Friday, September 23, 2016

"THEY WERE AFRAID TO ASK HIM."


Homily for Sept. 24th, 2016: Luke 9:43-45.

          “They were all amazed at [Jesus’] every deed,” today’s brief gospel reading begins. Immediately before this verse Luke has described Jesus’ healing of an epileptic boy, the only son of his father (9:38). The man has already asked Jesus’ disciples for healing, without success. The youth has an epileptic fit even as he is being brought to Jesus. The Lord heals the boy with a word and gives him back to his father. “And all who saw it marveled at the greatness of God,” Luke tells us (vs. 43a).  The opening words of our gospel today follow immediately: “All were amazed at [Jesus’] every deed.”  

          Jesus breaks into the people’s amazement to tell them something he wants them to remember. “Pay attention to what I am telling you” are the words we heard. What Luke writes literally is: “lay up in your ears these words. The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.” This is so jarring that Jesus’ hearers do not understand it. “They were afraid to ask him about this saying,” Luke tells us.

          To understand this fear we must realize that the miracle of healing which the people have just witnessed, indeed all Jesus’ miracles, kindled in them a desire for something we all want: a success story. Being betrayed into the hands of men certainly didn’t sound like success. No wonder the people were afraid to enquire too deeply about Jesus’ meaning.

          The day would come, however, when people would understand. After Jesus’ death and burial his women disciples, more faithful than the men, visit his tomb as soon as the Sabbath rest is over, intending to do what had been impossible Friday evening, when the Sabbath had already begun: anoint the Lord’s body. The women find not Jesus’ body but “two men in dazzling garments” (clearly angels) who ask them: “Why do you search for the Living One among the dead? He is not here; he has been raised up.” And then, Luke tells us, the angels tell the women: “Remember what he said to you while he was sill in Galilee – that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” “With this reminder,” Luke writes, “[Jesus’] words came back to them” (Lk 24:4-8).

          We pray, then, in this Mass: “Open our ears, Lord Jesus, to listen to your words. And   when we do not understand, give us patience to await the day when we shall understand: when we shall see you face to face. Amen”