Catholic homily for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: Healing and restoration
By: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
Homily for Sunday June 27 2021
Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24
2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15
Death is the ultimate disaster to human existence. The grief it brings to the bereaved is often overwhelming. But the book of wisdom, our first reading today makes it clear to us that this great calamity is not of God’s making. As a matter of fact, our liturgy today presents us with a very clear picture of God’s loving creation and his concern for us all. At the very beginning it is clear he made us to be imperishable, as the Book of Wisdom affirms (cf. Wis. 1:13). Death was never God’s plan for us, and neither was its partner, suffering. For our God is God of the living and not the dead (cf. Matt. 22:32; Mk. 12:27; Lk. 20:38).
Both suffering and death entered the world because mankind, through the temptation of the devil, turned away from God. The consequences of this turning away are suffering and death. To understand this we need to remember that when we turned away from God we turned away from everything good – love, wholeness, innocence, light, life – and we found instead: fear, brokenness, guilt, darkness, suffering and death which have now become part and parcel of human existence and reality. A necessary transition for all living to enter into eternal life or eternal death- this eternal death becomes the greatest disaster that can happen to any soul. Eternal death of course is the portion of those who belong to the devil, through whose envy death entered the world.
In the two miracles in the gospel today, Jesus wanted to teach us that God is not amusing himself with our suffering rather that God has made us to be with him and that God will make that happen if we allow him. During our life here with the challenges and sufferings we have to endure, God is gradually transforming us and helping us to become the best people we can be, at least if we are open to it.
The teachings that Jesus left us with are the path which leads us through this gradual transformation, so that we become more like God all the time. He is saying, ‘If you want to be transformed inside, then live the way that I am showing you. Spend your life loving and serving the people around you. This is the gracious work to which St. Paul in today’s second reading is calling all of us. “… see that you excel in this gracious work also” (2Cor. 8:7). This is righteousness- living our life at the service of others who suffer and are dying. The book of Wisdom 1:15 makes us to understand that we if we really desire to save our soul from eternal death, we must be righteous. “For righteousness is immortal.”
It is not enough for us to strive towards holiness in order to save our souls from death, in fact, striving towards perfection and holiness entails striving to save others as well- both from physical and spiritual death. Hence, St Paul admonishes us not to be lacking in gracious work also. I know many of us would be wondering how it is possible to live our life for others when our own life troubles are quite difficult and too demanding for us. And we are tempted to think that living in service of others is a kind of life meant only for a few people. But that is not true. If it was not possible to live this way of life, then Jesus would not have given it to us.
In the gospel passage of today, in the two accounts of healing and restoration back to life, Jesus shows us the compassion of God our Father, who desires that his creatures should have and enjoy quality life. But due to the envy of the devil and the fall of humanity, suffering has become part of the reality of the human existence. Yet, God does not abandon us. He shares in our suffering by sending his only son to share our life, our suffering and dying for our sanctification and restoration back to life. God created us for life, to become beautiful, to become more and more like him, until we eventually leave this world and are united with him for always. That is our journey, but how we live it is up to us.
As Jesus went around doing good (cf. Acts 10:38), so also are we challenged today to go and give life to those who are suffering and dying – physically, emotionally and spiritually. In serving the suffering, the goal is to be encouraging, helpful, patient and kind, even though we have our own troubles to worry about. But many of us think it is just easier to simply avoid getting involved, but we should remember the words of scripture: “Weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice” (Rom. 12:15). God Himself, speaking of Israel in her suffering says “In all their affliction, I was afflicted” (Is. 63:9). And Jesus is spoken as of as a High Priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses (cf. Heb. 4:14-16).
Perhaps the most important thing we can do for anyone who is suffering is to pray for them, and when possible to pray with them. The strength we find in our own struggle with life troubles we must share with those in difficulties as well. Galatians 6:2 tells us, “Bear one another’s burden, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Many of us are just afraid to be kind, while some see kindness as weakness. For those who are afraid getting involved in other’s suffering, Christ is saying to us today, “Do not fear, only believe”
Beloved in Christ, the truth is that all of us are given endless opportunities to live the way Jesus taught us, because we are all the time surrounded by people who are suffering. And we always have the opportunity of giving hope to someone or put a smile on another’s face. How we respond to the opportunities of being like Jesus are shaping us and making us into better or worse people. The good thing is that even if we have made a mess of many of the choices we have been given, God keeps giving us plenty more, because God wants us to grow into the kind of people that He knows we can become.
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*