HOMILY: 22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME 2020
There was a Pastor who was sent to conduct a leaders’ workshop for the underground church in china. The participants travelled for 12 long hours just to be present. The session took 8 long hours, just seating on a hardwood floor in a room without air-conditioned. Some of them were put behind bars because they were caught doing bible study but have memorized some chapters in the bible. How did they possibly do it? In prison, we have pleasure of time to memorize them. Some of our friends were cunning enough that they secretly brought us bible chapters written down on papers. We have to quickly memorize them by heart and throw them away so that we will not get caught. How can I pray for you? When you gather like this, please pray for us to be like you. He said, I will not do that. You know why? In my country, if people will drive more than an hour they might not come; if a priest delivers a 30 minute homily, they were uneasy in the pews, but here you are who travelled for 12 hours and you are very much alive and attentive all the way for 8 hours. In my country, we have a plenty of bibles lying in every corner of the church and perhaps some have it at home but they don’t read it. Here you are, it is a crime to possess a bible but you have memorized it by heart. I will not pray that you will be like us; I will pray that we may be like you!
We are now on the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time and our theme for today is all about sacrifice. It is an act of giving up something that you want to keep especially as an offering to please God and to help someone. Sacrifice is a gift from God. Jeremiah claimed “you have enticed me and overpowered me” for the word of the Lord became my reproach and derision all day long. He was persecuted at the expense of God’s word but he did not blame God for his misfortunes in life. He is ever ready to take sacrifice whatever it takes. He saw sacrifice and violence in his life as blessings from God. He is happy to suffer for God.
Sacrifice brings us closer to God. Jesus in the gospel rebuked Peter when he wanted to spare Him from suffering. Get behind from me Satan. If we can no longer see the value of suffering and discomfort, we are very prone to the temptation of Satan. This is the reason why we have to embrace wholeheartedly whatever sacrifice is destined for us. Abstinence is not eating our favourite food and fasting which is skipping one meal a day because they bring us closer to God. It is in my weaknesses that the power of God became strong. For Jesus, sacrifice and suffering are paths that lead to intimacy with God.
Sacrifice means loving our neighbours. Saint Paul says “we have to present our bodies as living sacrifice- doing what is good, acceptable and perfect”. Our relationship with our neighbours is governed by charity. Sacrifice is the food of love. Without sacrifice, there will be no true love. Real giving is experiencing pain. Do not give your surplus to your neighbours because it is nothing to you. Do not give coins to the church because they are good for a tip that is why we say keep the change. Give something that will hurt you. This is sacrifice, it is love.