YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE TENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: TRUE RELATIVES
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
A professor of Philosophy gave an open-book examination to his class. He picked up his chair, set it on top of his desk and wrote on the board: “Prove that this chair does not exist.” The students opened their books and notes, and furiously wrote down their arguments to refute the existence of the chair.
One student surprised everyone when he submitted his paper after only a minute. They were more surprised when the results came. That student got an “A” in the exam. His answer was in two words only: “What chair?” Denying the existence of an objective reality may sound preposterous. But worse still is the denial of the existence of God. Atheism is spreading alarmingly fast, especially among the young people. Despite all the concrete and visible proofs in the world pointing to the existence of an omnipotent Being, atheists just would not accept this truth. As it is often said, a sleeping person can wake up, but a person pretending to sleep will not wake up, for he is already awake. He just does not want to wake up.
Such is the case with the scribes in the Gospel this Sunday. They are not atheists, for, as Jews, they believe in the One God, Yahweh. But they just could not bring themselves to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Despite all the signs shown to them by Jesus, they continue to reject him, and even plan for his death. This is what is being referred to as the unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit. The Apostle St. John spells it out: “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh; such is the deceitful one and the antichrist” (2Jn 1:7).
In the Gospel today, they accused Jesus of having the power to perform miracles as coming from Beelzebul. Should this accusation get enough traction among the people, that would surely lead to his loss of credibility. Fortunately, Jesus always has his way of defending himself and adroitly eluding their sinister plots. The idea of rejecting Jesus and the will of God is such a frightening thought. But we ought not be complacent, for we are now living in a world that has developed a culture that is averse to God. Weak as we are, we can fall prey to this kind of culture. St. Timothy warns all Christ’s followers on this: “A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. People will refuse to listen to the truth and turn to myths” (2Tim 4:3-4).
Against this frightening scenario, we need to have a foolproof defense to keep our souls safe and strong. The second part of the Gospel provides us with such. The Lord himself gave his assurance: “You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed” (Lk 21:16-17). In other words, therefore, our only best defense is Jesus himself. Hence, remaining close to him at all times is always necessary.
But being close to someone is not only a matter of being related by blood. There are, in fact, blood relations that are just for convenience. A humorous quotation says, “Success is relative. When one becomes successful, he acquires more relatives.”
The Gospel account illustrates a more profound manner of being closely related to Jesus. While teaching in the synagogue, someone informed him that his mother and cousins arrived, probably to convince him to take some rest and food. But Jesus, apparently disregarding them, asked, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” (v. 33). Then, looking at his listeners, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. [For] whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” (vv. 34-35).
Family and blood relation is quite vital in the life of every human being. But Jesus is saying that it is not an absolute priority. In fact, the best way to be close to Jesus is not by blood relation, but by obeying and doing the will of God. Obedience to God is the perfect way to be truly close to Him.
St. Thomas Aquinas has this to say: “Obedience unites us so closely to God that in a way transforms us into Him, so that we have no other will but His. If obedience is lacking, even prayer cannot be pleasing to God.” When we obey God, we fuse our will to His will, and we practically and intimately become one with Him. Such is the example shown to us by the Blessed Mother. Her absolute ‘fiat’ to God’s will all throughout her life effectively united her with God, thus transforming her from being a simple maiden of Nazareth into the ‘Woman Clothed with the Sun.”
Obedience is never attractive to people especially in these modern times. It is not easy, and definitely not a good idea to surrender or subordinate one’s will to another. This explains the resistance of many towards obedience to God’s will. Submerged in the spirit of pride and self-sufficiency, modern man would always choose to follow his own plan and insist on his will, even against the will of God. The world is in a very precarious state. This is simply because God is being marginalized by modern society. Pope Benedict XVI observed: “The crisis we are living through carries with it signs of the exclusion of God from people’s lives, a general indifference to the Christian faith, and even the intention of marginalizing it from public life.”
More people want God out of their lives. Schools do not anymore teach children about God and His commandments. The world of business and politics worship, not God, but money and power. Many governments publicly attack the Church and ridicule God. The non-stop barrage of invectives hurled by President Duterte of the Philippines against the Church and even against God, is a lucid example of this.
Such attitude and behavior bring in more self- inflicted misery and disaster upon humanity. The unabated incidents of drug-related crimes, the rampant spread of immorality and vices against nature, the ever-increasing number of schoolchildren killed by deranged gun-wielding criminals, and many other natural and man-made calamities are just few examples of how the rejection of God and His laws results in untold suffering and pain for the whole world. Indeed, the devil is having the heyday of his life. The only way for the world to survive is for people to return to God and once more obey His will and His laws. A quotation from the Servant of God Fulton Sheen may be a good reminder and principle in our life: “Have you ever noticed, in the Creed, how quickly we pass over the life of our Lord? “Born”, what’s the next thing? “Suffered under Pontius Pilate.” Suffered. Nothing about the Beatitudes, nothing about His miracles, nothing about His conflicts with the fundamentalists and modernists of His time, just “born” – “suffered”. Why does the Creed pass over His earthly life? Because there’s only one thing to be told about a human life: DO WE OR DO WE NOT DO THE FATHER’S WILL?! The tiny little details, whether it’s the office of a priest, of a nun, a mother, a secretary, a doctor, a lawyer, it makes no difference. The details we can skip! Everything can be said about life if we did the Father’s will. He did it, therefore, omit the details.”
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Palmera Springs 3, Susano Road Camarin, Novaliches, Caloocan City 1422