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When the Egyptians turned the Israelites into slaves and placed them in bondage, what happened to the Israelites? The Bible says that the Israelites multiplied. The more burdens the Egyptians placed on the shoulders of the Israelites, the more their numbers grew. So how do you multiply? You fall in love, get married, and have kids. Picture in your mind an Egyptian taskmaster telling a poor young Israelite, “Take that pile of bricks and lug them up twenty stories to the top of the Pyramid.” That is one long, hard day. At the end of the day, the tired and sore Israelite drags himself home, his wife gives him a hug and then… they multiply. What can we learn from this? The could have turned to hate and violence against their oppressors, but they did not. They turn to love, and the reason why its because they know the greatness and power of God. They may have to wait, but they never give up on God. They have character.
Do you remember the three young men in Daniel? They were standing before the great Babylonian King, Nebuchadnezzar, and he said to them, “If you do not worship me or my statues I will have you thrown into the red hot furnace.” The three young men said, “We are not going to worship any other god but our God.” The king was so livid that he ordered the oven to be heated seven times more. Think about that for a moment. It takes time to heat up an oven seven times. If the furnace was a thousand degrees, then it would have taken some time to heat it up to seven thousand degrees. So there they are the three young men in the waiting room. I wonder what they will be thinking about while they are waiting? I know what I would be thinking. Perhaps they thought: “Do I really want to die a horrible death today?” Or perhaps I will be thinking about that new dream home I will never have or my career cut short. Maybe I am thinking about mom and dad when they get the bad news of my death. It is in the waiting room that we can negotiate better terms or compromise a deal. It is in the waiting room where people fold and cave into the pressure. But not our three young men. They are thinking about the greatness of God. No matter how long or how difficult it gets, never give up on God. That is character.
In the Gospel, the widow lost her husband. His possessions and inheritance are easily divided up by the lawyers. That gets us mad and we ask why do the priests at the temple not do something about this injustice?” Because the priests are getting a cut as well. They need money for the upkeep of the temple. So we turn to the judge. Why does the judge not render justice for the widow? Because he is on the take as well. The entire judicial system is corrupt. The widow does not stand a chance. What does the widow do? Well, she probably gets up in the morning and has a cup of coffee. Then she takes the dog for a walk, goes to the post office to mail a few letters. Next, she walks over to the courthouse to the judge’s chamber and beats on the door until her knuckles bleed… and she does it every day. Character. She never gives up. She never stops believing that God will be there for her.
I am a Red Sox fan. I don’t ask for much. I don’t ask that the Red Sox win the World Series every year. I don’t ask that the Red Sox have the best pitching. All I ask for is that the Yankees lose. So a few years ago the Yankees were in the playoffs. I turned the radio on to catch the score. The Yankees were losing 5 to 0 in the ninth inning. I thought it was safe to turn off the radio and go to sleep which I did. The next morning, I wake up and I decided to check out the results of the game. The Yankees won 6 to 5. How did that happen? I will tell you how: character. They never quite. The Yankees never miss an opportunity.
After Jesus spoke the parable of the unjust judge and credited the widow for her perseverance, Jesus asks his disciples, “When the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on earth?” In other words, do we have character? No matter how long it takes or how hard it is, we will never give up on God.Back to All Homilies