Ampleforth Abbey

14 December 2017

Homily preached by Fr Kevin Hayden OSB at the Conventual Mass on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, 26th March 2017.

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During one of the races one year in the Special Olympics two boys were clearly leading the field. They were neck and neck, each straining to pull away from the other and be first, the finish line in sight. Then suddenly one boy tripped and fell. The other ran on for a few steps, then, realising there was no longer anyone beside him, he slowed to a stop and looked around. When he saw what had happened without hesitation he turned around walked to his injured comrade and helped him to his feet. He put his arm around him and together they hobbled over the finish line side by side.

A French researcher in a book on the Canadian Indians describes how if you offer a prize to a group of Canadian Indian children to the first person to get the right answer, they will all work out the answer together and shout it out at the same time. They can’t bear to win, leaving the rest as losers. Winning would also separate them from the others – they might win the prize but they would lose something else, something more important – their brothers and sisters.

"What if there is a different way of seeing life? What if a lot of what we take for granted, so much so that we don’t even think of questioning it, isn’t actually very true?"

What if there is a different way of seeing life? What if a lot of what we take for granted, so much so that we don’t even think of questioning it, isn’t actually very true, that a lot of what we strain after isn’t actually very satisfying. What if there is something that those children are seeing that we are not.

Once Jesus was present at a discussion about when the kingdom of God was coming and he said something very interesting. He said: “The kingdom of God is very near to you. In fact, it is already among you. It is already here – you are walking right past it, it is right in front of you, but you can’t see it.”

Like the Pharisees in today’s gospel, they are trapped in their way of seeing the world. Someone has healed a blind man, amazing – good news! But they can’t see it. All they can see is someone who is a threat to them, to their way of seeing the world, someone who breaks the rules that they have built their life on. They are looking in the wrong place for salvation but they don’t want to know. The kingdom of heaven is happening right in front of them and they can’t let themselves see it, or embrace it.

What is it? What is the secret of the kingdom? How do we discover it, see it, step inside it? The answer is amazingly simple – we’ve all heard it before.

We’re given a hint in John’s gospel when one day Jesus’ disciples complain that he must be hungry. His reply is interesting: “I have food that you do not know of.” I am being nourished in a way you don’t understand. Later on, he spells it out: “My food is to do the will of my Father.” This is the source of my peace, my joy, my freedom.

The answer: Give and you will receive a hundredfold, lose your life and you will find it, live the gospel, love your neighbour and you will enter the kingdom of God.

"Look at the people you know who are truly happy – look at the source of their happiness. Look at your own experience – at what really satisfies you."

It’s so simple and yet so hard to really believe. The fact that we’re not convinced can be seen by the way we spend so much time looking elsewhere. But what if it’s true. Look at the people you know who are truly happy – look at the source of their happiness. Look at your own experience – at what really satisfies you.

The blind man is the one who sees clearly in the gospel. For him it is very simple. Jesus asks him: ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ “Lord I believe” he says, and worships Jesus. He sees the truth and gives himself wholeheartedly to it.

Lord give us the same gift of simplicity and vision – open our eyes so that we may believe, so that we may see the truth and live it wholeheartedly.