A Glimpse of the Eternal
by Bishop Robert Reed
A homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I can clearly remember a time when the highlight of my summer was a trip to Canobie Lake Park. I only got to go once a year, and I thought about it often, it got me though the last weeks of the school year. In days just before the trip, I could barely think of anything else. And as we rounded the corner and the old wooden roller coaster came into view, I was in Heaven!
It’s true, don't you think? Life is more pleasant, more bearable when you have something to look forward to. It could be a week at the lake, the start of college, the real football season, the holidays...a day at Canobie Lake Park, whatever. We all need some assurance that, at some point, light will fall on the road that stretches out before us.
In our reading from Paul's letter to the Romans, we hear that "the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed in us."
I have long found those words comforting during dark days. Paul compares us, as believers, to a woman who is about to give birth.
Who could be more filled with hope than a woman who knows that new life has come to be within her?
St. Paul goes on to apply this image of birth in a much wider context: "We know that the whole creation is groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies."
The fact is, in God's sight, we are all great works of beauty, still becoming, always full of hope. We are "pregnant" if you will, with new possibilities for the world and for ourselves. Waiting in joyful expectation is a great way to approach life; we want to really live and not merely survive.
Unfortunately, these days, there is so much division, so little regard for life, so many voices that speak of death and despair that we could easily be swallowed by these prophets of doom. The negative energy that comes our way each day needs to be countered by a living hope that we carry deep within ourselves.
What is it that keeps the hope alive in a woman with child? The first few months might be difficult. But then there comes the "quickening," the moment when the woman first feels the baby moving within her.
Often we need to see, to hear, to feel a sign of what we are hoping for. Our hopes can't be entirely just in the future, completely beyond our imagination.
We have a need to sense the presence of eternity in our life here on earth.
Isn't this one of the reasons why experiences of beauty we find in walking the beach (for instance) or music and art, why these experiences are so important? Or why we cherish a moment of peace, forgiveness and the affection a child? Isn't this why community, family and friendship can be so life-giving? These are the quickenings which enable us to move forward in life with a deep hope.
And when we catch a glimpse of the eternal, we hang onto these experiences to help us through the difficult times. God is always calling us further down the path of life, into a life where our hopes will become reality.
And so...every time we come to this Holy Eucharist, we taste here on earth the gifts of the world to come.
Treasure these moments we have in prayer together this morning.
Be that good soil in which the seed of God's eternal plan can germinate and grow.