YEAR A: HOMILY FOR TUESDAY OF THE 5TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE LAWS OF GOD
BY: Fr. Benny Tuazon
HOMILY: (Mk. 7:1-13) Tuesday of the First Week in Ordinary Time
In today’s Gospel Jesus was questioned by the Pharisees and the scribes regarding His disciples eating with unclean hands. It was a violation of the tradition of the elders. Jesus took the opportunity to question those traditions which dwelt more on external cleanliness and had lost the true essence of the act of purification. From the original commandments given to Moses, the laws had multiplied to a great number. Additional laws were made in order to address emerging situations and to help them fulfil the laws. Unfortunately, the essence of the law was lost in the interpretation and in the attitude of merely following the letter of the law.
Jesus, who knew the spirit of the law of God, tries to bring back the law to its original place. Mere following of the law in words and external actions do not satisfy its spirit. The laws should not only be known, but also understood, believed, and lived. Since they came from God, we should regard it as an imperative. The laws of God are our guide in life and way to salvation.
The commandments are relatively easy to follow. The harder part is to accompany compliance with conviction and commitment. It is easy to attend worship on Sundays. It is hard to participate actively and wholeheartedly in the celebration. It is hardest to live that worship after the celebration when we are expected to live its messages like; forgiveness, generosity, proclamation of the Word of God, love, peace, etc.
It is easy not to to be tempted and commit an act of killing another person. It is hard to refrain from attacking the reputation of another person with our harsh and destructive words. It is hardest to wrongly accuse another and destroy his person. Likewise, we may not have committed stealing nor robbery but we may have deprived others by our selfishness and extravagance. Worst, in gaining something, others lost everything. In other words, the commandments were not limited to their letters. God meant them for deeper things. Worship, respect for life and properties, and all other commandments of God are inclusive. No wonder, when asked which is the greatest of the commandments, Jesus responded with love of God and neighbor.
Being a faithful Christian means relating excellently with God and neighbour. Following God’s laws is founded on love. The responsibility to love is not bounded by time, place, and people. With Christian loving, we can never go wrong.
The rich young man who approached Jesus and asked how he can attain eternal life realized this. He followed the commandments from his youth. Yet, it was not enough. Jesus put him to test by challenging him to give up everything and follow Him. He failed. His riches was more important to him. Mere following the laws did not automatically merit him eternal life. He needed to follow Jesus and make Jesus his non- negotiable. Zacchaeus was different. He was willing to part with everything he had. He promised to repay those he had defrauded and give half to the poor. That was true repentance. That was a good example of knowing, understanding, believing, and living love of God and neighbor.