YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree—Be uprooted and planted in the sea—and it would obey you.’” (Luke 17:5-6)
BY: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC
HOMILY: Luke 17:5-10
The bumper sticker on the car stopped just ahead so caught my attention that, while waiting for the light to change, I quickly jotted down the words ascribed to Astronomer Carl Sagan: “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
For sure, it’s what gets me out of bed every morning—the soul-deep belief that some manifestation of God’s enduring love awaits discovery in the new day. I believe the new day holds a bit of heaven. I pray for enough patience and openness to allow it in.
The greater discovery, though, would be the clear recognition of God who plays hide-and-seek within human flesh. Indeed, the Bible teaches us that God has promised to make a home in us. Which means that the human heart—every human heart—is a tabernacle, the most sacred dwelling place of that “kernel of the kingdom” common to all humanity. I believe that to give myself to this truth each morning is exactly what that bumper sticker meant—“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.”
In the gospel passage we hear today, “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ The Lord replied, ‘If you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree—Be uprooted and planted in the sea—and it would obey you.’” (Luke 17:5-6) While I have no knowledge of, or experience with, mustard seeds and mulberry trees, the Seed of Divinity planted in every human heart—those “kernels of the kingdom”—are what each morning I pray able to recognize.
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” The astronomer’s vision might well describe the spirituality with which Dan engages his vocational calling. This long-ago student of mine recently shared his own struggle to remain hopeful in a world fraught with treachery and violence. Though he’s never used the very words, I imagine that, like me, he begins each day with the expectation of discovering “kernels of the kingdom” in his clients. Unlike me, though, Dan works in a professional arena where only raw deeds count; divine potency is not admissible. Dan shared these words with his friends:
“As a criminal defense attorney, I always try to see the best in people and help them where I can. In large part, I’d like to think I make an occasional difference in someone’s life. Today was the bad part of the job. I learned that a client I first represented years ago was recently released from jail and then, within days, shot two police officers. Both survived, but one is critical. My former client was shot dead. This is the fourth time over the years that a client I had earlier represented shot and killed someone or left someone critically injured. On days like this, I wish I did something else. God bless the two detectives who were shot. My thoughts and prayers are with them and their families.”
In response to Dan’s posting, many friends offered prayers and support. In words uniquely their own, all bolstered Dan’s spiritual vision, insisting that the “kernel of the kingdom” implanted in every human heart is not illusion. But tragically in this case the kernel remained just a hard-shelled seed, never blossoming into something more.
“Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.” Seed-like small yet possessing a powerful magnificence—“kernels of the kingdom” everywhere awaiting discovery.