Homily for the Second Sunday of the Year (A) (15th January, 2017) on the GospelIs 49:3.5-6;
Ps 39:2.4.7-10 (R. vv.8.9)
1Cor 1: 1-3;
One day, a young man went to pay utility bills but could not be attended to immediately. As he waited for his turn, the cashier asked him: “Please, are you a seminarian?” And he said no. She continued to attend to other customers but after some time, she asked him another question: “Or are you in a mission school?” To this the young man also said no. She also asked him other questions but the young man did not admit being any of the things she thought he was. When the cashier had exhausted the possible places she thought he could have come from, she began to accuse him of lying to her. At this point, the young man asked her of the reason/s behind all her questions. She simply told him that after observing his behaviour from the time he arrived she was not in doubt he was from one of the places she mentioned. According to her, his behaviour contradicted what she observed every day. Just before leaving her office, he told her: “I am a seminarian. Although I did not want to hide my identity but I wanted to observe how things are done outside the four walls of the seminary. I am so sorry for the inconveniences. God bless you”.
Topic: “… this is the Son of God” (Jn 1:34).
In the gospel we read: “… Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me” (vv. 29-30). One can easily conclude that John was able to know Jesus and to testify because he was a prophet. But he went on to say in verse 31: “I myself did not know him ….” He repeated this very statement in verse 33 but something made him to know him: “… but the one who sent me to baptise with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptises with the Holy Spirit.’” (v.33). He never knew him but when he saw the signs he concluded “this is the Son of God” (v. 34). This testimony of Saint John the Baptist calls for a sober reflection.
We read in Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: “for in Christ Jesus you [Christians] are all sons of God, through faith” (Gal 3:26). Again, in his letter to the Romans we also read: “…all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom 8:14). We enter into Christ Jesus through the sacrament of Baptism because we are baptized into Jesus Christ, cf. Rom 6:3; Gal 3:27. Through the sacrament of Baptism the Holy Spirit comes and dwells in us, cf. Acts 2:38; 1Cor 3:16.
Hence, Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans reads: “But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him” (Rom 8:9). That is if the Holy Spirit is not in us, we cannot claim to be children of God. And there is no midway between being in the flesh and being in the Spirit because being in the Spirit excludes one from the flesh and vice versa. One must be either in the Spirit or in the flesh, cf. Gal 5:16-26.
Because it will be easy for one to say that he or she is in the Spirit and that the other person is in the flesh, let us consider briefly what it means to be in the Spirit and what it means to be in the flesh. In his letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul wrote:
...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another (Gal 5:22-26).
On the contrary, the fruits of the flesh include: “… fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these.” (Gal 5:19-21).
It is important to note that it is in the Holy Spirit that Christians are sealed for the day of redemption, cf. Eph 4:30. This is because those who are in the flesh cannot please God, Rom 8:8. Saint Paul advices us to “… walk by the Spirit, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16). It is “by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed” (Rom 2:5). According to the prophet Zephaniah, “A day of wrath is … a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zeph 1:15). Isaiah asks us to "Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near” (Is 55:6).
My dear brothers/sisters in the Lord, considering these and many more, it is left for each and every one of us to know whether he or she is in the Spirit or in the flesh. We are to be known by our fruits and not by what we put on or what we answer, cf. Matt 7:16, 20. If John the Baptist who did not know Jesus saw him and was able to recognise Him, then those who did not know us should be able to recognise us when they see us because of the same Holy Spirit in us. One must be spiritual to be able to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, cf. 1Cor 2:14.
Bible Readings: Zeph 1:14-18; 1Cor 4:1-12; Eph 5:3-20; Rom 8:1-17; 12:1-21; Col 3:1-4:1; Gal 5:16-26; Heb 2:1-4.
Thought for today: Can someone who did not know you testify on seeing you that you are a child of God (Christian)?
Let us Pray: Lord, give us the grace to be always your children we are called to be in thoughts, words and in actions – Amen!
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