Homily for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary time Year B

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Homily for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary time Year B

 

The Jews murmured about Jesus because he said,
"I am the bread that came down from heaven, "
and they said,
"Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? 
Do we not know his father and mother? 
Then how can he say,
'I have come down from heaven'?" 
Jesus answered and said to them,
"Stop murmuring among yourselves.

 

Dearly beloved, on one hand were the Jews with an attitude of complaining. On the other hand was Jesus’ initial reaction towards them “stop complaining among yourselves. We fail to live a happy life when all we do is complain. If only we can turn even the mess around us into gratitude, we will be happy people. Positive attitude gives meaning to all the things around us. Permit me to share this excerpt of prayer I came across online with you, a prayer of a busy mom.

Lord, thank you for this sink of dirty dishes, this means we have plenty of food to eat.

Thank you for this pile of dirty laundry, because we have plenty of nice clothes to wear.

And I would like to thank you, Lord, for those unmade beds. They were so warm and so comfortable last night. I know that many have no bed.

My thanks to you, Lord, for this bathroom, complete with all the splattered mirrors, soggy towels and dirty lavatory. They are so convenient and served us so well.

Thank you for this finger-smudged refrigerator that needs defrosting so badly, it has served us faithfully for many years. It is full of enough leftovers for a few meals.

Thank you, Lord, for this oven that absolutely must be cleaned today. It has baked so many things over the years.

Lord, the presence of all these chores awaiting me says you have richly blessed my family. I shall do them all cheerfully and I shall do them gratefully. (Author Unknown)

Dearly Beloved, for about three successive weekends we have been reading from chapter 4 of this letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians. Paul from this chapter begins to challenge us on the new attitude we have to demonstrate. He began chapter 4 with a call to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called” (Eph. 4:1). Then last week from 4:17, Paul admonished us not to live as the world does. That is, we should set ourselves as different from the popular culture around us. He pictured this as a three step process: put off the old self which is corrupted by our deceitful desires, be renewed in our minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Dearly beloved, permit me to begin five (5) verses earlier from our passage today which is taken from 4:30-5:2. That is when he begins to talk in practical terms what it means to “put off the old self” and “put on the new self.” Paul sets this up with a set of contrasts. He speaks of what we must not do but then goes on to put forward what we need to do instead. What is most important in the argument Paul puts forward is that this is not simply a change of behavior that the individual must work himself or herself out to accomplish or bring about. Rather, this change comes by the renewing of the mind which is the work of the Holy Spirit working and acting in the individual.

The first behavior in verse 25 is to put off all falsehood and in place speak truthfully. You live in a world full of deception. But you cannot be anything like the world.

Then in verse 26,27 “In your anger do not sin. Anger in itself is not sinful but rather a recipe for unimaginable and heinous actions if not checked. Never go to bed angry. Kill your anger before it kills you while you sleep.

In verse 28 he contrasts how this renewal by Christ should enable a person who steals from others will begin to work hard and rather start giving to others.  There is more joy in giving than taking from others.

In verse 29’’ the person who puts on Christ is guided in his/her choice of words. No foul language but words that encourage and build up others. It is always from the abundance of the heart that comes forth from our mouths.

Verse 30 “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” By indicative, the Holy Spirit is indeed a person. Only persons have feelings and therefore can be hurt. We saw this truth in Ephesians 1:13-14. Our identity is that we are heirs of God and sealed with the Holy Spirit. How sad when you so much believe in someone who turns out to have a very low self-esteem. When we feel powerless amidst the grace that God gives us, we grieve the Holy Spirit. He has resources enough for us to win the battle against fear and sin. Be convinced and know of that one working and acting in you. He is indeed greater that anything you are facing and you will face in your entire life.

Paul continues in verse 31,32 with sweeping changes of our character when we are clothed in this new life. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. Understand this, no human deserves your wrath. You set yourself up as a “god”, as if your way must never be violated. Be reminded, you are human, be humbled.

 

Then from 5:1-2 which happens to be the last paragraph of our reading today “So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.”

Dearly beloved, the stakes are high now. How possible to imitate God? How possible to live as Christ did? On what basis can Paul urge us to be imitators of and live in love as Christ did. “Because of His Spirit living in you”. Over and over again, you see how the standard for our Christian living is that which is set and enabled by the Trinity. It is unfortunate, however, never be discouraged in your faith by a church leader who fails to live up to expectation. Your imitator is God.

Above all, understand that this journey of faith will always call for some amount of sacrifice. For Christ, it cost his life. What is your love for God requiring you to sacrifice? Beloved, I will be quick to add that this is not an instant transformation but rather a gradual and a lifelong one. So never be discouraged of your inadequacies and limitations, but rather be patient and allow God to work the renewal in you.