Catholic homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: Embrace the vulnerable
By: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
Homily for Sunday September 19 2021
James 3:16- 4:3
Jesus, in today’s Gospel, gives us a glimpse of the path proposed by the first and second readings—namely, loving him in others by embracing the vulnerable in our midst: the defenseless children, the despairing poor, the terrified, the mentally ill, the marginalized, the disabled, the refugees of war. Jesus also teaches his apostles that child-like humility and loving, selfless service make one great in the eyes of God.
Beloved in Christ every human being feels deep down—even if not consciously—that he or she is very important. As Christians, we should call to mind often that we are children of God and that is far more important than any human status in any time or place. So today’s readings invite us to become great in the sight of God by doing God’s will, as Jesus did, surrendering our lives in the service of others.
So my reflection today is summarized in this brief piece about Mother Teresa.
At the screening of the film Mother Teresa during the celebration of the fortieth anniversary of the United Nations in 1983, the Secretary General, Javier Perez de Cuellar, rose from his seat to introduce Mother Teresa to an elite gathering of the representatives of all member countries of the U.N. He needed only one sentence for his introduction: “I present to you the most powerful woman in the world!” Most powerful woman in the world?! Yes! Hers was the power of humble, sacrificial, Christian service and agape love!
On March 3, 1976, conferring on Mother Teresa the highest honor of India’s Vishwa Bharati University, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, who was at that time Prime Minister of India, said: “I feel myself dwarfed when I stand before this holy and mighty woman who heroically showed the world how to practice Christian love in sacrificial and humble service.” For many years, the world watched, admired and honoured this weak and elderly nun, always dressed in a blue-bordered white sari, as the incarnation of humble and sacrificing Christian service.
She was the living proof of Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel that real greatness lies in serving others. She served all with love and compassion. From 1962 onwards, she received national and international awards in recognition of her greatness, attained through the humble service done to the “poorest of the poor.” On Sept. 5, 1997, the day of the death of this holy woman who lived with us, practicing what Jesus commanded his apostles in today’s Gospel, Pope John Paul II said: “Mother Teresa marked the history of our century with courage. She served all human beings by promoting their dignity and respect, making them feel the tenderness of God.”
Beloved in Christ, we are called to live our life in humble service of one another and desist from Jealousy and selfish ambition which lead to unhealthy competitions, resulting in all sorts of vile practices. We are called to be just even though the world would treat us harshly.
The reason why the world would treat us harshly is because the world is wicked and we are told in the first reading of today that, the wicked hate the just man because he reminds them that their way of life is in violation of God’s way. The just man does not even have to speak: his very way of life is enough irritation and a reproach to them. They don’t even stop to ask if they are wrong and he is right, and so, if they should change. Their perverse logic is, let us see if this man really is God’s son by subjecting him to the most difficult test: revilement, torture, and a shameful death. Maybe this was the way Judas thought when he betrayed Christ. Maybe Judas thought his ploy might force Jesus to reveal he was the Messiah or even force God the Father to dramatically rescue Christ.
To be able to live our life in humble service of one another, Jesus gave us the example of children to emulate. The quality children have that Jesus was recommending to us all was – simply put – simplicity: being free from the calculating motives that are at work in so many adult relationships and accepting the subordination and “smallness” inherent in childhood.
Jesus was not suggesting that some should be willing servants while others take advantage of them. What Jesus is teaching us is that in the Christian community every member should act as the servant of everyone else, so that the power motives, and relationships of superiority and inferiority, are abolished altogether.
In the face of hatred and maltreatment from the society, despite our strive towards goodness and righteousness; we should not be discouraged to carry on still, in doing good and serving others. We should make the prayer of the psalm of today our own.
Let me conclude with this prayer that Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta wrote for her sisters, and really for us, to help us understand what really we need to be concerned with in life:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred. Forgive them anyway!
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway!
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway!
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway!
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway!
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway!
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway!
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway!
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway!
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*