YEAR B: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TOPIC: ACCEPTING OR REJECTING JESUS
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Mk 6:1-6
Message # 587: “Jesus Christ is the Only Savior”
1. The Marian Message
a) In the first part of her message (letters b to e), the Blessed Mother repeats the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel and gives a simple explanation. The Prologue may at first be very vague to many of us, but Mary’s explanation here will surely help us understand it better.
b) This message was given on January 01, 1997, the Feast of Mary, Mother of God. Here she is persistent in her declaration that “Jesus Christ is the only Savior” (letter g). Being the Mother of Jesus, the Incarnate Son of God, she knows the truth about her Son. He is truly God.
c) “He is God with us” (letter h). God has fully abased Himself in becoming man, “to become completely one with all of you.” Jesus is true God, but he became like us in all stages of human life, in every human experience. All these he endured to be one with us. He is not anymore far away from us; He is with us.
d) “He is God for us” (letter i). Jesus assumed the human nature, except sin, for only one purpose: to save us. He is for us. He endured everything so that he might serve us and save us from the dominion of sin and evil.
e) “He is God in us” (letter j). The very reason why God wanted us to be saved is to make us partakers in his divine life: “full communion of life with God.” In becoming man like us, he has become one in us. And he also wants us to become one in him. And that is precisely what heaven is all about: being with God now and for eternity.
f) Knowing these truths about Jesus, the God in the flesh, should lead us to come closer in following him. There is no other savior. And this is the mission of Mary: “My motherly task is that of leading you all to Jesus Christ, your God and your Redeemer” (letter k). And this is the key towards true and lasting peace in the world, in our families and within ourselves.
2. The Sunday Gospel
a) For the past two Sundays, the Gospels gave us stories about the great fruits of faith. When there is faith, the hand of God begins to work. Jesus stopped the wind and the waves. Then he reprimanded his disciples on the boat: “Why are you afraid? Do you not yet have faith?” Last Sunday, Jesus healed the hemorrhaging woman and raised to life the daughter of Jairus. These miracles were done on account of the faith of the woman and Jairus. When there is faith, nothing is impossible. Indeed, faith works wonders.
b) This Sunday, the Gospel gives us the effect of NOT having faith. Jesus went home to his native place, the town of Nazareth. Instead of believing in him, his townmates took offense at him. They looked down on him and even maliciously cast doubts on his power and reputation. They just could not accept him. And the Gospel said: “He was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.” If faith can move mountains, lack of faith puts mountains to block the hand of God.
c) Faith is the acceptance of Jesus as true God in the flesh. He is the “human face of God”, the expression used often by Pope Benedict XVI. Believing in him as God and in all the truths he revealed and taught is the way to accept him. This is what the Blessed Mother is trying to do as her motherly task. “My motherly task is that of leading you all to Jesus Christ, your God and your Redeemer” (letter k). On the other hand, not to believe in him is rejection of his divinity and his teachings. This was what happened to the people of Nazareth. But rejecting Jesus does not in any way do harm to him; it is those who reject him who do harm to themselves: “Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (Jn 3:18).
d) The people of Nazareth rejected Jesus for three (3) reasons. First, because they lacked faith in Jesus. We know that faith is a gift from God. Not all people receive this gift. At some point in time, however, a person may have an opportunity to hear and know about Jesus, but many of them choose to ignore him altogether. This is the sin against faith, which is called obstinate and culpable ignorance. This is precisely the case with the people of Nazareth.
e) Second reason for rejecting Jesus is error. The people of Nazareth have already their own set of beliefs and ideas about the coming Messiah. And Jesus could not fit into these pre- set ideas. They wanted God to adjust to their own ideas, to follow what they wanted. They wanted to dictate on God. So they insisted on their erroneous ideas and beliefs. Persisting in error, despite opportunities of learning the truth, is another sin against faith. Jesus came to teach them about the truth. But they would hear none of it, and even tried once to push him down the cliff and kill him.
f) The third reason is jealousy. Their words clearly revealed their jealousy: “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon?” They resisted the idea that a mere “carpenter” will come back to them, teaching with authority and performing wondrous deeds. “How can he be better and more powerful than us when in fact he is a nobody in our town?” Basically, this is rooted in pride.
