Rom 8:18-25; Ps 126:1-6; Lk 13:18-21
Our ancestors in the faith were like men dreaming. They were walking around in a daze. So stupefied were they at the marvelous things the LORD had done for them. When the LORD brought them back from captivity in Babylon, their mouths were filled with laughter and their tongues with rejoicing. Even the nations were amazed and proclaimed, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD restored their fortunes for the entire world to see. None could deny the LORD’s saving love revealed in their history as a nation. As refreshing as a torrent in the desert, the torrents of their tears nourish the earth and bring forth the harvest of joy. Indeed, for all of time anyone who goes out weeping and carrying the seed shall return rejoicing, carrying not seed but sheaves. Saint Paul knew the same mystery of suffering as he wrote to the Romans, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.” Like yeast or a mustard seed the Lord Jesus assures us that the Kingdom of God is hiding itself in our world until it matures and bears food so that all people might taste and see that the Lord is good. It is this feast we come here to share, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
All creation is groaning, not in despair but in labor pains. This is how suffering is seen through the eyes of faith. We see the pain and we hear the groaning, but we do not lose hope or give up on God. We join with all creation in waiting with eager expectation for the revelation of the children of God. Indeed, hope gives birth to the eager expectation that everyone would be free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. It is this dream of freedom that filled the hearts of the returning exiles; it is this same dream of freedom that filled the hearts of Saint Paul’s children in the Church of Rome. We, too, share in this dream of freedom. We long for the transforming union; we long to be completely free in the Holy Spirit by becoming one with Christ, Our Lord and God. In the present sufferings, we experience the first fruits of this transformation. However, we still hope for what we have not yet seen—the full transformation. For this we wait with eager expectation, and with full endurance.
The tiny beginnings of the church are indeed comparable to a mustard seed or to yeast. Only twelve men, mostly unrefined and uneducated fishermen went out weeping to sow the seed and came back rejoicing carrying the sheaves. The countless women who themselves supported the apostolic ministry and nourished the early community with daily bread. These we can see in their greatness today. At the outset they did not seem great, and the world-wide call to evangelize seemed only a pipe dream. Our witness and service to those in need both near and far seem to be but a little thing. However, it’s our eager expectation that enables us to faithfully endure until the end. Isn’t this why we gather here at the altar of the Word and the Eucharist to be encouraged in our little efforts to do such a great thing—to change the face of the earth. Without the Holy Spirit moving us into the parables of the Lord Jesus, we could never see beyond our most recent failure or false hope. Indeed some days it’s the torrent of tears alone that give us true hope.