Fr. Michael’s Homily for Sunday, July 8, 2018

14TH SUNDAY IN THE ORDINARY TIME YEAR 2

One day, St. Teresa of Avila, was on her way to one of her convents that was besieged, although she was sick, the journey was so expedient that she had to go in person. On the way she met a heavy downpour that made her horse dragged cart to fall into a pothole, she landed with her heard on the mud, the only thing she was able to mutter to the Lord spontaneously was: ‘IF THIS IS HOW YOU TREAT YOUR FRIENDS, NO WONDER YOU HAVE FEW.’ This statement is an interlocution between two hearts in love. The beloved talking to her lover. St Teresa was telling Jesus that the world and the worldly-minded people who are constantly in search of comfort may not swallow ungrudgingly, such seeming disappointment while following Him. Many, in the midst of difficulty, disappointment or persecutions, especially when they are working for the Lord would back out because they do not expect that such could befall them when they are working for the Lord.

Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to reflect with me on the THEME:

I COME TO SEEK OUT AND TO SAVE WHAT IS LOST (Lk.19:10)

The Lord is always solicitous in seeking out and saving what is lost no matter the cost. The soul of man is so precious and important to God that He could allow any calamity to befall man just to save his soul or the souls of others. In the scripture we see how He sent the evil spirits into the pigs and about two thousands of those pigs made their way into the river where they were all drowned just to save a single man (Mk. 5:13). In our daily struggles the Lord uses many methods to win us over to Himself and consequently save our souls. These methods may include: protracted illness, persecutions, natural disasters, failure in business, death of a dear one etc. He speaks to us in through such events and situations desiring we look up to Him for comfort or possibly, a cure.

In today’s first reading, we saw Him sending Ezekiel to His obstinate children to preach to them so that he may win them over to Himself and thereby save their souls. He knew that Ezekiel was not going to find it easy but the preciousness of those souls, for Him, worth the sacrifice. It is difficult to name any prophet from the scripture or any saint who was not persecuted and most of the times by those they were sent to save.  Some of these prophets were terribly persecuted, some exiled and the rest were killed, but God did not give up.  As a good and disciplined Father, the Lord often, if not always, chastises those whom He loves so as to make them strong enough to withstand and face the ordeals ahead. The ordeal is that we are not wrestling with flesh and blood but with principalities, powers and evil forces in the high places (Eph. 6:12), whose cunning, the Lord forewarned us in the scripture.

This was the case with St. Paul in the second reading who wanted to be puffed off because of his high level of knowledge and understanding of mysteries, but the Lord, determining to save him, had to send evil spirits to teach him a lesson of his life (flog him). He was brought to his knees and he had to plead with the Lord who told him that His grace was sufficient. Even His own Son was not spared from this universal persecution. In the gospel we saw Him suffering rejection, rejection from His own kin, this kind of persecution, I may say, is one of the worst forms of persecution to put up with. God allowed His only Son to suffer such rejection to set a living example to preachers after Him, so as to get themselves prepared ahead of time that even family members and close friends could constitute obstacle to their work of evangelization

As we said couple of weeks ago that being a witness is one of the most difficult commands that the Lord left us with. This is because witnessing involves total commitment and total surrendering of ourselves and our will and even our readiness to die for His sake. Another reasons is that the Lord Himself did not promise us that the road was going to be rosy and hitch free. On the contrary, in His mission to His disciples, He asked them to carry nothing and to be prepared for untold hardship and universal persecution. He predicted that they would experience universal hatred by both friends and foes, endure being beating publicly by the elders and scribes, what is more? That some will die in the process. He even told them that time was coming when those who kill them would be thinking that they were doing holy duties to God, (Jn. 16:2). He did not ask them to back out in the midst of such awful and dreadful persecution but that they should persevere since salvation awaits not those who started well but those who would persevere to the end.  A nut so difficult to crack often contain a precious pearl, gold or diamond, hence the master Himself said, very narrow and thorny is the road that leads to life and only few were fortunate to find it, but broad and spacious is the road that leads to damnation and many have chosen it (Mtt.7:14).

Every prophet, teacher and every saint walked through this narrow and thorny road. For anyone to enjoy in the evening, he must spend his day effectively working and toiling. He who works under the sun will eat under the shades.