DETAILED HOMILY FOR THE 14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: MISSIONARIES OF PEACE
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JULY 3 2022
R1 – Is 66:10-14
R2 – Gal 6:14-18
GOSPEL – Luke 10:1-12,17-20
Philip Neri was a saint who earned the title “Apostle of Rome.” It was said that after Rome had been sacked in 1527 by the Germans, the eternal city was left in physical and moral ruins. The Gospel wasn’t being preached. There were hopelessness and moral decadence. _Philip Neri,_ having read the letters that _St. Francis Xavier_ had sent back to Europe from India, where he had been converting tens of thousands, got attracted and sought to join him in India through the great Basque missionary, to give his life in proclaiming the Gospel. When he prayed and went to his spiritual director and told him what he thought God was asking of him, the wise old priest affirmed his desire to serve and bear witness to Christ. However, he told Philip to focus his attention on re-evangelizing those around him, declaring, “Rome is to be your India!” This was quite a task for one man. But Philip, relying on God’s help, started first as a layman, then as a priest to convert Rome, one person at a time. He would cheerfully go to street corners and say, “Friends, when are we going to start to do good?” Today, he is recognised as the “Apostle of Rome.”
Beloved in Christ, the same God who spoke to Philip Neri through his spiritual director saying, “Focus your attention on re-evangelizing those around you, for Rome is to be your India,” is equally speaking and challenging each one of us this morning through the Scriptures, “Your home and your family, your workplace, community and your parish are your mission field! Focus your attention on those around you and allow God to use you as an instrumental of peace and love.” This is because, the Mission of the 72 could be regarded as the Mission of the Laity, where everyone becomes a Missionary.
In the First Reading, Isaiah the Prophet sees many blessings in store for the people. They will know the joy of being God’s special people.
In the Second Reading, St Paul reminds us that each of us has been commissioned as a missionary with the mandate to bear witness to the saving power of the cross of Christ through a life of sacrificial, self-giving service.
While in today’s Gospel, Luke describes Jesus’ commissioning of 72 disciples to preach the Gospel or the good news of God’s love, and salvation in towns and villages in preparation for his own visit. Jesus gives the paired disciples “travel tips” for their missionary journey and the Inaugural Central Kerygma that hinges on PEACE.
Invariably, Christ’s invitation and commissioning of every Christian in today’s liturgy as Missionaries of Peace, remind us of how important and valued we are in the sight of God. It worths more to be a representative of Christ who wants to use us as instruments in bringing peace and hope unto the broken world.
_St Teresa of Avila_ rightly puts it:
“Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks with compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
*EVERY CHRISTIANS IS A MISSIONARY (OF PEACE)*
The Vatican II document says: “There are innumerable opportunities open to the laity for the exercise of their apostolate of making the gospel known and men holy. The very testimony of their Christian lives and good works done in a supernatural spirit have the power to draw men to belief and to God” ( _Apostolicam Actuositatem_ no. 6).
This shows that the thrust of preaching Christ is not a task for a selected few, rather a mandate for all Christians. Hitherto, we need to ask ourselves whether we have really actualised and accomplished this missionary mandate of evangelizing our families and homes, extending it to our environment @our relationships, communities, churches, work/business places and then to the whole world?
In a nutshell, _Fr. Joseph S. Benitez_ gives us a general survey or statistics that makes the words of Jesus in today’s gospel reading, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few…” compelling and motivating.
Today, the harvest consist of:
(i) Those people who have not yet heard of Christ. According to a statistical survey, that out of the six billion population of the world, 33% of these are Christians and 20% of these 33% are Catholics. Accordingly, 77% of the world population are non-Christians or uninfluenced by the gospel.
(ii) Those people who have heard of Christ but have no opportunity to know Him better.
(iii) Those people who have known and heard Christ, baptized and became Christians but they do not practice what they had learned and received. They relinquished the religion and became nominal and cafeteria Catholic Christians. Who are they? They are your neighbors, members of your own family, friends and many more.
Most importantly, the central and inaugural theme for the Mission of the 72 is Peace. Jesus gave the apostles the mandate to proclaim, declare and make peace their watch word, “Whatever house you enter, let your first words be, “Peace to this house!” And if a man of peace lives there, your peace will go and rest on him; if not, it will come back to you” (Luke 10:5-6).
Invariably, whenever and wherever we prioritise peace, we make the Mission of the 72 a reality in our lives. This is because, the presence of peace is the presence of Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:5).
(1) *WE MUST PRIORITISE PEACE*
The central _Kerygma_ for the mission of the 72 is PEACE. Therefore, every Christian should prioritise peace and seek to maintain it at all cost. The pairing of the disciples reminds us of the inevitability of mutual cooperation in our Christian life. The next person is important and must be tolerated in order to give peace a prime place.
Remember, because they prioritised peace, the enemy submitted and testimonies abound. When we give peace a prime place in our lives, homes, families, relationships, communities and churches, the enemy will submit and humongous miracles await us…
(2) *THE BEST GOSPEL IS PREACHED BY OUR LIVES*
_William J. Toms_ once said, “Be careful how you live. You may be the only Bible some person ever reads.”
So, the best way to effectively undertake the mission of the 72 is by witnessing with our lives. It is not everyone that has the privileged of the pulpit but we can turn our families, homes, communities, workplaces into a pulpit by becoming missionaries of peace. That is why, _Pope Paul_ VI, in the wrote:
“Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.” (_Evangelii Nuntiandi,_ no. 41).
Finally, there is a story of a chaplain who was serving on the battlefield. He came across a young man who was lying in a shell hole, seriously wounded. “Would you like me to read something from this book, the Bible?” he asked. “I’m so thirsty, I’d rather have a drink of water.” The soldier said. Hurrying away, the chaplain soon brought the water. Then the wounded man said, “Could you put something under my head?” The chaplain took off his overcoat, rolled it up and gently placed it under the man’s head for a pillow. “Now,” said the suffering man, “if I just had something over me -I’m cold.” The chaplain immediately removed his jacket and put it over the wounded man to keep him warm. Then the soldier looked the chaplain straight in the eye and said, “If there is anything in that book that makes a man do for another all that you have done for me, then please read it, because I’d love to hear it.”
Beloved, If our actions do not speak of Gospel values, be sure our words never will. What affects most people is often caught rather than taught. Indeed, we are the only book on Jesus Christ that others may ever read!
“LORD, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon,
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O DIVINE MASTER, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console:
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive –
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
(St. Francis of Assisi’s Vade Mecum as a Missionary of Peace, which every Missionary of Peace must learn off by heart and integrate into his/her practical life).
_FR GERALD MUOKA._