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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Reflection/Homily: Seventh (7th) Sunday in Ordinary Time of the Year A (23rd February 2014)

Reflection/Homily: Seventh (7th) Sunday in Ordinary Time of the Year A (23rd February 2014)
Theme: Being like the Father

In human families, we often discover that children bear in themselves visible features of their parents. It is usually possible to identify a child because you are familiar with the father's countenance. So it should also be in spiritual families. We are supposed to bear some features of God our father in us. That is why the first reading (Lev. 19:1-2, 17-18) invites us to be holy as our heavenly Father is. The call to holiness is a universal call to all sons and daughters of God irrespective of creed, colour, nationality, occupation or state of life. There are two paths to holiness of life: the positive path and the negative path. The positive path consists in doing those things expected of us as children of God and the negative path consists in avoiding those things we are not expected to do.

We have to love our neighbours as we love ourselves and we should not hate anyone or try to revenge the evil done to us. Jesus portrays this teaching better in the gospel reading (Mt. 5:38-48) by asking us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. By asking us to turn the other cheek when we are slapped, Jesus was not inviting us to willfully expose ourselves to harm. He was simply encouraging us to take the path of peace which our aggressors would not expect. Holiness thus, becomes our daily strive and we remain in the process of becoming until we are crowned with the unfading crown of glory on the last day. 

Beloved friends, why can't we begin this journey towards holiness today? Holiness includes being at peace with oneself, with others and with God. What are you still waiting for to forgive that guy who has wronged you or that lady who has disappointed you. It is time to forgive that neighbour you have branded an enemy. Forgiveness demands a change of attitude towards the forgiven, from the attitude of hatred to the attitude of love. Forgiveness is not just a promise, it is an attitude we live out in our daily life. It is a step towards loving the other. The fruit of forgiveness is peace and the moment we try to maintain peace only then can we claim to be authentic Christians.

To be authentically holy, we must also be authentically human. Being human means recognizing our weaknesses and limitations but being holy means striving to overcome those weaknesses and limitations. Our humanity makes us prone to anger and revenge but our call to holiness gives us an edge over them. Thus, the path of nonviolence remains a sure path to authentic holiness. How violent or aggressive are you when you react to issues and persons? Are you violent or aggressive to the extent that you do serious damage to other people? Do not forget that the second reading (1 Cor.3:16-23) assures us that we are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit abides within us. What this implies is that we have to make ourselves worthy of the Spirit of God to abide in us. To do this, we have to eschew all forms of pride, hatred, dichotomy, envy and in fact all evil desires, attitudes and actions. We also have to recognize the Spirit of God abiding in others so that we do not cause them to sin.

To be holy, we must depend totally on the grace of God because holiness is not just the effect of human effort. It is the effect of the collaboration between human efforts and divine grace. Without God’s grace, we cannot be holy. In fact, it is God who instills in us, the desire to be holy and the energy to work towards it. To sustain this grace, we have to be in constant union with God in prayers. We also have to run away from all the occasions that might endanger our desire for holiness. Let us therefore ask God for the grace to truly work towards holiness, to truly love as we ought to, to always resort to nonviolence when we think we have been tempted beyond our control and to truly be like our heavenly father in all things. May the Blessed Virgin Mary the queen of peace assist us with her powerful intercession. Happy Sunday. God loves you.

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