Homily (Reflection) for the Twenty-Second Sunday of the Year, (C) (28th August, 2016) on the Gospel
Sir 3:17-20.28-29;Ps 67:4-7.10-11. (R. cf. v.11);
Topic: Motive behind generosity.
Few weeks ago, I attended a wedding well attended by the cream of the society. Many judged it as one of the best in the recent past because of the calibre of people that graced the occasion. Similarly, in the Jewish culture “four categories of people could be invited to a meal, friends, relatives, brothers, and other rich people”. Yet Jesus charged us, “... when you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or relations or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid”. Jesus advised that “the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind” whom even the bible excludes from coming near the Lord should make the list, cf. Lev 21:18. Their only qualification is that “they cannot repay;” meaning that they do not constitute any obstacle to eternal reward, cf. Lk 6:35.
After reading today’s gospel a good number of times, one of the questions that came to my mind is how would that wedding ceremony have been judged if it was not attended by the people I have described earlier but by the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind? This sounds funny?
However, it is a caution for us to remember always that “our citizenship is in heaven” (Phil 3:20) where “the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth … (Is 25:8; cf. Rev 7:17; 21:4). As a result, no one should work just for earthly rewards lest he/she looses the main reward from God, cf. Matt 6:2, 5, 16. This can be likened to Jesus’ warning in Saint John’s gospel, “Do not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (Jn 6:27).
It is in acting contrary to the ways of the world that guarantees that one “will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous”. Rhetorically, Jesus asked, “What gain ... is it for anyone to win the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mk 8:36, TNJB), cf. Matt 16:26; Lk 9:25. Christians are to act like Christ (Jn 13:12-15) which is contrary to the world’s cf. Matt 20:25-26. If one prefers to be rewarded in the world to come he or she must work towards that. In summary “Jesus says we should help those who cannot repay us or give us anything in return, so that we may receive our reward in heaven”.
Barclay pointed out four different motives that are normally behind every generosity – sense of duty, self-interest, feeling of superior, and lastly because one cannot help it. It is this last one that Jesus wants us to have. Christians are to be generous out of love of God and their neighbours. We should always remember that all our deeds – good ones as well as evil ones follow us wherever we go, cf. Rev 14:13, Matt 25:34-36, 41-43.
Bible Reading: Matt 6:1-21. 19:16-30; 1Pt 1:3-12; Rev 21:1-8.
Thought for today: Look underneath your actions.
Let us pray: Lord God, help me to work not for this present life but for the world to come – Amen.
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