1. Back in May of 1998, my father passed away after a long illness.
a. We had expected it, but that expectation did not prepare my mother, brother and me for all the changes that came after his death.
2. We had only just gotten their house sold, their money invested and my mom settled in a new apartment closer to my brother,
a. When she suddenly died in July of 1999.
b. Life changed again as for over a year my brother and I went through the probation of her will and the division of her assets.
3. IT was in April or May of 2000 when I walked into Citibank
a. And invested my part of the inheritance in an annuity which would form a major part of my retirement
b. My investment guy reassured me.
1. “Fr. Baker, the way the stock market is going, you have no need to worry. Your retirement is assured!”
4. IT was easy to see the reason for my investor’s confidence:
5. For the last half of the 1990's
a. were a time of growth, of relative peace and stability for the world.
1. The market was up, the economy strong,
1. and we were confident that the trend would continue.
2. The Palestinians and Israelis were at Camp David, Northern Ireland was granted home rule, and we were confident the peace would continue.
3. In NYC crime was down, safety up,
1. and even the Pope called the 21st Century an era of peace.
6. Famous. Last. Words.
7. for then the stock market tanked,
8. And then the peace accords failed,
9. And then came September 11th,
10. the war in Afghanistan, and the war in Iraq.
11. In 2008 the great Recession came,
12. And the peace, the prosperity the stability
13. we had placed our confidence in only a few years ago was suddenly swept away.
14. The gains on my little nest egg certainly were.
15. And since then, things have not gotten better
16. Oh, we climbed out of the great recession.
17. And the Stock Market, oblivious to the concerns of the larger world, keeps making money for someone.
18. But we find ourselves in a world which over the past several years has become dangerously unhinged
. and because of this insanity,
a. a pandemic was allowed to wrap itself around the world and kill millions.
b. But while the events of this century,
c. The events of the last four years,
d. Have been shocking – put into perspective, they are not unusual.
a. Economies have always tanked
b. Wars have always broken out
c. Kingdoms have been overthrown
d. Governments - even democratic ones – have been threatened and occasionally have failed.
e. And the security of family and friends has always been shaken by illness - if not always by pandemic -
1. and shattered by death.
19. And yet as soon as our trust in one thing is shattered,
. we seek it again in another,
a. hoping that finally we will find the security we need.
20. The disciples of Jesus did this.
a. In their lives they had experienced many changes; violence, poverty, illness and death.
b. But they knew that the one thing that nothing could change
1. was God’s faithfulness to the people of Israel.
21. Israel’s faithfulness to God, however, was another matter.
22. For throughout its history,
. as soon as Israel placed trust in one prophet king or priest,
a. Things changed, and its trust was shattered.
23. It is little wonder that so many people were wary when it came to Jesus.
a. That even his first followers were slow to understand him.
b. But then in the face of illness he healed
c. in the face of violence, he forgave,
d. in the face of poverty and want, he fed
e. And through it all he preached about a time which was coming
1. where there would be no illness no violence or poverty.
f. He called it the kingdom of heaven,
1. and said it was like a bridegroom,
2. coming to take his bride to the wedding.
3. Some of the bride’s servants figured that he wouldn’t show;
4. not just yet
5. and they were confident that things would remain the same.
a. They were the ones Jesus called foolish
2. But others knew better; thus they were ready, confident in only one thing; the bridegroom’s faithfulness.
3. They were the ones who Jesus called wise.
2. Now even though his disciples were probably not scholars,
a. that word wise would have reminded them of a part of the Hebrew Scriptures called the Wisdom literature.
3. And even though we are not scholars we know this literature.
a. For it was the Wisdom writers
1. who wrote the famous words, “Vanity of vanity all is vanity”,
b. It was the Wisdom writers,
1. and not the Byrds,
2. who wrote the words to that famous 60's song “Turn, Turn, Turn, to everything is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven”
c. And it was the Wisdom writers
1. who wrote the words we hear in this evening/morning’s first reading;
. For they wrote that there is someone,
1. who seeks people out in the midst of the changes of life,
2. and if they are ready to meet her,
. she frees them from worry
a. for while like a beautiful woman she is resplendent
1. unlike a beautiful woman her beauty is unfading.
b. And thus in the face of the vanities and seasons and changes in life,
c. She remains.
1. She is wisdom,
a. which for the Wisdom writers was the personification of God,
b. in God’s unchanging faithfulness to Israel.
2. The servants were wise because they trusted in one thing,
a. God’s unchanging faithfulness to Israel.
3. The disciples were sure they would be wise, because they trusted
a. in God’s unchanging faithfulness to Jesus.
1. For he was the one who had come to teach wisdom,
2. and to announce the coming of the bridegroom.
4. And then the authorities arrested Jesus, tried him and killed him.
5. For his disciples that event
a. Was what the loss of my parents was for me
a. was what the loss of a loved one to CoVID-19,
b. the loss of our savings in the great recession,
c. the horror of September 11th was and is for any of us.
1. The loss of what we trusted in,
2. in the face of shattering change.
6. But then three days later, Jesus was given back to them at Easter.
7. For us the resurrection is something that happened 2000 years ago
a. It is at best an historical event, and at worst a fairy tale.
1. we struggle to see its relevance here and now;
1. for we face poverty, and violence here and now
2. We face the collapse of the city’s economy now,
3. the death of friends and family now
4. and the threat of war and terrorism now.
b. But for the First disciples the resurrection was not so much an historical event nor was it a fairytale; for them it was a promise
1. a promise that there was someone who they could trust would never change
1. even when everything changed. And that was Jesus.
2. For Jesus was more than the herald of the bride groom,
1. Jesus WAS the bridegroom,
3. And Jesus did more than speak of wisdom,
4. Jesus was Wisdom,
5. and to know him, to know what he said,
6. and to know the promise his life symbolized was the heart of wisdom;
c. that no matter what changes this life brings us, whether it is war or peace, prosperity or poverty, sickness or health life or death
1. one thing doesn’t change, and that is God’s faithfulness to us.
d. To know that is to be ready.
e. Ready for change.
f. Because it is coming.
g. And although change can be painful,
h. change can be hard,
i. ultimately change is not bad,
j. change is good.
k. Because change reveals to us the one who never changes,
l. who is with us and calls us to change,
m. and to place our trust there.