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Select Homily
November, 18 2018

33 Sunday in Ordinary Time (B)

Rev. Jim Schmitmeyer

He will send out the angels

and gather his elect from the four winds,

from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.


Out here on the plains of Texas, the ubiquitous tumble weed

might soon loose its iconic status.

Or, at least tumble aside far enough to share it with rows of wind turbines

sprouting like metallic flowers across the prairie.


In this part of the country, both weeds and people pay attention to the wind.

Folks will tell you that it’s a calm day…

when you’re not leaning.


Like Eskimos with their multiple designations for types of snow,

for generations, Westerns have judged the weather

by the feel and direction of the wind.


Now, add to that population a new group of workers who tend the wind turbines.


They’ll tell you that winds blowing nine miles an hour

begin to create energy.

but winds blowing more than 45 miles an hour

will shut down the turbines for the sake of  self-protection.


Their insight helps us understand the variance in velocity

blowing across today’s turbulent gospel passage.


The dramatic scene opens with angels riding gusts of wind across starless skies,

supernatural first responders swooping down to rescue the chosen of God

off rooftops and canyon ledges.


Then, without warning, a sudden calm.


The ominous prospect of devastating winds

is, for time being, tempered:

But of that day or hour, no one know.

Neither the angels in heaven,

nor the Son, but only the Father.


How do we respond to the whirlwind of thoughts

stirred up by passages like the one we’re given today?


The theologian Fr. John Kavanaugh comes to our aid

with an astute observation.

He writes that this text might not be so much a warning about the end of the world

as it is a commentary on living in it.


In other words,

like dry-land farmers on a windswept plain,

the chosen of God dwell in a world alternately sunny and dark.


The lesson is clear:

our adherence to Christ must remain constant despite the climatic conditions.

Family arguments and family reunions.

Social crises and social progress.

Economic recessions and creative productivity.


Also, like those workers tending wind turbines high above the ground,

the chosen have received sufficient instruction to judge the signs of the times.

We know what sort of breezes

produce lives energized with grace.


And we know when to hunker down

—and scan the sky for angels—

if the wind gusts too strong.






“This Land” by Dan Barry, The New York Times, August 4, 2008.


The Word Encountered: Meditations on the Sunday Scriptures by John Kavanaugh, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, New York (1996), pp. 116-119.

© 2009 Fr. Jim Schmitmeyer

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