FR. MIKE’S HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 2ND WEEK OF EASTER
THEME: THE STATUS OF OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
HOMILY: Jn 3:31‐36
The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven [is above all]. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him.
The most famous book that St. Augustine wrote is “The City of God”. It is a religious, political, and philosophical treatise on the fall of Rome. In this work, he argues that Christianity actually helped Rome survive. To illustrate his point, St. Augustine describes the existence of two groups or sub-cities, “The City of God” (believers, the elect) and “The City of Man” (non-believers, pagans), at odds with one another in Rome as well as in the entire society in general. He explains that since the fall of angels in the beginning of time, these two groups have contended for the souls of man everywhere, and these forces continue the fight over the hearts and souls of Romans and the general population.
Until now, this situation persists. There are two opposing camps: the City of God and the City of Man. And Jesus is clear about it. There is no middle ground: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Mt 12:30). Hence, in the Gospel today, He makes reference to this situation: “The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven [is above all].”
In Baptism we all have become God’s children and inheritors of the heavenly kingdom. Though we are in this world, we are just passing through. We belong to the City of God; we are citizens of heaven. Unfortunately, while we are ‘passing through’, many people make the fatal mistake of thinking they belong to this world. Heavily intoxicated by materialism and worldly pleasures and ambition, they uphold a value system and beliefs that are irreconcilable with the Christian faith.
Still many others embark on a futile effort to enjoy both worlds, trying to reconcile in their life the ‘Two Cities’. In the Filipino culture, this is what it means by “namamangka sa dalawang ilog.” The Jesuit priest, Fr. Jaime Bulatao, SJ, describes this as ‘Split-Level Christianity’: “the coexistence within the same person of two or more thought-and-behavior systems which are inconsistent with each other. The image is of two apartments at different levels, each of which contains a family, one rarely talking to the other.”
The Gospel today is challenging us to take a serious look at the status of our Christian life, and make concrete efforts towards personal renewal and conversion. Our actions, attitudes and behavior in life should reflect our Christian faith. Otherwise, we will inevitably end up severely divided and confused, spiritually and psychologically.
The real crisis that the world is experiencing now is what Pope Benedict XVI calls the ‘crisis of indifference’. In his address to the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization (May, 2011), he observed a growing “phenomenon” of people in modern society “who wish to belong to the Church but who are strongly determined by a vision of life that is opposed to the faith is often seen.” This cannot be, for as he pointed out, “being Christian is not a type of outfit that one wears in private or on special occasions, but something living and totalizing, capable of taking all that is good in modernity.”
It must be noted that the word ‘holiness’ is akin to ‘wholeness’. A holy person is someone who is authentic and integral, not superficial and hypocritical. That is why the Lord warned His followers against hypocrisy: “Look out, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees”(Mt 16:6). Otherwise, salvation is impossible: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:20). A split-level Christian cannot be holy, nor can he be called Christian at all.
Hence, there is a need for new evangelization. Starting with ourselves, our lifestyle as believers ought to be credible in order to be authentic witnesses of the Gospel, effective conduits of the grace of salvation for others.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches