Homily – Sept 29/30, 2012 ✦ 26th Sunday Ordinary Time – Cycle B
When a person is given a diagnosis of a life threatening disease a couple of things possibly happen. The person resigns himself to his fate, chooses to do nothing and waits for death. Or, that person makes a decision to put all a person’s efforts into fighting, living with and potentially defeating the illness that threatens life. The person probably starts asking questions seeking how to accomplish the mission of survival.
What medicines must I take? Are there alternative therapies? More Doctors I should be consulting?
How should I modify my life style? Should I be getting rest, taking alternative therapies?
What do I have to avoid? Smoking? Alcohol?
Jesus Christ has a diagnosis for what ails humanity and a cure for what threatens the life of humanity. Humanity’s disease could be called the fatal choice to continually put the self first, self-interest, selfishness and a corresponding lack of compassion for others. It chooses over and over again to seek wealth instead of sharing earth’s resources, choosing to dominate and rule people instead of seeking to build a community of equals, choosing to exploit the earth’s resources instead of seeking to protect the environment. All this selfish choice has led our human race to a death filled existence. When people choose to seek to think of themselves and how can I not be inconvenienced before choosing to sacrifice so that another can live (for example abortion – just one choice that refuses to think of “the other’s needs”) they contribute to building up what Pope Benedict has called the “Culture of Death.”
Jesus has given humanity the alternative to the Culture of Death, a culture of life. The cure is to embrace not just the message of a “teacher,” but to live the Way of the Cross. To be cured is to take on the mission, the work of Christ. That work is to convert the world to his vision of how to live life fully; to sacrifice self for the good of others. In other words to live as members of a new realm or order of humanity, the Kingdom of God.
MISSION is what we as church are to be about, every moment of every day. Like a patient focusing every energy on getting better, the church is to proclaim good news, Jesus is the cure for what ails humanity, putting every effort, every moment into the mission.
The gospel, today, lists things, though that will get in the way of accomplishing the mission of saving the world in union with Jesus.
- Infighting among Christians (and among people of Good Will)
While as Catholics we believe we hold the fullness of the truth and revelation of God’s love we can’t deny other churches have something good to bring to the table. Together we make up the Body of Christ and share his mission.
Church people also have to censure themselves and admit that even non-christian religions can further the building up of humanity into a community of justice and peace. Anyone who seeks to build-up instead of tear down the human community, surely, is “not against us” as Jesus says.
Even non-religious, non-spiritual resources can be used by God to get his mission accomplished…politics can be used to further the cause of the Kingdom (so be informed and vote for candidates that will further the values we hold as church), economics can be used (build a business and use the profits and resources for the good of others). The arts (music, literature, visual arts) can teach and help us imagine a world made new.
- Scandal – (That’s the part of the Gospel where Jesus suggests putting a huge stone around the neck and drowning a person!) By scandal we’re talking about people whose behavior don’t match what they say the believe and teach. “Do what I say, not what I do” like the parent who tells their child not to smoke because its bad for you while puffing away. Our witness becomes more effective when we practice what we preach. That’s what James has been drumming in our ears the last few weeks in second reading we’ve heard at Sunday Masses the last few weeks. Faith is not authentic unless you put into practice what you believe. Faith without works is worthless. So we’re called to be authentic. Don’t play act being a disciple and lead others down the wrong path by bad example.
- Mission is not served unless you get rid of bad habits and stop making poor choices. Jesus is not advocating self-mutilation in this Gospel when he says to cut off hands and feet and eyes, but the cutting our of our lives activities and habits that don’t further the mission.
If sloth (laziness) or excessive spending that keeps us from sharing wealth or porn which objectifies people or cussing or abuse of others has become a force in our lives…Cut It Out!!
Our very immortal soul depends on it.
God really does love us. Each Mass we are standing at the foot of the cross. We see how far Jesus was willing to go to make right the things we human beings have been doing that cause death. Encountering the risen Jesus in this Eucharist, his sacrificial love revealed in bread and wine, may we accept the medicine, the discipline of the Way of the Cross and be healed, saved from eternal destruction. May the Eucharist inspire us to go back wholeheartedly on MISSION – for the one we serve held nothing back. How can we refuse what little we have to offer?
It’s like we sung in the opening hymn this morning, (I Heard the Voice of Jesus, Verse 3)
I hear the voice of Jesus say,
“I am this dark world’s light
Look unto me, thy morn shall rise,
And all they thy day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In him my star, my sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk
Till trav’ling days are done.
(Text: CMD; Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889, alt. Music: Traditional English melody, adapted by Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1872-1958)