13th Sunday of Ordinary Time
June 27, 2021
Homily by Fr. John De Celles
St. Raymond of Peñafort Catholic Church
Do you every ask yourself: why do bad things happen to good people:
why or how does a loving and just God allow his people to suffer and die?
Theologically we would ask: why is there evil?
Today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom tells us:
“God did not make death,
nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.
…the creatures of the world are wholesome.”
This echoes the fundamental teaching the Jewish and Christian tradition found in
Genesis Chapter 1, which tells us:
“God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
It’s not God who made death,
it was the devil who brought it by corrupting good.
As the book of Wisdom tells us today:
“by the envy of the devil, death entered the world.”
The devil envies God: he wants to be like God,
independent of him and as powerful as him.
And the devil envies man:
He envies God’s love for man,
and in particular that out of that love God created in his image.
And most especially that love that is so amazing,
that when man rejected that love through sin,
God’s love caused Him to become a man, in the incarnation, Jesus Christ.
So Genesis goes on to say that the devil came to tempt Adam and Eve,
seeking the destruction of man.
Genesis 3 tells us he told Eve, “You will be like God”
if you eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil:
Starting with the truth, the good that comes from God,
he twists the truth and the good,
He knows that up until that point they had only known good,
but he also knows when they disobey God, when they sin,
they will come to know evil by its contrast to the good.
And so evil enters the world of man:
by the work of the devil,
and then by the moral and physical choices and acts of man, Adam and Eve,
the good world God created becomes corrupted by evil
And so God tells Adam and Eve as He says:
“cursed is the ground because of you;
in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; …
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken;
you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Some say all this is superstitious, medieval, unscientific thinking.
Yet, science tells us for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction
Consider what meteorology calls the butterfly effect
—a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil,
which starts a process triggering a tornado in Texas.
The same is true with human nature.
So evil enters the world and continues through Original Sin
and continues and spreads through that and our personal sins.
God didn’t create the world this way,
but the world is out of whack, unbalanced, because of the devil and man’s sin.
How do we stop this evil?
Genesis also promises a redeemer,
a man who will come and crush the head of the serpent:
and that he will put enmity between that Man and the children of the Devil.
And that man is Jesus:
and He crushes the serpent and restores all things in Himself
by His cross and resurrection:
Not grasping at being independent of His Father,
but rather obeying Him even unto death on a Cross.
He conquers the devil and sin, and suffering and death.
But then, why are sin and suffering still with us?
Why is there still moral and physical evil?
The problem is faith.
Faith is the key.
Jesus told us, “He who believes in me will never die.”
The world does not believe in Him,
–we believe, but do not believe as we ought
If we did, we wouldn’t live like we do: we would never sin, we would never doubt.
We would always love Him, we would always obey Him.
But even so, for believers great things are possible
we can live in this world in union with Jesus,
with His grace, His love, and His Spirit
And we can experience the fruits of all that: including inner peace and joy,
and we can be open to His healing grace.
Not only moral healing and but also even physical healing, if that is in His plan.
And quite often it is His will: all of us have seen miracles.
But sometimes it’s not His will: there is still suffering in this world.
But for believers, even in our suffering Jesus answers our prayers:
–He gives us the grace to deal with suffering,
and by facing it and dealing with it in peace and strength, conquering it.
And for believers, there is more: the world to come: heaven.
Christ’s victory is not finished:
He won the war on the Cross, but the battles against evil go on still on earth.
But in heaven He reigns uncontested:
in heaven there is no pain, no suffering—no evil.
And we believe one day that will come to earth:
when He comes again at the end of time
to bring a new heaven and a new earth.
As the book of revelation tells us, then,
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more,
for the former things have passed away.”
And He who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”
Faith is the key, my friends.
But the key to faith is humility
–not like the devil and even Adam and Eve
who sought independence from God: to be like God.
Faith requires the humility to recognize we need God
–we need to say I am not all-powerful or all-good,
–and to recognize mankind is not all-powerful or all-good.
Sometimes our best efforts only make things worse.
We see this all the time in modern society.
Something meant to ease suffering only winds up making things worse.
We see it in today’s Gospel as it tells us
that the woman with the hemorrhage:
“had suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors
and had spent all that she had.”
God alone is all and perfectly good.
Only God is all-powerful,
And only God can truly fix the problem of evil.
We must be humble before Him.
Humble like Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage:
–humility that allows them to admit their own powerlessness and failure
–humility that leads to faith
that allows them to fall down before Jesus
and appeal to His goodness and power.
And to do so not with a gambler’s attitude, “maybe this will work,”
but with confidence.
Like Jairus, who says, “come and lay your hands on her that she might live”
Or like the woman who says, “if only I can touch his clothes I shall be cured”
This humility and faith begin with individuals,
but the end of evil comes only when the whole world humbly believes in Christ.
The final victory comes only in the end times: with a new heaven and a new earth,
when His kingdom comes, and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven.
But we pick up the fight today:
we leave here today to take our faith and humbly share it with others.
And with faith in Christ and with the power of His grace,
one by one we begin to banish evil from the lives of men,
opening them to the life of faith and grace,
and working with Christ toward the new heaven and new earth
that He alone can and will establish at the end of time.
The evils of the world can be overwhelming: whether it’s sin, or sickness and death.
But God did not make death, we did.
And in spite of the sin of Adam and Eve and our sins today
Christ has conquered sin.
So there is no need to feel despair.
There is only the need to be humble and to believe.
To do as Jesus instructs us today:
“Do not be afraid; just have faith.”