Fr. Ruben’s Homily for Sunday, July 22, 2018

Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 107

Fr. Ruben Villalon-Rivera

Reading 1: Jer. 23:1-6

Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6

Reading 2: Eph. 2:13-18

Alleluia: Jn. 10:27

Gospel: Mk. 6:30-34

When I was a kid I remember that my father used to tell me to do something, but for some reason I didn’t do it his way, the way he like things to be done. My answer was then, do it yourself, and don’t bother me. Many times we want people to do something and we want them to do it our way. Well in the first reading we heard how God complains about his shepherds, the people who supposed to lead the flock into good example and good relationship with him. But they (we) are not, therefore, God sent the true shepherd, his only begotten Son to lead his people to good and abundant pastures because people were living a lost life.

Now there is no more people misleading the flock because the shepherd is God himself. We may discover a problem by following the whistles of this shepherd. We may think that we cannot live according to his expectations and decrees, we often feel very little, and we sometimes continue to feel lost, as without a shepherd. We still believe in Christ but we believe in him according to our own expectations and limitations and many times we fail to open our hearts and minds to his call. Therefore, we need to ask ourselves two important questions for today’s readings. What is faith accompanied by reason and what is faith as hermeneutics?

What is faith?

“Faith is the substance of things to be hoped for, the evidence of things that appear not” (Hebrews 11:1). Faith is an action of the intellect that is a habit motivated by love to know God in this life.

What is reason?

Reason is the method of thinking in an organized and clear way to get to a better understanding of things.

Why do I mention faith and reason? Because we are always moved by faith and reason to accept a revealed truth from God, who is the one who reveals his plan for our salvation.[1]  With that in mind we know and understand the plan of God, who sends us his only begotten Son to be our true shepherd. But we need to approach the readings with another intellectual tool if you will:

It is called hermeneutics and why is it important? Because hermeneutics is the art of interpretation, it’s using the reason to make many questions as we read, what does this mean? Why does this matter? Because God does not lie, God does not deceive us, but rather he guides us back to himself. Therefore, a true shepherd is the one who points to a bigger reality than him, not to himself.

The human person is the only rational being in this world to know what is good and the will to choose the good, we remember, we store good and bad events in our memories. Our faith is rooted and built in the past generations and today we are beneficiaries of it.

The believer is a person of memory. We need to remember, always remember what God has done personally for us. We need to remember that the Christian faith did not begin with us, it goes back many centuries. We need to remember all the wonders God has done, his people were walking discouraged, sad, without horizons of hope. The Father sends us the true shepherd to walk with us, to point the way, the truth and the life back to the Father. If you see one of your children in need, would you as a parent abandoned him or her? I think not. We are in constant need of care, emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual.

We heard in the Gospel how people followed Jesus because they had a need. They had a need of satisfying their hungry bodies, souls, hearts, and minds with the food that came down from heaven. Jesus feed them with bread for their body, with his word for their soul, mind and heart, with his miracles also for their bodies and souls. That is why the believer is a person of memory. Remember the great gift that God has given us in his Son Jesus Christ, who has passed through this world doing good, as a true doctor of bodies and souls. This simple exercise of memory (reason) and faith helps us to remain in him.

What is faith as hermeneutics? It is the art of interpretation, is using the reason to make many questions as we read, what does this means? Why does this matter? Whether we like it or not, the life of the believer is also interpreted by his faith and actions. We could say: tell me who you believe in, what you believe, and I will tell you who you are, how you live. Therefore, as we tell the rest of the world that we believe in Christ, people will interpret the way we live our social life, that is to say, the way we think, love, work, act and believe. All of that has to be enlightened by Christ so that people who see us may see Christ acting in us. Then we will resemble the shepherd as well.

When our faith in Christ is not individual, but is part of a group, then it ends in a deep Christian culture: faith permeates all sectors of community and social life. We all have a great challenge as Christians; we need to face a society that calls itself post-Christian, where the environment is to live the opposite of Christs’ Gospel. The historical mission of Christians was and is now to make those roots of the Gospel flourish. So that the good smell of Christ the good shepherd will expand again in our society so much in need of guidance, truth, love, chastity, ascetics, faith, and so on.

We need to allow the good Shepherd to guide us all and at the same time, people will question our credibility just as we question and interpret the scriptures. We need to use in its fullness faith, reason, hermeneutics and any tool that would help us to grow in our relationship with Christ.

[1] Cfr. CCC # 156