Homily based on these scripture readings:
1. Joel 1,13-15; 2,1-2
2. Luke 11,15-16
Focus: Time for Choice; Time for Conversion
These weeks of October are marked by discussions and debates leading to our governmental elections . Uppermost in many of our minds are the humanitarian concerns that affect us personally and as a community. Basic needs such as employment, health care, education and peace are necessary if we are to pursue happiness and find human dignity. These are the goals our nation was founded to provide and they are also the gospel values that Jesus calls us to experience. We hear these concerns raised in campaign speeches of candidates for governmental offices. We know, too, that these have been the same concerns proclaimed by many candidates for leadership over the past decades. These concerns provoke our consciences to search for God’s will as we make decisions for future leadership. We hope that God can save us from devastation and demise and make us a wholesome people and nation.
Today’s reading from the prophet Joel speaks to a society riddled with concerns about the well-being and survival of the human family. In Joel’s time, about the year 400 BCE, many thought that history was coming to an end because the times were so bad and so troubled. For many years the people lived with struggles and devastation in their midst. This moved Joel to call for a national time of mourning and fasting, hoping that this could turn the tide to move positive days. He directs the call for a fast to the priests of the people, the leaders, and urges them to cry out to the Lord for salvation from their terrible plight. Darkness and gloom are spreading over the land. Conversion is necessary to change the course of events. Truly, Joel’s words are prophetic for our time just as they were for his time.
Then, in the Gospel, Jesus casts out a demon and says. “Every kingdom divided against itself will be laid waste”. Jesus casts out demons not because he is associated with demons but because he is Son of God. Empowered by God’s Spirit, and the “finger of God”, Jesus identifies and drives out evil. He does this in the Gospel story and he does this when we call upon him to cast out evils in our lives and in our society in order to bring God’s presence to people, places and things. Jesus drives out paralyzing demons in order to bring God’s life and healing into being. Jesus always offers life and salvation. A time of fast and prayer is sometimes necessary for this kind of change to take place.
Joel called for reform among the leaders. Jesus calls for exorcism of evil in our communities. Both of these prophetic voices anguish over the suffering of the people. Jesus, above all, knows the suffering of today’s people in their struggle for life, liberty and happiness. The campaign speeches of our governmental candidates point out to us the dark side of our nation’s culture because they name our weaknesses and point to our hopes for a better day. We still have time to ask for guidance from the “finger of God” to direct our minds to those actions that will alleviate devastation for people and hold the promise of God’s life in our local and national communities.
Joel and Jesus, prophets of God, acted with the conviction that God’s promises of peace and fullness of life are possible for all people. We are moving toward a days of decision. Let us be sure to bring God’s values to our decisions so that God’s reign may be seen on earth.
--Rosemarie Greco, DW