Homily for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: MISSIONARIES OF PEACE
By: Fr. Gerald Musa
Homily for Sunday, July 7 2019
We live in a world full of troubles and in the midst of these troubles we yearn for peace and we want to maintain peace in our hearts, in our families and communities. An African proverb says if you must maintain peace in your community, you must “Never Break the Pot That Keeps You Together.” When the people of Israel went into exiles, the many structures that held them together were broken. These structures include common leadership and common worship. The prophet Isaiah spoke to the people when they were returning from Babylonian exile. He envisioned a new world order where peace would reign supreme. He prophesied about a time when God would send prosperity and peace to Israel. He offered them hope as they returned to Jerusalem. He assured them God would express his motherly love to them as he consoles them and dandles them on the lap.
We live in a world where people are troubled by so many challenges – conflicts, wars, divisions, restlessness, animosity, hostility and bitterness. Many people have lost peace because they have been displaced from their homelands; some others cannot find peace because they are worried about so many things – health issues, financial security and so on. Thus, Jesus sees the need to send missionaries to proclaim peace to troubled hearts. He made them understand that to be missionaries of peace in a wild world is to be like lambs among wolves and they would either be accepted or rejected. These missionaries of peace were instructed to declare peace to whichever house they entered, saying ‘Peace to this house.’ If people in a house welcomed peace, there would be peace and if they rejected peace and the messengers of peace, peace would elude them.
Furthermore, Jesus gave them a tip for success: in order to be successful missionaries of peace, they needed to be detached from the things of the world, to travel light and not be distracted by material possessions. Their mission was so urgent and time was too short to waste on frivolities and on exchanging pleasantries. They were given extra powers to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome the power of the enemy waiting to destroy them. The messengers of peace returned to Jesus rejoicing that the all demonic powers and authorities were subject to them because of the name of Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Do not rejoice in this that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. He wanted them to know that their most important joy was not dependent on the frenzy of performing miracles, but in the fact that they were counted among those who are saved.
We are also called to be missionaries of peace, but we cannot be proclaimers of peace, if we do not have peace within us. The famous Latin proverb says you cannot give what you do not have (Nemo dat, non quod habet). In his great literary work, Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri, tells us the best way to experience peace is in doing the will of God, who is the source of peace. In the original Italian version of the book Dante says, “E ‘n la sua volontade è nostra pace” which is translated in English as “And in His will is our peace” (Canto III, line 85). This is to say that it is only in doing the will of God that we can obtain peace in our hearts, peace in our families and communities.
Since peace can be found only in doing the will of God, the Apostle Paul, a messenger of peace prayed for peace and mercy upon Israel and upon all who walk by the rule of God (Galatians 6:16). For Paul, the Christian life is becoming like Christ who is the prince of peace. A Chinese proverb says, “If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character. If there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world.”
How do we hold tenaciously to the peace that God has given us? To have peace, we need to relate to Jesus who is the source and prince of peace. We are called to be peacemakers and so peacemaking is our vocation. We know also that we cannot sue for peace without advocating justice, because without justice there cannot be peace. Martin Luther King Junior calls on those seeking for justice to remember, “It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people.”
As missionaries of peace, we can always pray the famous prayers of St. Francis of Assisi:
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; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
14th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Isaiah 66:10-14c; Galatians 6:14-18; Luke 10:1-12, 17-20