Catholic homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: The Retired Bishop
By: Rev. Fr. Anthony O. EZEAPUTA, MA.
Homily for Sunday August 1 2021
You can’t help but be enchanted as some people recount their spiritual journeys to Jesus Christ. How they came to embrace the faith, become Catholics, and embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure. Apart from that, I’ve always been intrigued by the reasons why some cradle Catholics have remained faithful to Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church over the years. Each time, they are asked “Why the Catholic Church?” their responses never cease to astound me.
“Why should I settle for an imitation when the original is available—especially when it comes to the truths necessary for salvation?” said a recent convert. “This is the true church,” “I love the Catholic tradition,” “I love the fact that I can receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist,” “The Catholic Church is never influenced by popular opinion,” and so forth. Interestingly, those who return to the Catholic Church have nearly the same reasons.
In the mid-’90s, a local Catholic school was renamed in honor of their retired bishop, as part of the silver jubilee of his episcopal ordination. Students from this school submitted some questions to learn more about the retired bishop whose name their school now bears. Among the questions was, “How did you become a Christian and a Catholic?” The retired bishop told the audience, “Because of death and poverty, I became both a Christian and a Catholic.”
According to the retired bishop, his parents were not religious. He was raised as an agnostic in part. Things changed, however, when his father was killed by a drunk driver and his mother, a devoted housewife, was unable to care for him and his two other siblings. Fortunately for them, a Catholic neighbor informed their mother of a job opening at the nearest Catholic Church and even agreed to put in some words on her behalf if she expressed interest.
She agreed to apply for the job after some hesitation and was hired. She braced herself for the possibility of hostility and condemnation from her friends and family. On the contrary, she noted how pleased they were with her. And, as a result of the priest’s and coworkers’ warm welcome, she decided to become a Catholic with her children. To summarize a lengthy story, they were all baptized, received their first holy communion, and received confirmation on the same Easter vigil.
Today’s Gospel (John 6:24-35) passage is Jesus’ dialogue with the crowd who said, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs, but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” This exchange serves as a reminder that we are all drawn to Jesus and his Church for a variety of reasons. Nonetheless, what matters is the purification of motivations to be able to follow Jesus and his Church for the correct reasons, which can be summed up into four ends. And it is for these ends that every Holy Mass is offered too. They are adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication.
Adoration: We follow Jesus Christ to worship and adore him. He is God-made-man who redeemed and saved us. And the only true gift we can give to the Father is the adoration of His Son in the Holy Spirit.
Contrition: We follow Jesus because we see how far short our lives fall when we compare them to his. As a result, we come to him with a broken heart, pleading for his forgiveness and mercy.
Thanksgiving: We follow Jesus Christ because he has given us the opportunity to participate in God’s Divine Life, which was lost due to Adam and Eve’s sin, to be perfected by his grace, and to be happy with God forever in Heaven. We are grateful disciples.
Supplication: We follow Jesus because he genuinely loves us and desires to provide us with everything we need, both temporal and spiritual. We beg Him for the graces needed to become saints, and we pray for those who, both living and deceased, are in the greatest need of His mercy.
As with the retired bishop who was attracted to Jesus by death and poverty but stayed in the Church for the right reasons, eventually becoming a bishop, let us pray to God for the graces necessary to purify our motivations for following him and to remain in the Church for the right reasons. We implore Our Lady of Perpetual Help to intercede on our behalf. Amen!
Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
August 1st, 2021.