YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 27TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY TOPIC: HUMBLE SERVICE
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Gospel: Lk 17:5-10 – Attitude of a Servant
Message # 554: “My Victory”
(TO THE PRIESTS, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons, Marian Movement of Priests)
1. The Marian Message
The whole message of the Blessed Mother is about hope. Mary is the Queen of Victories. She has proven this several times in history (Lepanto and La Naval). Now the battle against the enemy is more serious and subtle. It is a spiritual warfare. Mary will lead us to victory (letter a). It is victory in our hearts (letter d); in our souls (letter e); in the Church (letter f); and over this poor humanity (letter g). She works her victory through us, her children consecrated to her Immaculate Heart (letter g)
- Background Information:
a) October is the Month of the Holy Rosary. Actually October is a Marian month because there are many feasts in honor of Mary: Oct 7- Our Lady of the Rosary; Oct 12 – Our Lady of Pillar; other Marian feasts celebrated before: Oct. 16 – Mary’s Purity; Oct. 20 – Mary, Wonderful Mother, and; 4th Sunday – Mary, Mother of the Dying.
b) Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. This was formerly the feast of Our Lady of Victory, to commemorate the victory of the Christians over the much numerous and powerful Turks (Muslims) in the naval battle of Lepanto. The Pope called on all Christians to pray the Rosary and seek the aid of the Blessed Virgin Mary for the victory of the Christian soldiers. It is recorded in the annals of history that the victory was attributed to the Blessed Mother, Our Lady of the Rosary. The Philippines had a similar miraculous experience at Manila Bay. The Christian soldiers, Spaniards and Filipinos, were heavily outnumbered by the Dutch who wanted to take over the country. This is the feast of La Naval, in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary. Incidentally, the Santo Domingo Church is the national Shrine of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. The patron saint of Quezon City is Our Lady of the Rosary.
2. Relation to the Sunday Gospel.
The Gospel talks about two important things in Christian life: faith and service. Both are clearly present in the life of Mary. (“I am the maidservant of the Lord” – servanthood; “Be it done unto me according to thy word” – faith). During these times of battle, these are two most effective weapons that we should all have. This is not our battle, but God’s. He is the one who wages the battle, we are just His instruments.
a) Faith – when a man has true faith, he becomes powerful because he lets God work through him. “The most powerful man on earth is the one who kneels down and prays.” God works in the man who prays with a faith even the size of a mustard seed
b) Serving the Lord – God is the Master; we are just His servants. A true servant does everything the master wants him to do. He may not understand fully the command. He just obeys God’s will, with faith, humility and docility. No doubts and complaints. Mary is the best example. Why is she powerful? Because she is always doing God’s will. Eventually God will make a way; He will make everything happen through the instrumentality of His faithful servants. We should all be thankful and happy that God has chosen us to be his servants. To be chosen as His servants is enough reward for us already. Sometimes we are discouraged by the seeming failure of our efforts and the criticisms of others. But those are all part of being God’s servants.
Let us just remain faithful servants of the Lord, truly humble in spirit and strong in faith. God will help us. He will grant us victory. With Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, Queen of Victories, we will win this spiritual warfare.
3. Points for Reflection
a) Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) was a great promoter of the Rosary. He wrote 12 Encyclicals and 5 Apostolic Letters on this topic. One day, in a dream, he had a vision of Satan talking with God. The devil was insulting God by disparaging the redemptive work of Jesus. He said that people only obey God because they are afraid of hell, and not because they love God. He challenged God to release him and the demons from hell for a hundred years, and in this way they can put the people to a test and determine who among them really belong to God. God accepted the challenge. So for a hundred years, all the demons in hell are roaming the world, tempting and deceiving people. When Pope Leo XII woke up, he immediately composed the Prayer to St. Michael. This must also be the reason why he was so zealous in promoting devotion to the Rosary. The vision must be true because we have seen in this last century the worst events in human history: 2 world wars, Freemasonry, abortions, immoralities, perversions, errors and all kinds of sacrileges and offenses against God. We are now in the most terrible period of the spiritual battle. But many people are not aware of this, or they just ignore it, despite all the many apparitions of the Blessed Mother all over the world. She reminds us that the Rosary is our weapon that will bring us victory in this battle.
