A friend of mine began his homily for this Sunday ( a number of years ago) with these words: “For me, personally, Jesus never spoke more tender, affirming, and consoling words than the one’s we hear in today’s gospel when he addresses his disciples before his execution. Those words are now addressed to us, his disciples here and now: “I will not leave you orphans.” He went on to point out “Parents are those who give us roots of security.” He experienced this reality while working in Haiti at the clinic-hospice that he helped to establish for orphaned and abandoned children. This was before the recent earthquake death and devastation.
“I will not leave you orphans…” My friend continues: Jesus so understood the potential dynamic of being present to his disciples, his “little children”, as he called them, with the immanence of his pending execution. It’s a dynamic none of us should ever forget in our life as Christ-followers, students of the Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth. There isn’t any one of us here that deserves to be abandoned at any time in our journey through life. It’s the primary reason for the church, for us to be in relationship to one another, and not just Eucharistically. The Eucharist should remind us of our responsibility to one another and our need for each other while it pronounces the sacred text over and over in our hearts and heads, “I will not leave you orphaned…” It also provides us with the dictum to see to it that justice is accomplished in our world for the sake of those who are bereft of work, or health, or medication, or home, or food, or family, or friends….Revenge is the ugly American sin and our culture is steeped in violence. Note the movies and play station antics and cartoon magazines our young people are subject to.
To me it was a sign of hope that over 70 theology teachers sent a letter to John Boehner, speaker of the house of Representatives decrying his budget cut proposals as “Anti Life.” How disappointing was it to me and so many others when Cardinal Dolan spoke in glowing terms to and about Donald Trump. “You cannot serve God and money.” Dolan’s issues (and it seems also those of the silent bishops on the call) are Catholic school funding and abortion. So many of the president’s policies are anti life, separation of children from the parents, children in cages, demonization of Moslems, refugees, reporters, ……and the list goes on. He is more concerned about the economy and his hopes for re-election than the life of many Americans. PRO LIFE??????
Each of us may be called this day to decide what we can do to make sure that the many orphans in our world are not left without supportive Christians who live out the commission we have received from Jesus. Orphans describes many types of people today. The letter of James 1:27 “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstainedby the world.” In this time of the covid 19 it is the elderly, poor, blacks and browns that are suffering the most.
Jesus tells his apostles and us: “Whoever has my commandments and observes them, is the one who loves me; and whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
Do you want Jesus to be revealed to you? He tells us how. “Those that have ears to hear, HEAR!”