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Saturday, 13 August 2016

Reflection/Homily: Twentieth (20th) Sunday in Ordinary Time - Year C

 Theme: Courage to Swim Against the Tide

We live in a world where there is a constant clash of opposites. There is always a battle between good and evil forces. In our lives, this battle is between the desire to do good and the desire to go evil. Every attempt we make today is geared towards making a choice as to which force we will incline to or which desire we will satisfy. Often, we discover that these evil forces and desires seem to be stronger and appear more attractive. It apparently seems better to defraud an unsuspecting rich man to become rich quicker than to keep struggling for genuine wealth.

Today, our world has been ravaged by relativism. Everybody does what one considers best for oneself irrespective of its moral objectivity. There is almost nothing objectively morally good or bad. In a world where situationism (a case where the situation of things determines the morality of an action) have taken the day, the Word of God in the first reading (Jer. 30:4-6, 8-10) invites us to be courageous in doing what ought to be done. It presents us with the example of Jeremiah who despite the terrifying situation of things remained courageous to proclaim the Word of God. Jeremiah preached what was completely against the popular needs of his time. He prophesied doom to the unrepentant city of Judah.

Zedekiah the king of Judah together with his people refused to obey the commands of the Lord and when they were threatened by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia, they became afraid. The Lord told Jeremiah to inform them that the Babylonians would attack and capture them. Jeremiah did this knowing fully well that it would cause him sorrow. He refused to be discouraged in condemning the people for their evil ways and even in prison went on prophesying in God’s name.

The Word of God calls us today to be courageous like Jeremiah to condemn the ills of our time and proclaim the Good News of salvation. You may be living in the midst of fornicators, idolaters, murderers, thieves, slanderers and those who commit all kinds of evil. God wants you to courageously condemn their evil ways and call them to repentance. This might stir up conflicts but do not be afraid no matter whose ox is gored. That is why Jesus says in the Gospel reading (Luke 12:49-53) that he has not come to bring peace but fire. The peace he is talking about is a pseudo-peace, a peace that exists only when the good refuse to condemn the bad.

Jesus is aware of what is going to happen when the righteous stand tall to condemn evil. This will bring about a revolution where evil doers will be opposed to the righteous and this could even happen in our families. Jesus wants us to bring about this type of revolution by not allowing ourselves to be intimidated by evil doers no matter the relationship existing between us. We have to be bold to call a spade a spade without mincing words. We have to swim against the current tide of relativism, materialism, consumerism and secularism.

Doing this is not going to be easy for us. We would experience some difficulties along the line. The type of courage being talked about today is not only the courage to swim against the tide but also to face the challenges from the tide, the courage to embrace suffering. Jeremiah was courageous enough even to face imprisonment in a well. We have to bear in mind that this suffering is not the purpose of swimming against the tide, it is only its consequence.

For this reason, the second reading (Heb. 12:1-4) exhorts us to be courageous after the example of Christ who endured the cross for our sake. He was not only courageous to condemn the ills of his time but also to accept death on a cross. Today, he is exalted at the right hand of God. Therefore, are you passing through difficulties for speaking in God’s name or swimming against the tide? Be courageous, do not lose faith for like Christ, one day you will be surely exalted at the right hand of God. God loves you.

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