HOMILY OF THE 22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
THEME: NOT JUST THE LETTER OF THE LAW BUT THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW AS WELL.
BY : Father A.N. Abiagom, CM.
HOMILY: 1. In the readings, there are two aspects of the law that are implicitly stressed upon. The first is the letter of the law and its practice as evident by first reading from the text of the Old Testament (Dt 4,1-2-2.6-8). The second is the practice of the law as implied in the second reading from the New Testament (Jas 1,17-18.21b-22.27) and the Gospel (Mt 7,1-8.14-15.21-23). In the gospel however, the warning against hypocrisy with relation to the practice of the law is lucid.
2. In the practice of the law, the spirit of the law is very important. The Scribes and Pharisees were often preoccupied with the letters of the law while they failed in its practice. Every law is fulfilled by love. Jesus is the fulfilment of the law and the prophets. In the Sermon on the Mount (Mt Chapter 5 to 7) there are six antitheses, which show that Jesus is the fulfilment of the law. In Mt 5:17, he said his mission is not to abolish them but to fulfill them. Thus, “You have heard that it was said or how it was said, but I saw to you …” These words of Jesus invite us into the spirit of the law.
3. The laws of God are perfect and should not be changed or added upon. This fact is clear from the first reading. We are not just to know the law but to live it out. Many know the law, but how many observe its keeping? It is in keeping the law of God that we bear true witness to the world that we are children of God.
4. In the Second, it is made known to us that we should go beyond listening to doing. Without living the word of God, there is no point hearing it. Faith comes by hearing and doing.
5. In the gospel, the Scribes and Pharisees were concerned about the external practice of the law. In as much as Jesus did not condemn the external practice of the law, he demands more than the externals actions. The Scribes and Pharisees were more concerned with their outside while their inside were left unattended.
6. Imagine a mother who is preoccupied with cooking food for street children while she never cares to cook for her biological children. Imagine a father working towards the release of his neighbour’s son from prison whereas his own son in prison is forgotten by him. Imagine a person who encourages others to take shower but never does same himself or herself.
7. Hypocrisy lives with many of us today. How often are we ready to point out the flaws and failures of others while we often remain blind to our own weaknesses.
It is hypocrisy if a husband desires his wife to be submissive to him, but he himself is not ready to love his wife. It is hypocrisy if a wife expects love from husband when she I’d not submissive to him.
It is hypocrisy if a disobedient child hates his or her parents for not taking care of him or her.
It is hypocrisy if parents expect their children to be obedient to them, whereas they provoke their children instead of lovingly caring for them.
It will be hypocrisy is leader does not serve the people but expects to be loved by the people. It will be hypocrisy if a people frustrate the good intentions of their leader and still expect good administration from him or her.
It is hypocrisy for pastor to condemn his congregation as greedy when he himself is hardly generous to the poor.
It would be hypocrisy if members of a flock condemn their shepherd for a weakness, but are comfortable themselves in the same weakness.
It would be hypocrisy if a friend treats his or her friend like a leper when he or she was in trouble, but condemns the friend for not for not being there for him or her in the time of his or her own trouble.
8. If we look at ourselves, we will realize there areas of our respective lives that may be in serious need of repairs. If we are honest with ourselves, we would realise we have have sometimes failed to keep the laws of the Lord through sincere practice of them.
9. The inside of us is more important than the outside of us. The beauty of the inside sustains the beauty of the outside. If the outside is beautiful and the inside is ugly, the beauty of the outside will be valueless. Hence, ensuring our hearts are pure and that we are sincere in our practice of true religion in the love of God and neighbour is important for the salvation of our souls.
May God help us to firstly focus on ourselves to realise our weaknesses and come out of them, so that we would be able to help others effectively.
Happy Sunday to you.