Bishop Randolph Calvo gave the homily at our Cathedral in Reno Nevada. In the homily, the Bishop referred to both the first reading and the Gospel. The Bishop also referenced the survivors of September 11, who do not talk about vengeance and hate for those flying planes into the Twin Towers.
The Bishop pointed to survivors who watch others in the offices where they work playing the game of office politics. As other office workers become angry one with the other about who did what to whom, these other office workers ask, “Why do you are not becoming angry when so and so does such and such to you?”
There answer is, “Once you walk down ninety-one flights of stairs in a burning building, and see thousands of body parts of your closest friends, everything less is small stuff. Every minute above ground is a joy.”
The Bishop noted when the survivors and relatives of survivors talk about September 11, they remember last phone conversations, and how the victims’ last thoughts were to express love for their spouses, children, and parents.
As the Bishop spoke, the following passage came to mind from I Corinthians 13: Love is patient, and kind…, it does not brood over injury…,but rejoices with the truth.”
The Gospel for today was the wicked servant. The king decided to settle accounts with his clerks. The wicked servant had the humiliation of reporting to the king that he could not pay his debt, watching as the king ordered his family sold to pay his debts, and having to beg for the forgiveness of this debt. The Bishop related, this servant’s first act after leaving was taking his humiliation out on the first of this wicked servants debtors. His fellow servants reported this.
The prologue to the Commandments is, Remember, “I am the Personal Name who Rescued your from oppression, the house of menial labor.” It presupposes remembering our oppression. The part the wicked servant forgot was remembering his rescue. When we remember our oppression and rescue, we get that knot in our gut and wage war, upon oppression itself. We hurt with all who suffer, including our enemies. We strive for this as Israel/those who struggle to understand God, as community. We follow the example of what the fellow servants did. We take action when we see suffering.
Our Blessed Pope wrote and our Bishop quoted:
“I invite the leaders of nations and men of good will to always refuse violence as the solution to problems, to resist the temptation toward hatred and to work in society, inspired by the principles of solidarity, justice, and peace.”
When we remember our rescue from oppression, there is no room for revenge. Our Bishop related, the Arab nations and Israel have been extracting revenge against each other for seventy years, and are no closer to resolution than the day they started.
Somebody has to lead. Somebody has to love. The Hebrew word for Father is Abba. The Hebrew word for the one is to come is “Ha Bah. The Hebrew word for love is A Ha Bah. Our Father calls us to be like him, to love. Remember, he is coming.
If the victims of September 11 and their relatives full of rage, why should we be? What is greater, what they suffered, or what we suffer. We are Catholics, and Christians in Reno Nevada. As Rabbi Hillel said, “If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? If I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?”