3. Points for Reflection
a) The truths of our faith are contained in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scriptures. These are the Deposits of Faith. These truths are immutable. They will never change. These have been entrusted by Jesus Christ to the Magisterium of the Church – the Teaching Authority of the Church. The Magisterium is the Apostles of Jesus Christ. Their successors are the bishops. These teachings and truths have been safeguarded and proclaimed by the Magisterium through the ages. We profess all these in the Creed (Apostles and Nicene) every time we come to Sunday Mass. How well do we know the truths contained therein? And how seriously do we believe and hold on to these truths? Do we feel inspired to share these truths with others? The martyrs of the Church have shown us the example we must follow. They were ready to die rather than denounce the truths of the Christian faith.
b) Nowadays, we oftentimes hear some Catholics saying, “I believe in God and in Jesus Christ. But I don’t believe in the Catholic Church!” These people are no longer Catholics! They have become heretics, and very soon apostates. They have totally rejected one important article of faith contained in the Creed. In the Apostles’ Creed, it says, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.” This is further clarified in the Nicene Creed: “And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.” Jesus Christ established the Church on the foundation of the Apostles. To Simon Peter, he declared: “You are Rock, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevails against it.” Then he promised, “I am with you always until the end of time.” Rejecting the Catholic Church is tantamount to rejecting Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and all his teachings.
c) It hurts to hear the words: “Basta Katoliko, walang alam!” But this is true. Most probably the priests have not been doing their duty in teaching the faith. But we can understand their situation due to the great volume of parishioners and activities to attend to. But unfortunately, even if the priest is very zealous in giving teachings and seminars, it is the parishioners who are not interested in attending. They would readily attend social gatherings, bingo socials, gambling sessions, seminars for marketing (pyramid scams), and pay for expensive concerts and parties instead of going to free seminars on Christian doctrines and values. The truth is, there are a lot of valuable reading and video materials on catechesis, church teachings, and lives of the saints. But nobody bothers to look at them. Even such informative religious sites in the Internet are seldom visited. They are more interested in buying and reading romantic novels and the books of Harry Potter and the witches and vampires. No wonder, many Catholics do not know their faith, and this ignorance is a sin against faith because it is culpable ignorance.
d) Since the knowledge of many Catholics is at best superficial, most of us are easily swayed and convinced by the sweet talk of many false teachers of the faith. Because of this, many have totally abandoned the true faith (apostasy) and many others have rejected one or several truths of the faith (heresy). And there is a rapidly increasing number of Catholics who believe more in feng shui than in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Many are afraid to go against a superstitious belief than to go against a teaching of Christ (classic example: wedding “sukob sa taon” – they are afraid of this, but not afraid of the sin of living together without marriage – “sukob sa kumot”). Many read the horoscope every single day and truly believe in whatever it says, but they do not bother to read one line from the Bible every day. They would even question and doubt the words of Scripture, but not the words of the horoscope, the fortuneteller and the movie star. These are sins against faith: culpable error. Believing in erroneous teachings and persisting in error will surely lead a person to eternal damnation. It is tantamount to rejecting Jesus and his teachings.
e) Jealousy is a very common sin among us, especially Filipinos. It is definitely rooted in pride. We think of ourselves too highly. And we cannot accept the truth that there are people who are better than us. Masyadong bilib sa sarili. Nagbubuhat ng sariling upuan. And so we easily resort to intrigues and gossips in an effort to bring down the other guy: talangka or crab mentality. This is what Jesus said against the Jewish leaders of his time: “Woe to you, scholars of the law! You have taken away the key of knowledge. You yourselves did not enter and you stopped those trying to enter” (Lk 11:52). When jealousy prevails, nobody wins. Such is the pathetic plight of many Filipinos, here and abroad.
Song: “Isang Pananampalataya, Isang Pagbibinyag”
GUIDE QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE B.E.C.
1. Ano ang mga mali-maling turo (erroneous teachings) tungkol sa pananampalataya na narinig mo kamakailan? (Tulad ng sinasabi ni Duterte na ‘God is stupid’, at ‘Walang Purgatoryo at Impiyerno dahil and Diyos ay mapagpatawad at maawain.’)
2. Paano mo dadagdagan ang iyong kaalaman tungkol sa kristiyanong pananampalataya? Magmungkahi ng mga konkretong hakbang kaugnay dito.
3. Ano ang epektibong paraan upang hindi tayo madapuan ng nakakahawang sakit ng inggit (jealousy)?