Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year C
October 02, 2022 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Habakkuk 1:2-3;2:2-4 | Psalm 95:1-2;6-9
II Timothy 1:6-8;13-14 | Luke 17:5-10

+In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.

 I just finished reading a book recommended by Bishop Peter Hickman titled “People of the Lie” by Dr. Scott Peck.  This book was first published in 1983, but I shied away from it at that time since the focus of it is on the hope for healing evil in humans, and it devoted a considerable amount of its content to the My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, which happened on March 16, 1968.  For those who are unfamiliar with this atrocity, the My Lai Massacre was the mass murder of around 500 unarmed South Vietnamese civilians by United States Army troops during the Vietnam War.

In nineteen-sixty-eight, my first husband, who died at the age of 28, was a Medic with the US Army and was stationed in Vietnam.  He witnessed this massacre and suffered a nervous breakdown as a result.  He later testified against Lt. William Calley, the only officer to be convicted, at his Court Martial in Vietnam.  It is interesting to note that the facts of this massacre are not correctly reported in the book, as Dr. Peck states that no one came forward to report this crime until over one year later.  In truth, it was reported immediately, and the Court Martial of Lr. Calley occurred in July of 1968 in Vietnam.

Currently, we are all witnessing another massacre taking place in Ukraine under the orders of Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia.

Besides these two, other evil people in history include:

–Adolf Hitler- the Fuhrer of the Nazi Party who falsely believed Jews were the cause of all problems and set out to eliminate them.  His actions resulted in the death of over 50 million people.

–Joseph Stalin- the dictator of the Soviet Union whose decisions led to a famine that killed over 20 million people.

–Pol Pot- the leader of the Cambodian revolutionary group the Khmer Rogue, which orchestrated the Cambodian genocide of over 2 million people.

–Saddam Hussein- the dictator of Iraq whose policies caused the death of over 2 million people.

–Mao Zedong- the dictator of China whose actions killed around 70 million people through forced labor, executions, and starvation.

–Genghis Khan-the emperor of Mongolia whose actions killed around 60 million people during his reign.

So, let me ask you, why do people turn so evil that they can embark on genocide, slavery, or mass killings?

According to Paul Bloom, a professor of psychology at Yale, people do really horrendous things to other people because they do not see them as people but as morally responsible for whatever problem is at the top of their agenda.  They do not believe they are killing people.  This is what is called instrumental violence, where there is some end they want to achieve.  This is exactly what happened in the Nazi concentration camps and at My Lai.

Today, our Gospel invites us all to reflect on one of the most important aspects of our lives—our faith in God.  Faith does not mean acknowledging the existence of God; it means trusting in God.  It is through our faith that we can overcome any temptations from sin: namely pride or self-centeredness, greed or envy, and misuse of power.  By letting the Holy Spirit work within us every day to help remake us in the image of Jesus, we can succeed in becoming our true selves.

And today, we are gathered here to share in the baptism of Alexia, who will soon become the newest disciple of Jesus.

Our readings today show us how to overcome evil and violence. Do you remember in the Gospel of Mark that Jesus tells us, “You have heard that it was said of old: love your neighbor hate your enemy.  I say to you, love your enemy, do good to those who hurt you, and return good for evil.”  It is through our faith that we can overcome the ugly and dark side of life.  Through our faith, we gain the power to free ourselves from despair, hopelessness, and wickedness.

We are told in our first reading from Habakkuk that the just ones will live by their faithfulness.  God will be there for all the faithful, so we must put our trust in God.

In our second reading from Second Timothy, Paul reminds us, “stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands” and “take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus”  Our lives are a journey of faith, and it is God who moves us to seek every opportunity we can to do His will by loving all people and striving to be like Jesus.

The Gospel from Luke reminds us that we must be patient while waiting for God.  Luke uses an example of a master and servant to get his point across.  No servant would expect to come to work and have the employer wait on him or her.  We need to pray and wait patiently for God to respond.

Can you even imagine what the world would have been like if some of the evildoers in history:  Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Josef Stalin, William Calley, Genghis Khan,  Saddam Hussein, and Mao Zedong had followed Jesus and had faith in Him instead of only considering their narcissistic selves and their wicked agendas?

So, let us all encourage each other to live by faith.  Those of you who actually feel that God is active in your lives need to tell others the Good News!

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father,
Encourage us to live by faith,
Let us invite one another to deepen our trust in the Lord,
Let us be witnesses to God’s presence,
And when we must walk in darkness, let us also walk by the light of the faith of others.
Lord, increase our faith.