Homily for 29th Sunday in ordinary Time Be Content but not Complacent

Posted 8 hours ago
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Dearly Beloved, Looking back to about eight years ago, I just can’t stop laughing at myself. For the first time in my life I was about to board an airplane. I was making a trip to Lagos in Nigeria. I met a parishioner at the airport who was also traveling to Nigeria. Through our conversation I got to know that he was traveling on first class. Before I could leave to check-in he was called by one of the airline officials to board and as it were, we said goodbye. Upon entering the aircraft, looking for my seat, I gaze on him sitting in one of the front seats. Suddenly it occurred to me that I may be on the wrong aircraft. So I went back and confirmed with official. And can you imagine what my problem was? I had no idea of what “first class” was about. I grew up only hearing people say “I am travelling in/with first class. Little did I know that it was the same aircraft. After all who cares about where you sit so far as you reach your destination. There are some who will say, wait till you get the opportunity to sit there and then you can judge whether it matters or not. Dearly beloved, today’s gospel passage follows from that of last weekend. The last paragraph reads 28 Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news,[f] 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” James and John act smart on the promise of the Lord and ask for specific places to be seated in the kingdom. "Grant that in your glory we may sit one at your right and the other at your left." Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you are asking.” These two bothers wanted to be ahead of their fellow apostles to places of prominence in the next life. The promise of eternal life was not so much appealing to them. If they are giving up so much in this life, then they wanted something really big in exchange, being in the kingdom was not enough, but where they will sit, the power and authority that they will wield. Human as we are, our lives are equally characterized by expectations and rewards from what we do for the Lord. It’s not as if being expectant is wrong. No. However, the problem is being definite with our expectations without giving room to any possible alternative. I know there are some who care so much about where they sit in the aircraft. Seat them at any other place and you ruin their whole travel experience. Do you have a preferred seat when flying? What happens when you do not get it? Friends when you live each day being obsessed with a life you do not have, you dispose yourselves to disappointments and misery. Such attitude blinds us and prevents us from looking at any other alternative, especially when that is what God chooses for us. The two words that I can use to illustrate further this point are content and complacent. Be content, in that, learn to live happily with what you have in the current situation you find yourself. On the other hand, do not be complacent. In that, do not recline and withdraw in telling yourself that’s all there can be. Nothing can change. Especially when it’s not the best of situations you wish for yourself, work hard through prayer and faith, hoping that God, whatever the situation is, will change it to be better. Why should you be content but not complacent? “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.” That’s from the second reading. In other words, Jesus, your high priest, understands your predicament, your pain, suffering, hurt, disappointment, loss, just name it. It’s not so much that he’s God but much so that he’s been there. Whatever is going on with you, he’s faced that too and knows how it feels. He can empathize with your situation. Not only that, he is willing and able to help. You may be going through a lot that I do not know, and rightly so because I’m human like all of you. But yet he knows and understands perfectly. He’s heard your prayers and has provided an alternative. You may not have seen it because that’s not what you are expecting. Like James and John you seek something specific, anything else you do not want to have anything to do with it. Then he speaks to you again, children of the kingdom, do not lord their needs over others as the worldly people do. They rather trust and accept what the Lord gives them even though that’s not what they want. They accept the position of the slave who has claim to nothing, but receives everything with gratitude regardless of how much they have worked towards it. They therefore live in the light and promise of the master. It’s all about how much they trust the master not to deceive them but give them what is in their best interest. Dearly Beloved, Whatever issues going on in your life and those around you may not be the best you had expected, but it could have been worse. Be open to whatever alternative God is providing for you. Be content; however, do not be complacent but rather work hard with faith and hope that all shall be well.