YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 8TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE BELIEVER’S HEART
BY: Fr. Robert K. Apla-kweku
HOMILY: Readings: Sirach 27:4-7/1 Corinthians 15:54-58/
Your Christian Duties Begin in Your Own Heart The Church’s post-Easter liturgical season is a time for confirming of our faith, and it is appropriate that we listen once more to Jesus’ teaching to see whether it is maturing in our own lives. Today’s readings focus on one essential, “imperishable” attitude that needs to be part of every Christian’s life, if he or she wishes to live true wisdom and to put on the immortality of life with the risen Lord (1 Corinthians 15:54.) It is an attitude that will not come easily, but rather something in which we must “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord… Labour is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58.)
Called to produce good out of the good treasures faith has placed in the believer’s heart (Luke 6:45), each Christian is called to be like the teacher (Luke 6:40.) However, this striving to imitate the Lord can be weakened and stunted altogether when one allows a judgmental attitude to take root in one’s life. Constantly criticising others, and always passing judgmental their motives and actions, results from the “power of sin,” part of its sting (1 Corinthians 15:56.) This perishable attitude leads to spiritual death.
Luke’s warning and pastoral advice may well be appropriate for believers still, and we should be mature enough to examine ourselves on this potential weakness. The problem is not believers passing religious judgment on the possible immorality of unbelievers, but believers passing judgment on believers, sisters and brothers finding fault with each other. The post-Vatican II Church has witnessed polarisation and divisiveness; believers have found fault with other believers’ approaches to liturgy, Church structures, forms of renewal. We have seen personal attacks grow out of disagreements about external adaptations, and experienced a schism, the first in a century, filled with recrimination and fault-finding.
Some Christian individuals and groups, rather than build on their common faith, have preferred mutual condemnation, as one or other arrogantly claims truth and orthodoxy, zealously wanting to remove a speck from someone else’s eye, while missing the log in their own (Luke 6:42.). The experience of Catholicism has also been witnessed in other Christian traditions, as contemporary persecution becomes more and more the mutual persecution of Christians by Christians.
In the face of such cosmic realities, it seems rather lame to speak of noting the splinter in your brother’s eye rather than being aware of your own hampered vision. Is that to be taken as an answer to the world scene? For if the flaw in your brother is a problem with you, does that not indicate a critical view of your own flaws? For you cannot treat others any way except the way you treat yourself. If you can be savage in your comments on another, no one need doubt you are just as savage with your own heart, revealed in your speech. The beam in your own eye has never been removed in mercy not the speck you see in your brother’s eye.
We need to meet mercy if we are to do mercy to others. Anything less is sheer waste. The sinful heart that has accepted Christ’s mercy approaches another in quite a different mode than does the one foreign to it. Today’s readings remind us that we are called to new life with the risen Lord; a life that results both from his gift and our efforts. Part of our effort is to remove obstacles to growth, and one of the most important blocks that festers when left uncured, is arrogant judgment of other believers. Today provides an occasion to examine ourselves in this critical area of Christian life. Amen.
By Fr. Robert K. Apla-kweku