Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
July 31, 2016 – Year C
Readings: Ecc 1:2, 2:21-23 / Ps 90 / Col 3:1-5, 9-11 / Lk 12:13-21
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
A few hours ago Pope Francis gave his final blessing to approximately two million people during the last Mass of World Youth Day in Poland. I surfed the internet to read more articles about World Youth Day and was directed to WorldYouthDay.com which has the Bible verse “Be not afraid” at the top of its web page.
Unfortunately, under this verse was the line “We couldn’t find the page you wanted, but have no fear; check your link and try again or use one of the links below.” Below was a long list of other web pages. For someone like me, who is unfamiliar with surfing the web, these words were encouraging.
St. Pope John Paul II started World Youth Day thirty-one years ago, and it has been celebrated every three years since then in various parts of the world. Pope Francis, in his address to those attending this year’s celebration, said “Challenge yourselves and with a pure heart do not be afraid of what God is asking of you. And never forget that God’s will is our happiness.”
We may ask, can we experience true happiness in the midst of all the troubles and confusion present in the world today? Our answer as members of the Mystical Body of Christ is “yes.” Many Christians in our Church’s history have proven that this is possible. The lives of saints show us that we can be at peace and experience joy even if common sense tells us that we should be miserable.
Five days ago, the whole world was shocked by the martyr’s death of Father Jacques Hamel. Fr. Hamel, who had been a priest for almost sixty years, had the privilege to die for his faith while celebrating Mass. He was surely at peace until he gave his last breath. Fr. Hamel, who had been working closely with a local Muslim iman on an interfaith committee, would say that this kind of atrocity can only be conquered by love. This is our identity as Christians. We rise above the level of our humanity because we are not ordinary mortals. We are children of God and temples of the Holy Spirit.
Yesterday as I was preparing for Mass at our sister parish at Smith Mountain Lake, I offered prayers for the sixteen people in Texas who lost their lives in a hot air balloon crash. Today’s first reading from Ecclesiastes reminds us that everything in this material world is pretty much like a hot air balloon. It may not crash or explode but it has limited life span. According to Qoheleth it is vanity. For us to attain joy not only in this world but for all eternity we should follow St. Paul’s advice as he gave it in today’s second reading: “Seek what is above and not what is on earth, for your life is hidden with Christ in God.”