HOMILY WEEK 25 02 – Year II
Like a Stream in God’s Hand
(Prov 21:1-6, 10-13; Ps 119; Lk 8:19-21)
The Grand Canyon is two hundred, seventy-seven miles long, up to eighteen miles wide, and over a mile deep. Water flowing there, over millions of years, has left its mark in layer after layer of rock. How awesome, then, that the writer of Proverbs today likens our hearts to a stream in God’s hands and God turns this stream wherever he wants it to go!
The message for us today is clear: be like a stream in God’s hand, open to be directed by God’s will at the touch of God’s hand, and attentive to the Word of God
Water is such an appropriate image for life in the reign of God. It is humble, always seeking the lower place. It is persistent, wearing down the hardest rocks over time. It is also a symbol of transformation: once it has served its purpose here on earth, it evaporates and rises to the heavens, only to come back again as rain to serve another purpose here on earth.
To become a stream in the hand of God, sensitive to wherever God wants that stream to go, however, is to be an even greater image of life in the reign of God.
The Gospel tells us how to be that stream. We are to hear the Word of God and do it. A student once asked me why Catholics worshipped Mary when Jesus pushed her and his family away, as we hear in today’s Gospel. I replied that was not the case at all. Jesus was using his mother as an example to show that those who listen to his Word and keep it, can be closer to him spiritually than his mother who gave birth to him is close to him physically. He was actually honoring his mother and using her to teach us the importance of hearing his Word and keeping it.
Psalm 119 is unique in the scriptures in that every stanza in that psalm except for one has one or more references to the Word of God in it. Today we hear the words “law,” “precepts,” “ordinances,” and “commandments.” “Law” actually occurs three times. Obviously, it was important to the psalmist that we hear the word of God and keep it.
There are so many ways we can be that stream in the hand of God, sensitive to doing God’s will, and one of the best ways is to, precisely, hear the Word of God and keep it. We can keep it by loving others, forgiving from the heart those who hurt us, accepting our losses without bitterness, serving others, helping the poor, working for justice.
The reading from Proverbs encourages us to perform right deeds and reminds us working for justice is better than ritual and sacrificial worship. We are advised to be diligent and wise, and especially to be open to the cry of the poor. And like water, we are to be humble and avoid false pride that is actually sinful egoism.
The Eucharist is based on the blood and water that flowed from the side of Jesus as he hung upon the Cross. Truly Jesus, above all others, was like a stream of water in the Father’s hand, always seeking only to do the Father’s will.
May we, like Jesus, be a stream in the hands of God flowing within the reign of God, sensitive to the will of the Father, hearing and doing the Word of the Lord.