The Lord Has Chosen Us to Be His Own
February 17, 2017
Homily for 17 February 2017
Br. Jason is studying for the Priesthood and will be ordained as a Deacon this Summer.
Sounds like a great world, doesn't it? Everyone speaking the same language, and working together toward one common goal? And what a noble goal: building a grand city, in order to avoid being scattered all over the Earth? What's wrong with that? Frankly it sounds like a beautiful dream in our divided world today. Why would God want to confound the people and cause divisions among them? Maybe the Old Testament God really is as vengeful as some say He is.
Or maybe, just maybe, God is wiser than we could ever hope to be. Take another look at that first reading. Come, let us make a name for ourselves! They were seeking greatness; they were seeking to exalt themselves. Maybe that's not so bad, really, but where would it have gone from there? When God sees what the people are doing, He rightly asks, if they do this, what is to stop them from doing whatever they please? God realized that if the people were allowed to become so self aggrandizing, so self referential, they might dare to think that they don't need God anymore, or worse, they might have thought themselves God. Now that's a scary thought. God doesn't confound the people to harm them, He confounds the people to save them from themselves.
What are we without God? When we turn in on ourselves, when we look only to our own wisdom, we essentially remove God from the picture. The created can not exist without being in relationship with the creator, and that means realizing that we are not the be all, end all of knowledge and wisdom. And if that message wasn't clear enough in Genesis, then Jesus spells it out even more clearly. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me. If you want to save your life, you first must lose it. Jesus is desperately trying to get people to look beyond themselves, to look toward something greater, to look toward the things of heaven, and less toward the things of Earth. Jesus is calling us all to be in relationship with God, as well as each other. Babel wasn't about unity at all. It was about ignorance. It was about lacking the wisdom to know that there is something greater than ourselves. But maybe the psalm said it more poetically than I ever could hope to:
The LORD brings to nought the plans of nations;
he foils the designs of peoples.
But the plan of the LORD stands forever;
the design of his heart, through all generations.
Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
The Lord has chosen us to be His own, and He reminds us of that every day. In scripture, in bread and wine, in the gift of our vocation and our community, God reminds us that we are a chosen people, and that we are His people. So, instead of building the city of Babel, let's use our talents and our wisdom to build the city of God. Then perhaps we can all be united as one people and speak one language, the language of God, the language of mercy, and of love.