precious food shared one last time with parting friends.

God knows how a broken heart hurts more than whip or cross or nails or crown.

God knows comfort in a mother's arms, longing for a father's love, sadness at a brother's loss, strength of a sister's undying loyalty.

God knows why a heart overflowing with love erupts with anger when people hurt one another.

God knows the joy of life restored when the dead rise and the lost are found.

God knows all this not by being God alone, but because a woman once said 'yes' and God became one of us."

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