Homily for 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time A 2014 (Letter to the Romans)
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24. August 2014 - Kleiner Michel (St. Ansgar), Hamburg (Philippinische Gemeinde)
The first word of the Letter to the Romans we find in the Bible once and only here. In original Greek it is a simple Omega (Ω). The best way to translate this might be a short: "Wow!"
Paul is deeply moved looking back on the last three chapters of his own Letter to the Romans. He realized how faithful God was, is an will be to his beloved and chosen people Israel.
In order to make this comprehensible for us, I suggest to transfer the "Wow!" from Saint Paul's Letter into today's gospel. Here we find Jesus attesting Peter: "For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father." Peter is the first to confess that God revealed himself in Jesus. God's Holy presence in our world and life, against what we would have expected from plain earthly experience. That is why Jesus says "For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you."
Take this gospel and ask yourself if there might be such a surprisingly holy experience in your life: "For flesh and blood has not revealed this to me, but my heavenly Father." Such an insight is never simply intellectual, but it will always move the whole person. Standing in amazement at the inspiring, thoughts beyond all words, the exciting work of God... All of us can make such an experience in our lives.
"Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!"
I can imagine how Paul - after having written the last few pages of that letter - rereads what he has just understood: What have I written about God's action in the world, speaks about a secret that is breathtaking and beyond human imagination - and yet God just has shown me this and we can learn from God what he reveals to us! Paul is pretty impressed by the wisdom written by himself - and at the same time he is humble, because he realizes that he could never have known this only by himself. Indeed, Paul is amazed and astonished.
Those people, to whom 'real' is only what can be completely explained, have nothing to be amazed about. When 'real' is only what does not resist my very intellectual scalpel, then there is nothing to be amazed in life. But like that one will miss the greater part of the reality.
Some do prefer to react always with cynicism. Cheap talk, no mystery. The cynics can turn everything into the cheap. Then they have nothing to wonder about. It is a fine way to keep God at bay.
But you find although the opposite: People who explain everything to be inscrutable, inaccessible mystery. They deny God's chance to make us humans astonish. Some people think that thinking reasonable about the faith is already disrespectful to God. But like that there will be nothing left but empty phrases about of God. Words have no meaning if you can not reasonable reflect on them. This again is a fine way to keep God at bay.
"For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be glory forever!" With this words Paul concludes the important three chapters in his Epistle to the Romans, where he is reflecting the activity of God in the history of the people Israel. God has given him on these issues. In doing so God has led him to astonishment.
There are other religious teachers who mainly praise themselfs. But Paul knows well enough how much he has sinned against Christ; he will not forget it now. But he although knows that God blessed us richly. This is no cause for pride, but for the humble acknowledgment of the greatness of God.
To such humbleness we will not be laid if we deny all God's gifts, all the knowledge, the wisdom and all the good that is in us, that is done by us and that is given to us by God. To such humbleness we are capable only in amazement: God in his great love reveals to us his holy presence in our world and in the life of every single one of us, so we can speak out in the humble amazement: "Wow!" Amen.