CYCLE I: HOMILY FOR TUESDAY OF THE 16TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
THEME: THE LORD IS FIGHTING FOR YOU
BY: Rev Fr Utazi Prince Marie Benignus Zereuwa
HOMILY: MEMORIAL OF SAINT APOLLINARIS, BISHOP, MARTYR
Exodus 14: 21 – 15: 1; Exodus 15: 8-9, 10 and 12, 17; Matthew 12: 46-50
I pray for you: God has justified you. May you continue to respond to this justification and live a life which gives witness to the mercy and kindness of our God. AMEN
How true it is that God is the reason that I can experience salvation. The focus can never be on me or what I have done, but on God and what God has done for me; and what he has done for you. Today’s readings are manifestations of the Lord’s mighty power and the response of those who see and believe in God’s awesomeness and seek to do what God would have them do.
The First Reading continues the account of the Exodus. In today’s verses the Egyptian army pursues the Israelites into the sea which has dried up for the Israelites. The sea (which was split in two and dried up for the Israelites) flows back, only to have all the Egyptian soldiers, chariots, and charioteers perish as God blows the water back upon them to drown them. Today’s First Reading begins as the Hebrews (Israelites) have finished their crossing the sea on dry land because the Lord has blown the waters apart. As the Egyptians follow, they see the fiery cloud which causes confusion in the ranks. The Lord then blows the water of the sea back to its normal place and the heavy metal and wooden chariots get stuck in the sea as the water returns, drowning all the Egyptian forces.
The Responsorial is the continuation of the song sung by the Israelites as they see the magnificent deeds God does on their behalf. The Responsorial is the hymn sung by the Israelites as they see how God has performed yet one more mighty sign to show the divine love for the Chosen People. God’s hand (and mouth) are seen (and heard) in their safe travel through the sea and the destruction of the Egyptian army by the sea.
In the Gospel, Jesus speaks about what behavior demonstrates a true relationship with Him and His Father. As Jesus was informed that His mother and relatives were outside the place where He is teaching, Jesus says something which sounds like a put down of His mother: “Who is My mother and. . .My relatives? . .whoever does the will of My heavenly Father is My sibling and My mother.” What makes us a relative of (in relationship with) Jesus and His is not blood lines, but seeking to do the will of God; becoming a Child of Covenant. Mary is the human who is in the closest relationship with Jesus, not just because of being His mother, but also because she was willing to do the will of God, and thus became Jesus’ mother. Her obedience led to her giving birth to Jesus.
Dear Sisters and Brothers, my good deeds are not what save me. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, has offered me the gift of salvation and forgiveness of my sins. My response should be to want to do the will of God. And the more I am willing to do God’s will, the more I can experience the closeness of the relationship which the Lord Jesus wants to have with me. Thus the order is: God’s mercy and love, my acceptance of God’s gift, my seeking to show my appreciation by doing what pleases the Father, and God drawing me into an ever deepening connection with the Blessed Trinity. My good actions are my response to what I have been privileged to experience, and not my experience being the result of my good actions.
I am reminded today that I am simul justus et peccator (“at the same time just and sinner”). I have fallen short of being on target with the Lord Jesus. I have sinned. There is nothing I can do to make up for my sinfulness. Forgiveness is a gift from God. I cannot earn that gift (or any other divine gift). I can ask for it, but I cannot do anything to make up for my sinfulness. Once I have been touched by the merciful and forgiving love of the Lord Jesus, I can only respond by living a more upright (just) life. The First Reading shows what God will do for those who call upon Him. Even though the Israelites complained about the situation in which they found themselves (with the Egyptians behind them and a huge sea in front of the them) and grumbled against God earlier in Exodus, God still performs deeds to save them and to lead them to a new relationship with God. They, too, were simul justi et peccatores. They were sinful, yet God made them just (God saved them). Trust in the Lord God; he is fighting for you. And he will give you victory.
I am being called to be in a relationship with the God who justifies me even though I am sinner. What makes me a sibling of the Lord Jesus is not anything I do on my own. It is not being of the blood line of Jesus. What makes me part of the family of God is our Father’s love of me and my willingness to do what our Father asks me to do as a sign of my acceptance of the gift of salvation offered to me through my Brother Jesus’ ministry, death, and resurrection. Even though I am a sinner (peccator), and I am justified (justus) not by anything I do but because of what the Son of the Abba has done for me. When I accept that, I am a sibling of my Brother Jesus!
*MEDITATION* What has been my response when I have experienced the great deeds of a loving and forgiving God towards me? Have I been able to sing God’s praises or do I somehow think that I deserve God’s kindness? What does it mean to me to be a child of God and a sibling to the Lord Jesus?
*PRAYER* Lord God, we are your children. We are sinners. We seek Your forgiveness and healing. Although we do not deserve – nor can we ever make it up to You – You have been willing to extend Your loving forgiveness to us. You only ask that we try to live a more on-target life, aiming towards You. You have justified us and made us Your holy people, Your chosen nation. We give You thanks and praise through Christ our Lord. Amen.
*O DIVINE WORD WHO TOOK FLESH FOR HUMAN SAKE, REDEEM US IN OUR SITUATION*
©️ Rev Fr Utazi Prince Marie Benignus Zereuwa