St. Edmund Campion Parish, Maidenhead

29th Sunday, Year B (18 Oct 2015)

Last week, after the masses someone approached me asking why I intend to deny baptism to someone. This is something that I have never done in my whole life and so in some cases my homily may have been either misheard or misunderstood. We are currently working towards getting a better audio system, but for a better pronunciation from the priest, you will have to have a bit of patience!!

In between, I invite you to read the following wording from my homily and to read it carefully to the end. I would be more than happy to discuss this with anyone face to face. See below:

I am going to comment on a prayer at the beginning of the mass called The Collect.

The Collect on Sunday is a prayer that the church repeats every single day of the week at the beginning of the mass. It is a small prayer aiming to give us a leitmotif for the whole week. A small but intense sentence to keep in mind during the week so that we can face everything happening during the week from that point of view.

This week The Collect says, “almighty ever living God grant us that we may always conform our will to yours…” How do we know what is our will and what is the will of God? In the case of our will it is relatively clear: Whatever we want in that moment. But what is the will of God? That may sound more difficult but actually there is a very simple way to understand which one is the will of God: The circumstances. For instance, I want to have a particular job but I receive another one. I was seeking, trying in one direction, but after a while it becomes clear that the will of God is another one because I am offered other jobs.

The big challenge in life is exactly that. Do I accept the will of God? Am I open to conform my will to His will? Do I trust that He knows better what is convenient to me, like a child trusts its mother?

Some of us could object rightly that something objectively bad cannot be the will of God, and this is true. Because evil doesn’t come from God but from our original sin. t cannot be the will of God that someone is sick or a sin. But God can tolerate something bad knowing that this can be useful for us. Many years ago I didn’t pass an exam, God used something bad to help me to understand some things for my whole life.

I have another example:

I saw a mother with a small child, a year and a half, as I was leaving Mass, and she said to me, ‘I’d like to talk to you about Baptism.’ I had never seen her before. A couple of weeks later I went to her home and we began chatting. As often happens in England, the parents were not married. The child had been conceived in vitro (IVF) and I also found out they have another frozen embryo [this is the situation: a child in the freezer!]. I said to myself, ‘with this couple, I certainly can’t make a shopping list of all the things they haven’t done right. Yet this woman evidently sought me out because there was some glimmer of interest.’ So I asked her, ‘Why did you come?’ And she answered, ‘Actually, I was baptized as a child, and lived as a Christian. It was beautiful–school, church–but then I drifted off. And yet, I want this for my children.’ As I was about to leave, I stopped and told her, ‘I understand that your husband was sick, that you have had many problems, but I wanted to tell you one thing: actually, God has never lost sight of you. It’s not that He made a mistake and forgot you, and didn’t look at you, as happens with you and your child. Many times your child doesn’t understand the things you do, the things you allow, but in reality you see a good within him, and it is the same with God, who has always looked at you, has always had you present, and wants to do something great with your life and in the life of your family through the pain and the things that have happened to you.’ That woman started crying. Afterwards she began coming to Mass every Sunday. I understood that I couldn’t simply look at the list of ethical issues she hadn’t respected, because the point was for her to find a possibility for her own life, and this is what happened. The rest, slowly but surely, would be worked out.”

In front of frustrations and difficulties in life, we tend easily to complain. A bit like the character Calimero from the cartoons, who is always saying “it is an injustice! Poor Calimero! Everyone is unjust with Calimero”. But think a moment about the cross, the Father tolerated the torment of the Son for something good to happen: Yours and my salvation. Following Christ we can trust that even bad things can be used for good things. So the main question of our life in front of sufferings and difficulties is, do I want to complain or do I dare to trust?

So my dear parishioners, the very question of life is a question of faith but we tend to think that the problems are mainly problems of ethics. And I am meaning, not only the story, but our way to listen to the story as well.