9th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Boy, is Sunday’s Gospel timely!! Given the events taking place in the Middle East, it’s quite obvious that a lot of ruling families had their houses built on sand. Seems like revolutions are just roiling the world. It’s even happening here in our own country: witness the effect of the Tea Party, the statehouse demonstrations in Wisconsin and Indiana and probably elsewhere, the relationships of ordinary Catholics with their bishops. Basically, there is a tide sweeping the world where ordinary people are saying: “Enough of this father-knows-best leadership! Listen to and act on what we need, not what you think we need.”

Is this good or bad? I’m not quite ready to say yet. It is good because it is always right and just that governments meet the human desire for freedom and autonomy, plus meeting basic human needs met (jobs, housing, food, respect, etc). Any government that does not do this – civil or ecclesial – is built on sand and will sooner or later collapse. It’s inevitable. We’ve seen it happening these last decades, beginning with the collapse of the Berlin Wall in the 80’s.

But after the collapse, what then? That’s where the bad can come in….like Jesus said in another part of the Gospel, ya can drive out one demon, but if you’re not careful, seven more demons – worse than the first – can come and inhabit the house. We’ve seen that happen: Congress or a state house passes a law that is suppose to fix major problems, and everyone cheers or jeers. But because they were not careful or thoughtful, the law of unintended consequences comes into play! One demon gone, but seven new ones to contend with! Look at the health care thing, and now the budget battles.

How can all of this be prevented? What can we use as a guide to make sure change is good and beneficial? The answer is found in the opening lines of Sunday’s Gospel: the only ones who will enter the kingdom are “the ones who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

And what is the will of God?

More and more I am becoming convinced that what God desires is our mutual empowerment of each other. This means a commitment to freedom from all oppressions and a commitment to work for the fullness of life to which all creatures are called. This is exactly what Jesus did on earth, and is exactly what the Spirit is still trying to do. If we do these things for ourselves and others, then our house is built rock-solid. But if all we do is mouth the words, or try to control rather than empower, then we’re lost.

Laugh often, pray faithfully, love deeply!

Herb Yost, CSC

Fr. Herb, C.S.C.

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