Homily (Reflection) for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday of the Year (B) (07th October, 2018) on the Gospel
Gen 2:18-24;Ps 127 (R. V. 5);
Mk 10:2-16 or Mk 10:2-12.
“A correspondent in South Africa was driving to work one morning when he saw a dove on the road just ahead of him. When it failed to fly away, he stopped and discovered that it was sitting besides the dead body of its mate. The driver explained that he picked up the bird, gently stroked it, and threw it into the air so that he could see it flying. But the bird circled and came back to its silent partner. The man repeated his action and finally carried the dove a long way down the road. But the bird still flew back to the same spot. That night when the reporter returned home, he was surprised to find two dead doves on the roadway. The bird that refused to be separated from its mate was run over by a car that put an end to its vigil. It had been faithful unto death” Culled from Sagayanathan, A. (2009). Launching Pad: Stories for Sunday Homilies, Year – A, B & C. Bangalore: Asian Trading Corporation, pp. 222-223.
Topic: Turn Obstacles into Opportunities.
The first verse of today’s gospel is explicit on why the Pharisees question Jesus, “to test him” (Mk 10:2) which could cause fear in the person it is directed. And going through the gospels, there are instances where others also embarked on the same mission. They include ‘the Pharisees and Sadducees’ (Matt 16:1); ‘a lawyer’ (Matt 22:35); ‘the Pharisees’ (Mk 8:11); the crowds (Lk 11:16); and lastly, when the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery they also tested Him (Jn 8:3-6). Even before His public ministry, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” after fasting for forty days and forty nights (Matt 4:1; cf. Mk 1:13; Lk 4:2).
I consider it very important for everyone to go through each of these cases individually to see how Jesus turned each of these situations into opportunities to teach. But on the other hand, we normally hear or even say ourselves each time we fall into one sin/misdeed or another that it is the handiwork of the devil or we blame others. A typical example is found in the book of Genesis:
...the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’ Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate’ (Gen 3:9-13).
Again, in the gospel according to Saint John the bible tells us how Jesus tested Philip, cf. Jn 6:6. And Philip’s answer seem to represent the opinion of the rest of the apostles should same or similar question be put them, cf. Matt 14:17; Mk 6:37; Lk 9:13.
We read further about our Lord Jesus, “... we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Heb 4:15). And “because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted” (Heb 2:18). We also read these words of Jesus: “I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33). Hence, in his first letter Saint John wrote, “Little children, you are of God, and have overcome them; for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1Jn 4:4). And in his first letter to the Corinthians Saint Paul wrote: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1Cor 10:13).
Life is God’s first and most priced gift to man. Hence many often perceived threats to life sweep off many feet. In our introductory story, we saw a dove was faithful to its partner to death. That partner in question did not give the dove its life. Yet it stood by it. We read in the first letter of Saint John, “In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins” (1Jn 4:10). Many turn their backs to this God who has done and is still doing so much for us. The story is not different in our relationships with others. But our problem is not just the devil and others we blame but our own desires, cf. Jas 1:14. We should remember that only those who stood to the end irrespective of how bad or good the situation will be saved, cf. Matt 10:22; 24:13; Mk 13:13. We must follow the example of the dove. Every situation whether good or bad is an opportunity to do God’s will.
Bible Reading: Gen 3:1-19; Heb 4:14–5:10; Jn 16:25-33.
Thought for today: When troubled what do you see – obstacles or opportunities?
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, you were tempted in every way and yet you did not sin. Help us to follow your example in every situation – Amen.
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