12th Sunday A
21st June 2020
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
“If you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything”
“Friends, colleagues, Church and State pay tribute to slain detective” so read the headline on Friday morning over a photograph of a smiling Colm Horkan, the detective Garda who was killed while on the line of duty in Castlereagh this week.
You are familiar with the tragic nature of his death. It was an immense shock for the Gardaí, for the community he served and for his family.
In people’s reactions to his death it was remarkable to hear such an articulate and spontaneous outpouring of admiration of and appreciation for the extraordinary gift of kindness and generosity Colm Horkan brought to his life and his work. In an utterly unpretentious manner, he supported people in all kinds of circumstances and they have not been shy in sharing it.
Colm Horkan was clearly an outstanding human being whose sensitivity and generosity of spirit touched the lives of so many. His funeral is due to take place today. May he rest in peace. Our prayers and condolences to his family, his colleagues and his community.
I mention these sad circumstances because they evoke a strong sense of the contribution that one person can make in the life of a community. The Gospel speaks of every hair in our head, having been counted and not to be afraid. Not to fear those who can kill the body rather fear those who can kill both body and soul. This dramatic language is used deliberately to make the point that the smallest things in life matter – all form part of the bigger picture, the full frame of life.
Right now, the world is suddenly engulfed by two very different but connected realities that have us focus on the fact that life matters, all lives matter, specifically that Black Lives Matter. Behind, underneath both issues are the value and priority that is given to individual people. People rightly get angry, hurt and frustrated if people treat them like they do not matter.
As we cope with both challenges of the Covid pandemic and racism/prejudice we are being called to be conscious and aware of the impact that our individual conduct has on the lives of others. Those who have affected real positive change in communities and nations have done so on the rock of our common humanity and individual worth/dignity.
Too many of the so-called great leaders did so at the expense of the ordinary people and did so by violence. Many brave women and men have paid with the price of their lives for this witness. The Gospel speaks chillingly of the challenge of Christian witness. It calls for an unequivocal voice that echoes to each new generation ones standing firm, as Christ taught us, for the truth, a sense of truth that is life giving for all, not just for the few.
It calls for a strong sense of the dignity and worth of the gifts God has given us in life. From which we can give witness to another and indeed to the stranger. From that self-appreciation we can value and cherish the diversity of individuals, of races, of cultures and language. From that appreciation of diversity, we can stand witness for the dignity and worth of God’s creation of all in His likeness.
This is the vision and dream that Jesus bore witness to in life and in death. It is that same witness that he invites us His disciples, to embrace and embody in life.