A Mothering God
Father Hanly’s homily for 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C, is entitled “A Mothering God.”
Readings for Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
- First Reading: Isaiah 66:10-14
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
- Second Reading: Galatians 6:14-18
- Gospel: Luke 10:1-12, 17-20 or 10:1-9
The First Reading of today’s Mass is from the final chapter of the Book of Isaiah.
Isaiah’s vision of the future is a description of a mother nursing, carrying her child on her hip, sitting him on her knee, dandling the little boy.
This is Isaiah’s image of God our Father, and he describes His relationship with us: sweet, delicate, tender with mutual trust and love that is never intrusive but always there at the ready to open the door of the future to fulfill our hopes and our dreams.
Love intensifies experience. I remember as a child my own father lifting me up as I rushed into his arms, then dandling me on his knee, smiling and singing the old nursery jingle:
“Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.”
Moments of joyful security, playfulness and trust, father and son both with the needing of, the giving and taking of love …
My father laughing then, and with a final toss he tossed me high in the air, only to catch me in his arms, hugged me to his breast, and I, as snug as poor Lazarus in the bosom of Father Abraham, safe from all harm.
“Behold your God!” says Isaiah the prophet.
The prophecy that ends the Book of Isaiah is a vision of the future: “God speaks: Rejoice and be glad, take comfort and be consoled.”
This is an image of God’s peace that conveys the presence of a Father who cares.
“And the Lord’s power shall be seen and made manifest to all who serve him.”
The vision of Isaiah is fulfilled in the birth of the Child Jesus, the Father’s only begotten Son, the first born of many children who rightly shall be called the “Children of God.” For so indeed we are!
Jesus, the infant, grows up, but Jesus remains always a child at heart. He who is his Father’s only begotten Son, now invites us all to become his brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of his loving Father.
You must remain, however, always a child. Jesus tells us: “Unless you become as little children, you cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
And not only are we to remain as children, but Jesus adds: “I send you out into the world as lambs, lambs among wolves.”
We well might ask, “What are we to bring?”
“Nothing!” is the reply. No things, but only bring yourself, who you are and what you have become:
You are Christ bearers, bearers of God’s message and love, witnesses of his holy Word.
Let it, then, be shouted from the rooftops: “The Kingdom of God has come!” It is near, it is among us, above, below and all around us, you only have to reach out and grasp it, and take it to yourself and make it your very own.
And what, then, is this kingdom made of?
The kingdom of God is not a place but a presence: the presence of the Lord God, who comes himself with his forgiveness, his healing, and his love; in short, “the kingdom of God is here and now!
We, following in the footsteps of Jesus, are sent to be witnesses of this message of universal peace, a message meant for the whole world.
And thus will the ancient prophesy finally be fulfilled: “The lion shall lay down with the lamb … and a little child shall lead them.”
These are great mysteries: hidden in God. To understand them you must become a child, to accept them you must reach out both hands with a grateful heart and receive them as little children do, and say thank you – as little children do.
And how does the child respond to the Father?
Ah, then, your heart must learn to leap with love, like a little child filled with faith who runs into the arms of God, your welcoming Father, who will toss you in the air, catch you in his embrace, and dandle you on his knee for now and for all eternity.
Jesus has said: “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; my yoke is sweet and my burden, indeed, is light.”