The title of my homily for this 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time [A] is, “Hurt.”
H U R T: hurt.
Today’s readings triggered that thought - that theme - hurt.
We go to the doctor and she or he asks us, “Where does it hurt?”
I was at the dentist last Monday and he gave me the needle.
Then he took off his rubber gloves and took off for a while. We know the feelings and the procedures that happen once we’re in a dentist chair.
Then he came back - put on a new pair of rubber gloves - and asked if I was numb.
I said, “Yes” - but when I jumped a tiny bit as he drilled - he said, “I guess you’re not completely numb….”
My mouth now had tubes and cotton in it, so I couldn’t speak or only go, “Gugg - gugg!” I was trying to toughen it out. So I gave a signal with my hand - flat - palms down - signaling “I’m so so - but basically okay”. Keep drilling.
Where does it hurt? When does it hurt?
Life has its hurts. It’s not good to be numb or dumb or anesthetized.
Hurts can help us. Hurts can tell us a lot.
We could ask every human being, “Where does it hurt?”
Is that the background question behind the basic human greeting questions, “How are you?” “How are you doing?” “Everything okay?”
We see little kids. They seem to have three moods, three modes, three states they can be in: smiling, crying, and so so. [HAND GESTURE] How about us?
Remember the psychology of Eric Bern and Thomas Harris of I’m Okay-You’re Okay fame. They simplified life into 3 general states of being for everyone. We’re either in the Parent Mode. That’s the should or should not mode. Or we’re in the Adult Mode. That’s the calm, cool, thinking mode. Or we’re in the Child mode. The child state or mode is where we are emotional, feeling up or down, okay or not okay. The child state is the one that deals with hurt - I’m crying within - I’m screaming within. I’m not okay today. I’ve been hurt today.
Where does it hurt? What happened? How did you get that boo boo?
Using hand gestures:
- the Parent Mode [Finger pointing and finger shaking]
- the Adult Mode [hand indicating calm - okay - waving with palm down]
- the Child Mode [tightened fists - or nail biting - nails scratching blackboard]
TODAY’S FIRST READING
Today’s first reading is from Jeremiah 20: 10-13.
In today’s reading he’s in a hurting mode. People are whispering against him. People are watching - just watching - till he trips or falls - or traps himself.
Like every little kid he screams to his mommy or daddy - GOD - to be there for him - to rescue him.
Whenever we make a mistake or whenever we sense people don’t like what we’re doing - and we see them looking at us - then using their hand as a wall to whisper something to another - we get it - and we don’t like it. To quote Robert Frost in his poem, Mending Wall, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,...” They can make us feel unwanted, like little children sent to the corner or to our bedroom - isolated - hurt.
TODAY’S SECOND READING
In today’s second reading from Romans 5: 12-15. Paul tells us that the hurt of sin - has entered our world because of another. Sin keeps pounding our beach - wave after wave - breaking apart our sand castles - destroying our projects - taking our beach away from us.
We all know we all hurt because of sins - the mistakes - the problems of others. We’re like every little kid who says, “It’s not fair.”
And we hear the adult inside of us say, “Who said life is fair.”
Those long lines at the airport - having to get there earlier - the cost of security - is the fault of others.
Or someone doesn’t get tires changed or tune ups and their car breaks down and we get stuck in long lines in traffic because of their neglect. Or someone was texting while driving and causes an accident….and we’re late for our very important dates and on and on and on.
But that second reading also says: the goodness and graciousness of others causes the opposite to happen. Life has its good moments - but we tend at times to not notice them.
I love the comment by Jacques Maritain, “People bring up the problem of evil all the time - and blame God for all the disasters - storms, earthquakes, etc. etc. etc. that hit our world - but they forget to bring up the Problem of Good. Why is there so many good things happening every day around the world.”
That’s the child in us complaining when we don’t get the candy every time we go by that section of the store - and we don’t notice when out comes a neat apple pie with Breyer’s vanilla ice cream.
A full person sees the good things in life happening - the wonderful moments at the beach seeing ourselves enjoying the neat waves of fun / water roll into our beach.
Everything effects everything. There are consequences.
And today’s gospel gets us thinking about hurts as well.
Did you stop to hear Jesus talk about the birds that he often did?
Did you hear Jesus in today’s section of the gospel - Matthew 10: 26 to 33 - tell us that there is darkness - yes - but there is also light?
Did you hear him tell us, that there is death yes, but there is also life.
Or take birds, they are easier to spot. Jesus in other sections of the gospel of Matthew [6:26 - 8:20 -13: 4 and 13: 32] talks about birds. Take the beauty of birds in flight. We’re driving down the road past a corn field. We’ve seen that at times - a whole flock of birds - doing tricks the Blue Angel planes can’t do. We see hundreds and hundreds of sparrows doing there tricks together. Well, here in today’s gospel we have a sad scene we’ve all see from time to time. We’re walking along and we see a dead sparrow on the ground. Ooooh! That scene hits us and causes us a primordial hurt.
Oooh! Woo. What happened?
I remember driving along in the night - somewhere, sometime. It was on some street in Ohio and I hit a dog and I heard “thump!” and I saw something head off into the bushes. Woo. That hurt. I stopped and parked and went back - but didn’t see or hear anything or anyone where their dog was.
From time to time I thought about that moment.
So today’s three readings trigger for me the theme of hurt.
What do they trigger for you? Hopefully, some of these words and images trigger some things inside the sky of your mind to ponder - otherwise my homily is a flop - a dead bird.
That would hurt.
I wonder how many people I have hurt like I might have hurt that dog or whatever it was in the night.
I wonder how many people I whispered about behind their back and I put graffiti on their reputation.
I wonder how many people were given bad example - by my laziness. I hope my hard work at other times helped people.
I wonder about how many people didn’t get a challenge or a prophesy from God or the prophets because I wimped out. Maybe I only whispered God’s name in a conversation - whereas I could have screamed his name and his love and his mercy from the rooftops or pulpit microphone.
Today’s readings trigger these thoughts.
How about you?
Where do you hurt?
Those of you who are married - when was the last time you had a good together about the state of your union?
What helps? What hurts?
When was the last time you had a great conversation together?
When was the last time you went to Holy Communion to each other?