What Can I Change? – Fr. Viet Nguyen

Fr. Viet Nguyen’s Homily July 18, 2020

“Have you ever wondered why there is suffering in the world? I think this is the age old question that everyone asks whether religious or not. It’s something that we know is in the world whether religious or not. It’s something that we know is in the world whether religious or not that we can see suffering outside of us, but also in our own lives. In some ways this parable that Jesus speaks of today kind of answers that in some way. The parable is about the Kingdom of Heaven how it’s like a man who sows seed, but also there’s the weeds that aren’t good and they ask, ‘Should we take those out?’ And the harvester says, ‘no because if you take it out you might take the good with it.’  There’s a principle that the good is not made possible unless it’s paired with the bad. The good is not made possible without being paired with evil. Now that doesn’t justify evil, but it gives a little glimpse of it. So let me give you an example: say you have children and you have to discipline them. To discipline them is kind of bad, right? To the child it might be perceived to be evil, but in your eyes you can see further than they can and you know that if you don’t discipline them they won’t be able to make it on their own outside in the world that it would be harsher outside than in the home. Say for instance in your own marriage, I’m sure that every married couple has had a fight. Now a fight isn’t desired, but you can’t help that they do happen, but often times if you’re willing to work through the fight and stay together it often brings you closer together doesn’t it? Take for instance this pandemic. Not desired, but we had to stay home and it’s a struggle. Every family I’ve asked, talked to says it’s been a struggle, but one thing they can see that it’s done is that it’s brought their family together it’s given them a chance to grow together to eat dinner together every day. If we took those weeds out, maybe we wouldn’t have been able to have those good fruits that have come about.

Now, look at your own life. What are the perceived evils in your own life that you can’t control? Oftentimes we look at those and we despair. We can’t understand it. We can’t see past it. We can’t see that anything good can come from it and we don’t take action in our lives, but if we have faith that there’s something greater then we can move forward. The goal for us in Heaven is that this principle won’t exist that there will just be the good, but here on earth we can’t help that it’s there. God doesn’t create evil, but he allows it to happen to bring a greater good. Will you let that be greater in you?

There’s a prayer that I pray often in very specific situations and it helps with this. It’s a common prayer. It’s the serenity prayer. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. Really it’s calling on the Holy Spirit in your life to guide you, but I want you to pray this and put in your own specific situations. ‘God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.’ What are the things you can’t change in your life, the things that you might perceive as evil that you can’t control? Well I can’t control that this pandemic is happening that my life has been kinda flipped upside down. I can’t control that maybe my children or my spouse get on my nerves from time to time. I can’t control that maybe I’m anxious about the future. I can’t change the weather. Really you can’t change anything outside of yourself, but then we ask again for the courage, the fortitude to change the things we can to look at our own lives our own sphere of influence. What can I change? Well I can change myself, my own actions, my own attitudes towards these things. What is God calling you to during this time? What virtues is He calling you to build during this time? And most importantly, asking God for the wisdom to know the difference because it’s relying on God and the faith of the hope to come that we can go through these things, so as you come before the Lord today where Christ is truly present before you in the Eucharist let us continue to ask the Lord for the strength and the courage to say the serenity prayer, to put in those specific instances of our lives into it, to be not afraid to hope in spite of evil. Amen.”