Homily for the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time
This past Friday, on the news, I was reminded that this Sunday was Father’s Day. And during this clip I heard that by the time a male reaches the age 34, he will have inherited many of his dad’s habits…
As I thought about this, I thought of my own dad, his habits, and mannerisms. Yes, I have some. And it made me think about my mother, and the many wonderful traits that she had. And it made me grateful – grateful, because of the way my parents raised me and the way they supported me – in whatever I did. They always had my back – if I were to put it in the words of the gospel – they counted the hairs of my head. They knew me – they knew the kind of kid I was – they knew what made me happy and anxious– through and through.
In today’s gospel, we find Jesus trying to make his disciples understand that God had their back. He was sending them out on a mission – to do, what Jesus did. And he was telling them about all the kinds of thing they might encounter along the way. He told them that, some people would reject their message, reject them, and run them off! They might even struggle, suffer, and be persecuted, but God had counted the hairs of their head. God had their back.
It echoes the words from today’s first reading. Jeremiah was beaten down for many years as he proclaimed God’s word. Ignored, ridiculed, laughed at… And yet, he trusted that somehow, God had his back. He continued preaching – he continued the mission God had sent him on because he knew God was worthy of that trust. That got me to thinking… If God had the back of Jeremiah, and the disciples, does God have our back too? Has God counted the hairs on our heads? Does God have our back in the midst of the struggles we might go through, as we proclaim the good news by our words and the faith we live out in our daily lives?
I have to say that, these past few months, my heart has been broken by some things that have gone on in my life, and our world. Of course we haven’t been able to gather together as a community to celebrate Eucharist, and that’s left a deep longing in each of our hearts. I know that many people are struggling with the pain of isolation – longing for human interaction and touch. We all want things to return to normal. Last weekend started off with the funeral of a baby… she lived only a short while after being born. The pain of these people is palpable. I was looking for something to revive my heart – something to give me hope. In my head, I believe that, God is there – that God has our back – that God is constantly with us – but my heart, along with the parents, was hurting too. Was God really there?
And then I realized how lovingly this mother, carried her growing baby. I realized that, the first and last face that baby saw was the face of love in her parents, counting the hairs of her little head. At funeral, I saw how supportive and compassionate the family and funeral directors were. By reflecting on this experience, I was reminded in a very concrete way that God was present. God had their backs. God counted the hairs of their heads. We should always remember, God has our back. God has counted the hairs on the head of every single person.
And if God knows when a sparrow falls to the ground, or takes flight into the sky, surely God knows us, and loves us.. unconditionally. Surely God knows when we’re feeling down, unable to see, or hug a loved one, or hold Him in the form of bread, in the palm of our hands. The thing is, God reaches out to us and holds us up, supports us in our struggles and suffering, and loves us through each other – through the faces of others – family, friends, even strangers. God is there for us, through the people that come into our lives and make a difference. God is there through people who reach out and care. And what’s also true is that, we are those people. We are those people who reach out to others. We are the face of God to one another.
We all know that there are people here and in our community who need us to count the hairs on their heads. There are people here, and in our community to need us to reach out to them in love. There are people who need us to notice them, and know them – because to them, we are the face of God. We, on behalf of God – have their back. We know, each time we gather together to pray, to break open the Scriptures andto receive Eucharist, we experience Jesus. But we also experience Jesus in the people who surround us. And then we become Jesus to all those we meet, who need to see a glimpse of God, and feel God’s presence in their busy, frantic, overwhelming, or fear-filled lives. So we need not be afraid. God has our back. And through us, God has the back of this broken and beautiful world. Amen.