Curatio Retreat 2020
“Wounded Hearts Love Best”
Father Justin Kizewski
Homily – Friday Evening
First Reading (Eccl 3:1-11):
There is an appointed time for everything,
and a time for everything under the heavens.
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant.
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to tear down, and a time to build.
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones, and a time to gather them;
a time to embrace, and a time to be far from embraces.
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away.
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to be silent, and a time to speak.
A time to love, and a time to hate;
a time of war, and a time of peace.
What advantage has the worker from his toil? I have considered the task that God has appointed for the sons of men to be busied about. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into their hearts, without man’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.
A reading from the Holy Gospel, according to Luke:
Once when Jesus was praying in solitude, and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Christ of God.” He rebuked them and directed them not to tell this to anyone. He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” (Lk 9:18-22)
As I prayed about this homily to begin our retreat together, I thought of playing The Byrds’ song, (For Every Season) “Turn! Turn! Turn!” And then I thought better of it and realized maybe there isn’t an appointed time for everything. It has its appropriate spot, just not here. But I would encourage us, if we have time later this evening, to revisit this first reading and the Gospel. Some of them are easily enough understood. “A time to be born, a time to die” … those are definitive times. We are born; we will – all of us – die. None of us get out of this alive, that’s true, but there are lines here that are perhaps more difficult to interpret. A time to kill? … when would that time be? A time to weep, to mourn – we know those … a time to tear down, to scatter?
Whenever we were presented with a difficult passage, the Fathers of the Church would interpret it spiritually – morally – and spiritualize the meaning. So, it’s appropriate for sure, from time to time, to kill sin; to tear down walls that we have built up; to scatter worry and leave it far from us, because the Lord has invited you all here. “Come away with me for a little while,” He’ll say to His apostles. He says that to you. And have this conviction among yourselves that the Holy Spirit has brought you here to encounter the Lord in His Heart, which will be an overriding theme of the weekend. So it’s fitting that we have a votive Mass today dedicated to His Sacred Heart. I’ll have more to say on it later, so I’m not preaching on it now, but His Heart that yearns for you has invited you here to be with Him, to live for a couple of nights, a couple of days, in a house where He lives, to take you away from what otherwise might cause you anxiety. Those will be there when you get back, but for now, to the best we can, we leave them behind.
I think the key phrase here in this First Reading is this: that He has put the timeless into their hearts, without one’s every discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done. Why is it that God’s work happens so often imperceptibly? It will be this way for this weekend, largely – let’s hope not exclusively – because it would seem to make sense, Lord. Lord, why don’t you give us some sign of Your working? Make Your Presence known, so that … and from time to time, He’ll do that, so that we’re encouraged, so that we’re aware of His Presence, but so often He does something that is uniquely of God. He can make us grow while keeping us small, and that’s impressive, that we could grow in holiness and we could grow in friendship with Him, without hardly knowing it ourselves. In this way, He keeps us small while He helps us grow, and so mirror the one who is the biggest, All Powerful Creator of Heaven and Earth, and also the most humble, the smallest.
Mother Teresa will say the sign of the greatest is that they can make themselves the smallest, and that’s the Kingdom. We have to trust and put it in the context of Providence, and this is why the Lord in the Gospel only talks about His Passion once the apostles have affirmed their faith in His Divinity. “Who do people say that I am?” It’s interesting that they have the same phrases that were in yesterday’s Gospel, but about Herod – the same answers; it’s what people are saying. “Some say John the Baptist; some say Elijah; some say one of the prophets.” “Who do you say that I am?” Well, you’re the Christ; “You’re the Son of the Living God.” Make that your statement of faith.
We all have to answer this for ourselves; who is He for me? Is He Lord, is He God, is He shepherd, is He friend? He is all of those things, but once they affirm His Divinity, they confess His Divinity – Well, You’re God; You’re the Lord – then He says, “Okay, that being established, trust in that, because the next one is hard. I’ll have to go to Jerusalem and suffer at the hands of the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes, and be killed.” In the context of who He is, it can be understood. There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for everything under the heavens. Any difficulty is in the context of His Providence, and we’ll see it as such if we can make that act of faith. You’re God, You’re here, You’re with me … what next?