YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 7TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: BE HUMAN, BE HOLY.
BY: REV. FR. MAYERE HABILA.
HOMILY: What does it mean to be holy?
Many of us conceive holiness to be perfect, righteous, spiritual, godly, morally sound and so on. We may be right in our conception about holiness. The Bible has different meaning of holiness from what we know today. In the ancient time and during the time of Moses and the other prophets, holiness simply means; set aside, reserved for God alone, different from others and living different from others.
In the first reading today, God has told us what holiness is. He encouraged his people to be holy as he is holy (Lev 19:1-2). That’s to say, the people must be different, separated from others and reserved for him.
Before the coming of Christ into the world, the most widely held opinion was that, to be holy, the people of Israel had to be withdrawn from everybody even physically. They were not allowed to enter the houses of non-Jews or even take meals with them. They were not even to mingle, relate, interact nor shake hands with them because they were holy people. Every non-Jews was seen and regarded as unholy, infidel, unrighteous and were called dogs. They were regarded as pagans and were not to be seen close to any Jewish person. The Hebrews considered themselves holy because they were keeping the laws and the traditions of their ancestors.
The first reading of today try to correct this notion of holiness amongst the Hebrew people. It says, “You shall not hate your neighbours in your heart and you shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people” (Lev 19:17-18).
The first reading emphasises that, there should be no physical separation from other people, there should be no observation of special laws and norms among the people. God told them that for them to be holy, they must learn to love and accommodate all the people regardless of their tribe, culture, race, language or tribe. That is why the first reading continue by saying, “You must love your neighbour as yourself (Lev 19:18). For God, this is the perfect way of living a holy and righteous life.
The notion of holiness in our present day society is totally different from what the first reading told us. For some people, to be holy is to pray and fast daily, is to speak in tongue, is to be perfect, is to be spiritual, is to know the Bible font and back, is to go to Church everyday and is to live a moral life.
All these are good but do we humble ourselves when we do all these?
We have people today who look down on others and feel superior to others because they feel they are holier than them. For some people, once you don’t pray and fast like them, you’re not holy, once you don’t speak in tongue like them, you’re not holy, once you don’t go to the same Church with them, you’re not holy, once you’re not in the same society/organization with them, you’re not holy, once you don’t know the Bible like them, you’re not holy, once you don’t prophesy like them, you’re not holy, once you’re not as perfect as they are, you are not holy, once you’re not righteous as they are, you’re not holy, once you don’t dress and talk like them, you’re not holy, once you’re not in the same religion with them, you’re not holy and once you’re not morally sound like them, you’re not holy.
We have people in our offices, places of work, parishes, churches, dioceses who feels that, once they are not in charge of any post, nobody should hold it. They feel that, they are the most perfect and capable people to be in one particular position while looking down on others. They see nothing good in others simply because they feel they are perfect, holy and righteous more than them.
Today’s liturgy draws our attention on this “holier than thou” attitude. We are called to love our brothers and sisters not to condemn nor reproach them no matter their background, condition, limitation, weakness, status or nothingness. We should not hold grudges against anybody and not to take vengeance into our hands. We should learn to share with the weak, poor, orphans, widows, downtrodden and those in need. This is what holiness entails. When we do all this, we are living a holy life.
We pray in this Mass, that God should give us the grace to be holy and to love one another as ourselves, through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Let Love Lead!!
Happy Sunday to you my beautiful and handsome friends.