YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: OUR COMMON DENOMINATOR
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
HOMILY: First reading – Wis. 11:22-12:2
Second reading – II Thes. 1:11-2:2
Gospel – Lk. 19:1-10
I was always happy each time we treated the addition and subtraction of simple fractions during my elementary school days. One of my greatest joys was to note that no matter the magnitude of a fraction, it is not up to a whole number. To solve problems involving the addition and subtraction of fractions then, we always had to look for the least number which the denominators of each fraction can divide; and this we called the L.C.M – lowest common multiple. It may sound funny, but at the same time very wonderful to realize that no human being is a whole number. I mean, every mortal man is a fraction. No matter who or what we are, each of us is a member of some set of fractions that has something in common. There is fulfillment in realizing that “man is half and half”. There is joy in recognizing and participating in the common denominator given for every man. These points account for the satisfaction and peace got by the publican who came to pray in today’s gospel; and also the emptiness of the Pharisee who also came into the temple.
Jesus had always quarreled with the Pharisees mainly because of the way they carried themselves as whole numbers whereas everyone else was incomplete. In Lk 14:11 and Lk. 18:14, Jesus described the characters of the Pharisees. They wore long robes, to be called teachers of the law, to be greeted with prostrations, to take the number one positions and be announced when they came into a gathering. The sin of the Pharisee which Jesus frowned at, and which we saw being displayed by one of them who came to pray in today’s gospel, was that of pride. In the line of today’s gospel, I would like to define pride as the inability to recognize the common denominator for every mortal man. It is when we lose sight of our L.C.M that we, like the Pharisee, begin to count the many things we have got above our neighbor. That is when we start to look down on others. That is when we start to fail.
In God’s presence, we realize our common humble beginnings. We must recall that God fashioned man out of dust – cf Gen. 2:7. And after the man had sinned by the same act of pride, God reminded him this fact of where he came from, what he is and to where he must return “…you return to the soil, as you were taken from it. For dust you are and to dust you shall return” Gen. 3:19. Once every year – Ash Wednesday, the Catholic Church reminds us this when we receive the ash on our foreheads and calls on us to humble ourselves before God. Humility is the very essence of man.
To swell ourselves in pride means to forget the very humble beginning that is common to every human being no matter who you are or what you are. Our common denominator is our common origin and our common end. No one has got anything above the other. In Psalm 49:9, we are reminded that no matter what anybody does, no one can avoid coming to the pit of dust – the grave. Knowing this would make us as humble as being able to pray with the publican “have mercy on me, a poor sinner”. And God who does not spurn a humble contrite heart would have mercy on us.