Please read Rev Van Dyke's Homily from our Mass of the Holy Spirit on September 2, 2022. We were back in the Chapel of our Lady of Lourdes and warmly and loudly welcomed our new freshmen.
Mass of the Holy Spirit • 2 September, 2022
They shall not harm or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the LORD, as water covers the sea. – Isaiah 11:9
What a wonderful vision Isaiah has! It's like a dream isn't it? All these incredible things happening: wolves and lambs cuddling together, bears and cows grazing together, babies playing with deadly snakes. An incredible vision – like a dream – but to our minds, impossible. This just doesn't happen – not in our world.
And yet, this is God's promise to us. God doesn't want a world full of catastrophe and danger and fear. God doesn't think that death is a neat idea. God's not real keen on war. No, God's hope – God's great hope for us is peace – real peace. Not just not fighting, not just a moment's respite – no, real peace – the peace that comes from mutual understanding and respect, the peace that comes from compassion and forgiveness, the peace that comes from love and friendship and brotherhood. That's what Isaiah is trying to convey through these incredible images – real peace – peace without fear.
As I've been praying over these readings these past few days, I kept remembering another dream, and another description of that holy mountain, and I'd like to read you the words of a great American. This is what he said:
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all ... are created equal.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, (Blacks) and (whites), Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old ... spiritual: Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, we are free at last.
Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn't matter with me now, because I've been to the mountaintop.
And I don't mind.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!
And so I'm happy, tonight.
I'm not worried about anything.
I'm not fearing any man!
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!
My brothers and sisters, those are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King – his I have a Dream speech, proclaimed not 15 miles from here on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial 59 years ago last month, and his I've been to the Mountaintop speech, delivered on 3 April, 1968, the night before he was murdered.
So the question I have for you – the question I have for all of us – me, you, all of us – is a dream worth fighting for? Are we willing to give all for what we know to be right and true and good and beautiful?
We heard in the Gospel today Jesus' declaration of his dream – God's dream for us: that the poor will hear good news, that captives will have liberty, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be free. And we know that Jesus gave everything for that – that God gave everything for that, even to his own life's blood.
The good news is that that is for us; we are those poor, those captives, those blind people, those oppressed people. As I said on Saturday evening, we don't like to think of ourselves that way, but we are – we have lots of stuff but sometimes we're empty inside, we can be captives of bad habits and ways of thinking, we get caught up in our own perspective and become blind to others, we are oppressed by our sins and our limitations and faults and failings. And God knows that about us, and God doesn't turn up his nose but comes into this world to experience it like we do so that God can never say that he doesn't know what it's like, that he doesn't know how hard it can be. He knows what it's like, and the Gospel tells what we most need to know – that God really does understand. And that should give us great hope.
This year we celebrate and reflect on Hope – our third apostolic preference: accompanying young people in the creation of a hope-filled future. And that sounds great but it's important that we understand what that really means. That hope is not just a vague longing for something, but a willingness to work hard for it, even if it seems like a far off dream. It might even be something we'd be willing to lay down our lives for. And that hope is not just for something nice, like ice cream or lasagna – but for something truly worthwhile, like justice – true justice – and freedom – true freedom – and love – real love. Because those are the things God hopes for us. And those are the things that God empowers us, through the Holy Spirit, to do.
And so in this Year of Hope, I charge us all to think hard and to reflect and to commit ourselves to hope – to being agents of hope is this world that is far too full of despair. To hope in what seems impossible and to commit ourselves to it because it is worth it, because what seems impossible is finally the only thing that is worthwhile.
Because we remember and commit ourselves to God's great hope – his plan for us – that we should be his image and likeness – truly his image and likeness and truly brothers and sisters to Jesus and to one another. To remember that God has a plan for us – a plan born of love – and it is beyond our wildest dreams.