Print Version April 20th, 2005
I hate homilies that begin with an apology or a complaint … so I apologise about the following complaint! … Don’t the readings today leave you caught between two worlds? Acts is so prosaic—this happened, that happened: it could be the minutes of a meeting—and John is so … John—mystical, wordy, repetitive, obscure, strangely beautiful…
Now I could set this homily up as one against the other—the plain and worldly vs. the sublime and spiritual—but that would do justice to neither Luke nor John, nor—especially—to our own lives. The story Luke tells in Acts might be dressed up as secular history but it’s a story of faith, faith acted and acting, a story of God at work even in the minutes of a meeting. And John, well John often speaks straight in crooked words but his Jesus, however obscure, however much he seems to hover an inch off the ground, his Jesus is grounded in the earthy details of human life. John it is who so often speaks as though he was there: at 4 o’clock invited to come and see, or naming the women around the cross, or putting real words into the disciples’ mouths.
Both Luke and John are in the business of gospel, good news and the good news is we are not split in two. We don’t have secular lives which take turns with our life of faith; it’s not right vs. left. We have one rich and intricate existence where God is alongside us constantly in our loving and our working, our sleep, our politics, our prayer. The Good News is that God is as much at home in what we, in our audacity, allege is the secular world, as God is often absent in what we piously hope are our sacred rites and institutions.
Anywhere we look we might see God; anywhere we go we might touch God. For even now God is beside us reaching out to touch: is that touch tender, is it strong, is it urging on or holding back? Only you can tell. Even now God is looking upon us—in delight, in hope, in challenge, in joy, in compassion?—and in that look we might know ourselves whole and entire for the first time.