Only Jesus is the Solution to the World’s Problems

Homily for the Third Sunday of Year A

by Fr. Tommy Lane

It was distressing to see the corpses after the slaughter in Kosovo during the past week (1999). Sometimes I almost prefer not to watch the news because I wonder what bad news is waiting to be broadcast. The reality of life is that despite the progress of technology and communications, despite the progress of medicine, despite the progress of our Tiger economy, humanity has not changed. We still have envy, jealousy, greed, hatred, looking for power, dominating others and so many other things that have always caused problems and still are. And those are the underlying reasons behind so much of what we hear and see in our news everyday even though it is a different news item each day. And those are also the underlying causes beneath so many of the problems that each of us encounter in our lives from time to time.

The land of Zebulun and Naphtali that we heard about in our first reading also had a problem. It was invaded in 732 BC by a neighboring nation. Why? Again I would put it down to the same underlying problems; greed, looking for power, dominating others. But Isaiah made a beautiful prediction for these downtrodden peoples in contrast to their hurt past,

The people that walked in darkness
Has seen a great light;
On those who live in a land of deep shadow
A light has shone. (Isa 9:1)

Isaiah made that prophecy about the son of king Ahaz who would be the future king. That son, who became king Hezekiah, certainly was a great king, an outstanding king, but he wasn’t so good that he fulfilled all the prophecies made about him by Isaiah. In our Gospel Matthew quoted Isaiah’s prediction and said it was Jesus who fulfilled that prophecy. Hezekiah was showing great promise. It looked as if he would fulfill all the great prophecies. But it is only Jesus who fulfilled the prophecy.

It seems to me that we could say the same about all our progress now. The progress is certainly very good and has brought great benefits to humanity but has not cured any of the basic ills in humanity, such as envy, jealousy, greed, hatred, looking for power, dominating others. What Paul wrote to the Corinthians in our second reading applies today as much as ever,

I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose. For it has been reported to me about you, my brothers, by Chloe’s people, that there are rivalries among you. (1 Cor 1:10-11 NAB)

Human nature in every time and place is in need of healing from Jesus. It is only Jesus who can cure the basic ills of humanity. I really believe that the best way to conquer any problem is through prayer. We need to take other measures also, but the starting place is prayer. When we really believe and really pray solutions will be found or we get the strength to live with the problem, the strength to carry the cross. Even if there is darkness all around us, when we pray we can keep the light of God in us. When we conquer problems through prayer or get the strength from prayer to continue to live through problems, then the prophecy of Isaiah applies to us also,

The people that walked in darkness
Has seen a great light;
On those who live in a land of deep shadow
A light has shone. (Isa 9:1)

That is because when we pray, as our Psalm said, Jesus is our light,

The Lord is my light and my help
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
Before whom shall I shrink? (Ps 27:1)

So despite all our progress in so many ways, technology and communications, space travel, medicine, our Tiger economy, they are not the light because they have not cured any of the basic problems of humanity. Only Jesus is the light. Our first commandment, ‘I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me’ is stating a beautiful truth to bring us happiness. Any false god that we might run after, any tangent that we might go off on, is leading us from the light to darkness. I would like us to pray during this Mass for those who are in darkness at this moment that they may find the light of Jesus and overcome problems and difficulties. I would like us to pray for ourselves also that we may live more and more with Jesus as our light, and that the light of Jesus may shine out through us to others. What a wonderful world it would be then! What progress that would be! Then we need never worry about watching the news because it would be always good news. Let’s make the first verse of the Psalm our prayer:

The Lord is my light and my help
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
Before whom shall I shrink? (Ps 27:1)

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.

More homilies for the Third Sunday Year A

Leave the Boat and build up God’s Kingdom

"Come after Me" - The Call of the Disciples 2014

Related Homilies: If Jesus could use the Twelve apostles with their weaknesses he can use us

Answering God’s Call - Vocations in the Bible

Homilies on priesthood

Second Reading related: The Church of Jesus Christ is never my Church but always his Church 2012

stories about vocation