To listen to today’s homily, please select the audio file below:
I’ve been riding the subway in New York City for years and I’ve noticed a lot of changes over time. Of course it’s still not polite to look at people. Eye-contact or striking up a conversation aren’t done on the subway. It’s better to close your eyes during the ride, if you can, but also still remember to hold on tight to any bags you have with you. Until recently people would have a newspaper or a book to read; sometimes you could even see someone saying the rosary or reading a prayerbook.
But that’s all gone now, hardly any newspapers or books. Now a lot of people are checking out their messages or playing games or listening to music on their smart phones. The digital world has taken over. People seem locked into the fast moving electronic worlds of Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. That’s not just in the subway, of course. It’s above ground too. More and more people are locked into the world of electronic bites.
The new media always wants something new, as long as it’s faster than what was before. One of the newest programs out there, I understand, is designed to keep you abreast of the world of the here and now exclusively. It will tell you about the latest murder, what Donald Trump just said, who just died, did the Mets just win, and it all disappears in 24 hours. All gone. The past gets in the way of what’s happening now. Don’t get distracted by the past. Now is what counts. What’s now is the only important thing.
Of course, if you’re just interested in the news now you may miss the Good News. The gospel we just read doesn’t seem to fit in the new media. That’s because it sees the most important thing in life as what’s happening now.
I was talking to a Jewish friend of mine the other day and he’s going to the synagogue these days to lead the prayers because his father died around this time, over 50 years ago. He was only a little boy when his father died, but he has wonderful memories of him and the prayers seem to keep those memories fresh. He told me he wished young people would put their iPads and iPhones down and take in life that’s around them. Pope Francis said the same thing in Rome the other day.
I can understand why people take their electronic devices into the subway. It’s a confined world down there where you sit or stand with a lot of people you may not know. But I wonder if something else could lift us up down there.
Suppose we thought about the words that Jesus says in today’s gospel. “Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” Can you imagine that: God would come and dwell with me? The God who made heaven and earth and everyone one of the people I’m sitting across from. God is here with us all.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” What a wonderful gift that is! The Lord gives us peace. He tells us not to be troubled or afraid. He’s with us, even there in subway. He’s with all of us. We think we’re strangers, but we’re all his children in his hands.
Those are good thoughts to think about anywhere, anytime, aren’t they? They’re Good News. They lift up life as it is, that we’re living now. We need to hear them now.