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- b) “Lord, increase our faith!” This is the earnest prayer of the disciples. Have we ever prayed for an increase of faith? Many times we pray for an increase of income, wealth and power. Rarely, if ever, do we pray for an increase of faith. Imagine what we can do when we have faith. The Lord said that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can command a mountain to move, and it will obey us. He is not exaggerating. When a person has true faith, it is not anymore he who works; it is already God who works through him. So, there is nothing impossible anymore for a man with faith, for there is nothing impossible with God.
c) Many of us serve the Lord, but with ulterior motives. We oftentimes treat God as a business partner – “I will do this, but I want to be sure I get my fair share.” We serve, but we expect immediate recompense or reward. The Gospel tells us that this is not the right attitude of a true servant. God is our Master – He absolutely owns everything in this world. Even our life belongs to Him. We are merely His servants. This is not degrading to us. In fact, it is the greatest privilege and honor for us. The truth is that God does not need our help or our service. He does not need anything. To be chosen as His servants is enough reward for us. In the absolute sense, we do not posses anything that will make us worthy to serve Him. But in His generosity and love for us, He gives us the opportunity to serve Him so that we can share in His creative and redemptive work – in His eyes, we are His co-workers and collaborators in the work of creation and redemption. This is why, parents who beget children are called “procreators”.
d) God loves us all unconditionally. God’s love for each of us is already so total, personal, unconditional, and untiring that nothing we do can increase or decrease it. As His children and servants, His love for us does not depend on our “performance”. We don’t have to achieve great things in order to win God’s love for us. We should strive to use our talents to serve God and neighbor, because that’s what we were created for. And it’s fine to take pleasure in a job well done when we experience a little bit of success. But the meaning of our lives doesn’t come from our achievements. The meaning of life comes from the fact that God created us out of love, redeemed us out of love, and guides us towards heaven purely out of unconditional, overflowing love. And so the servant in God’s Kingdom works energetically, joyfully, and peacefully as a response to that gratuitous love of God, in gratitude for God’s gifts – not worrying about what he’s going to get in return. God’s love doesn’t depend on our achievements; our achievements flow from knowing how much God loves us and from wanting to thank him. This is true humility. It takes the pressure off from our relationship with God and allows us to experience true freedom, the freedom that comes from being God’s children. This is what the Lord wants us to learn. Instead of letting our achievements go to our heads, Jesus wants to teach us how to make them flow from our hearts.
e) There is only one commandment, according to Jesus. This is the commandment of love, but it has two sides: the first is love of God, and the second is love of neighbors. We express our love of God by our love of neighbors. After all Jesus said, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” But we must be clear on this: we love our neighbor because of God. If we love and serve our neighbor for their sakes only, we are mere social workers or philanthropists, but not Christians. As Christians, we love and serve others for only one reason: because we see God in them. There is the story about a tourist who went to Calcutta and she saw the nuns of the Sisters of Charity founded by Saint Teresa of Calcutta. One nun was cleaning the wounds of a dying old beggar. She was nauseated at the sight and said, “Sister, I will not do that even if someone will give me a million dollars.” The nun quickly replied, “And neither do I!” In other words, the nun was doing it, not for any monetary recompense or reward. She was doing it solely for the love of the Lord Jesus.
f) Saint Teresa of Calcutta said: “We are at Jesus’ disposal. If he wants you to be sick in bed, if he wants you to proclaim His work in the street, if he wants you to clean the toilets all day, that’s all right, everything is all right. We must say, ‘I belong to you. You can do whatever you like.’ And this is our strength, and this is the joy of the Lord.” In other words, serving the Lord is not only by doing an active apostolate. Ultimately, serving the Lord is doing God’s will. A sick person who is bedridden still can serve the Lord if he offers his sufferings to God and for the salvation of souls. Saint Teresa of Calcutta used the word “disposal”. It beautifully describes the attitude of a true servant of the Lord: let Jesus do what He wants with us, and we just obey unconditionally and promptly.
Recite again the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.
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