Homily (Reflection) for the Twenty-Fourth Sunday of the Year (B) (16th September, 2018) on the GospelIs 50:5-9;
Ps 114:1-6.8-9 (R. V. 9);
Little Tommy’s parents had tried everything to help him with his math grade: tutors, flash cards, ‘Hooked on Math’ special learning centres, everything. Finally, they enrolled him in the local Catholic school. The very first day, he came home with a very serious look on his face, went straight to his room, and started studying. His mother was amazed. Books and papers were spread out everywhere, and Little Tommy was hard at work. As soon as dinner was through, he marched right back up to his room without a word and studied more. This went on for weeks until Little Tommy proudly brought home his report card and showed it to his parents: And ‘A’ in Math!
“‘Tommy! This is great! I’m so proud of you! Son, what was it? What helped motivate you? Was it the nuns?’ his mother asked.
“Little Tommy shook his head.
“‘Well, then, was it the books? The discipline? The structure? The uniforms? What?’
“Little Tommy looked at her and said, ‘Well, Mom, it’s like this. When I saw that guy out in the lobby nailed to a plus sign, I knew they weren’t kidding around!’” Culled from Thomas, T. (2010). Spice up your homilies. Mumbai: ST PAULS, pp. 115-116.
Topic: Look Beyond the Present.
In the gospel according to Saint John, when Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother found his brother (Simon Peter) he said to him: “‘We have found the Messiah’ (which means Christ)” (Jn 1:41). And in the gospel according to Saint Matthew, Peter and his brother, Andrew “left their nets [their source of livelihood] and followed” Jesus (Matt 4:20; cf. Mk 1:18). At a point, Peter even put this question to Jesus: “Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” (Matt 19:27; cf. Mk 10:28; Lk 5:11). In the same vein, sons of Zebedee made this request: “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.... Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (Mk 10:35,37; cf. Matt 20:21). And “when the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John” (Mk 10:41) which is a serious indication that they all fixed their eyes on what they would get.
And in today’s gospel we read that after Peter’s declaration about Jesus, Jesus went on to teach His disciples what would come: “...the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mk 8:31). Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him, (cf. Mk 8:32) after all “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”.
We read further, “But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things” (Mk 8:33). And sad enough, many Christians today, both the laity and the clergy set their minds on human things instead of on divine things. Many have forgotten completely those important questions Jesus daily asks each and every one of us: “what will it profit you if you gain the whole world but forfeit your life? Or what will you give in return for your life”, cf. Matt 16:26? You can also personalize these questions in this or similar manner: ‘what will it profit me if I gain the whole world ....’ Hence,
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it (Mk 8:34-35).
Little Tommy’s grade in Mathematics changed for good because of his understanding of the image of Jesus Christ crucified on the cross. Similarly, unless we understand our call as Christians correctly, we will never cease seeing God as a political leader thereby looking forward to seeing only what we will get from Him here and now. This is because “... where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt 6:21; Lk 12:34). Our call goes beyond the present. We must therefore look beyond the present to be able to see “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Cor 2:9).
Bible Reading: Matt 16:24-27; 19:13-30; Lk 5:1-11; 1Cor 2:6-16.
Thought for today: How do you see God and your call to be His child?
Let us pray: Lord, help us to understand what it means to be your children – Amen (cf. 1Jn 3:1; 1Cor 2:14).
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