YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: WE HAVE THE TRUE FAITH!
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Here is a story I gathered from the Internet. This happened during a graduation ceremony on May 20, 2001 at the Washington Community High School, in Washington, Illinois. (cf. http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/sneeze.asp ). “They walked in tandem, each of the ninety-two students filing into the already crowded auditorium. With their rich maroon gowns flowing … and the traditional caps, they looked almost as grown up as they felt. Dads swallowed hard behind broad smiles, and Moms freely brushed away tears.
This graduating class would NOT pray during the commencements – not by choice, but because of a recent court ruling prohibiting it. The principal and several students were careful to stay within the guidelines allowed by the ruling. They gave inspirational and challenging speeches, but no one mentioned divine guidance and no one asked for blessings on the graduates or their families. The speeches were nice, but they were routine…..until that final speech that received a standing ovation.
A solitary student walked proudly to the microphone. He stood still and silent for just a moment, and then, it happened. All 92 students, every single one of them, suddenly SNEEZED!! The student on stage simply looked at the audience and said, “GOD BLESS YOU, each and every one of you!” And he walked off stage. The audience exploded into applause. This graduating class had found a unique way to invoke God's blessing on their future with or without the court’s approval.”
For me, this is the best valedictory speech: “God bless you!”
Nowadays, we see various systematic and concerted efforts from secular society to erase God from the lives of the people. Secular governments all over the world, the United States for one, are becoming more and more bold in their attempts to put God away from public life and curtail religious freedom. It is a blatant and deliberate attempt to take away the Christian faith from us. We have to be very vigilant. Faith is a gift from God, and it could be totally lost. Losing our faith is very disastrous to our soul.
In our relationship with God, there are three theological virtues: Faith, Hope and Love. St. Paul said that these are the three things that last. And the greatest among them is love. St. Thomas Aquinas added some qualification to that statement. He said that in the order of dignity, it is true that love is the greatest. But how can we love God when we do not know Him? There is a philosophical principle in Latin: “Nil volitum, nisi praecognitum.” Nothing is desired unless it is known beforehand. It is faith that helps us to know God. And we can love God only if we know Him. So, in the order of knowledge, faith comes first. Losing our faith, therefore, means to lose our means to know God, making it impossible to love Him.
The Gospel this Sunday gives us the story about two miracles done by Jesus: the healing of a woman who was hemorrhaging for twelve years, and the raising back to life of a twelve-year old girl, the daughter of Jairus.
There are two things we need to mention. First is the detail on the number twelve. This number represents the twelve tribes of Israel, the basis for the establishment of the Church founded on the twelve apostles. In other words, these miracles done to these individuals were symbolic of God’s saving work in the Church. The second is the preeminent role of faith in the miraculous events. The woman touched the garment of Jesus, uttering to herself: “If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured.” And in the second instance, Jesus made sure Jairus had faith in him: “Do not be afraid. Just have faith.” It is faith that moves the hand of God to do wondrous deeds. It is not the other way around. Some people think that for them to have faith, they need to witness a miracle. “To see is to believe”, they say. That is wrong. As the Gospels clearly illustrate, one has to have faith first, and this faith will produce miracles: “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.’ Nothing will be impossible for you” (Mt 17:20).
Let us, therefore, examine our faith. Every Sunday at Mass we recite the Creed. It contains all the most important and fundamental truths of our faith revealed to us by God. If we believe in something, which is contrary to any of these truths, we are committing sin against faith. It is truly important to know and study the doctrines of our faith as taught to us by the Church since the beginning. Knowing them, we must also adhere and hold on to them with firm belief and conviction.
And secondly, trusting more in one’s self, in other persons and things rather than in God is definitely wrong. Trusting in our own intelligence and powers, or relying solely on money or in other persons, totally disregarding God’s providence, are sins against faith. We must trust in God over and above everything in this world. We are truly blessed and fortunate that, despite our unworthiness, God granted us the gift of faith. We are duty bound to protect and defend it, and to make sure it is nurtured through study and prayer. And most importantly, God expects us to share our faith with others. The more we share it, the stronger it becomes. In fact, these times call for a “new evangelization.” Pope Benedict XVI explained that, “the term “new evangelization” recalls the need of a new way of evangelizing… in order to convince modern persons, who are often distracted and insensitive. That is why the new evangelization must find ways to make the proclamation of salvation more effective, the salvation without which life is contradictory and lacking in what is essential.” (Address to members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, May 30, 2011).
As followers of Christ, it is our duty and our mission to share and spread our faith and thereby fulfill his command: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature” (Mk 16:15).
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422