Ascension Church

Homily, Aug. 20, 2017

I. It’s hard being a mom. In an Associated Press article titled, “A Tortured Choice in Famine,” it was reported that, when the 3-year-old son of Faqid Nur Elmi died of hunger and thirst on the road to Kenya from Somalia, his mother could only surround his body with small dried branches to serve as a grave. She couldn’t stop to mourn—there were five other children to think about. “Where will I get the energy to dig up a grave for him?” she asked. “I was just thinking of how I can save the rest of the children.”


II. The mom in today’s gospel story is trying to save her daughter. If she had been seeking help for herself, she might have given up. But there’s nothing that fuels a mother’s audacity more than concern for her child’s well-being. She’s ready to cross whatever boundaries she needs to cross, to do whatever it takes. She tries “noisy and assertive,” then “pleading and compliant,” finally “clever and confrontative.” Her baby is sick, and if this Jesus guy could help, by God, he’s going to.


III. The “great faith” that Jesus attributes to this mother is not only her belief in God, but her single-minded, persistent, unrelenting commitment to making her beloved’s situation better, and finding a way to accomplish it. Among the women of great faith whom I know are the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, who founded Ascension School and served here for decades. On Friday, they issued a statement in response to last week’s violent events in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is valuable for our multi-racial, largely immigrant faith community.


As Sisters of St. Joseph, we are called to build a more unified and peaceful society. We believe mutuality can only happen when we acknowledge and deepen our understanding of our racism. These recent events are symptomatic of rises in hate crimes, violence and deep-seated racial injustice. The acts of violence on minority and racially diverse groups have been misconstrued as individual acts rather than recognizing the more historic and systemic ideology of racial hatred…We are called to “profound love” in action by being unifiers and reconcilers for peace, healing, and anti-racism. We denounce hatred of any kind….We recommit ourselves to nonviolence by our life style, charism, action, prayer and participation with others in challenging dehumanizing and violent actions…


If the evidence of “great faith” is single-minded, persistent, and unrelenting commitment to making the situation better and finding a way to accomplish it, just how great is our faith?
h/t: John Shea