Homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: Moses says to the people: “If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God, and keep his commandments and statutes that are written in this book of the law, when you return to the LORD, your God, with all your heart and all your soul.”
By: Fr. John Paul Shea
Homily for Sunday July 14 2019
In today’s first reading from Deuteronomy (30: 10-14) we are reminded of the need to adhere to the Word of God.
Today’s reading comes when the Israelites are preparing to enter into the Promised Land that God had promised to Abraham. God had called the Israelites as the first fruit of salvation history to prepare the world for the coming of His Kingdom on earth. God saved the Israelites from the Egyptians so they could begin to witness God’s power and Grace to all the nations of the world. God gave the Israelites laws to follow, and God specifically warned the Israelites that if they were to flourish that they must uphold God’s laws and not follow the idolatries of the surrounding nations. For God had set His people apart to be holy.
If we know the scriptures then we know what happens after the Israelites cross Jordon and enter the Promised Land. Time and time again the Israelites fail to follow God’s laws. They instead intermingle with the surrounding nations, follow their false gods, and the Israelites pay for their disobedience to God through punishment of wars, disasters, and invasions.
Yet, God did not turn from His Promise to the Israelites. So, when the time came, God sent His Son into our world who is the fulfillment of God’s revelation and who will come again to establish God’s Kingdom on earth for the humble and the pure of heart.
We hear of this Kingdom in today’s Second Reading from Saint Paul’s letter to the Colossians (1: 15-20). Saint Paul teaches us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He was before all things and is the firstborn of all creation. “In him all the fullness was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile all things for him, making peace by the blood of his cross through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.”
As Christians, our Lord Jesus Christ expects us to follow God’s Word with no exceptions. Our Lord has not come to abolish the law and the prophets but has come to fulfill them through His death on the cross. In fact, our Lord has raised the bar on the teachings of the law. Our Lord preaches not only against committing the physical act of adultery, but He teaches us that if we even look at another with lust then we commit adultery in our heart. Our Lord teaches us not only against physical murder, but He teaches us to even love our enemies and pray for them.
What our Lord wants is our commitment and our faithfulness to His commands. What our Lord wants from us is our sincerity. We hear this not only in today’s first reading, but we hear this message also in today’s Gospel (Luke 10: 25-37). When asked by someone what he must do to inherit eternal life, our Lord says to him, “What is written in the law? How do you read it?” The man replies, “You shall love the Lord, your God,with all your heart,with all your being,with all your strength,and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” He replied to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.”
My friends, God wants us to give Him everything we have and everything we are, body, mind, and soul. Don’t be afraid to do this for the reward is eternal happiness with God, something that this world or whatever we keep from God cannot ever give!
We Christians are not simply preparing to cross over a river into an area of Promised Land that God is giving us to occupy. We are preparing to cross over from the gates of death into the Promised Land of eternal life. We are preparing to live with God as His sons and daughters for all eternity! Therefore, we are to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice holy and acceptable to God, our spiritual worship. We must not conform ourselves to this age but are to be transformed by the renewal of our mind so that we may judge what is God’s will, what is good, pleasing and perfect (Roman 12: 1-2).
We Catholics have sacraments. We receive the risen Lord within our bodies in the Holy Eucharist. In this sacrament we are to live as tabernacles of the Holy Spirit so that we can live as one in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord has spoken of us Christians as branches on a vine. Our Lord is the vine and we are His branches. The branches that do not bear good fruit will be cut off and burned in the fire. The branches that remain must be trimmed and pruned. These branches that need to be pruned are us, brothers and sisters. We must be pruned of what is not of God’s eternal life if we want to enter into His Kingdom. To help us be pruned of our disordered desires we have the sacrament of confession. Let us use this sacrament!
We also must do acts of penance. Penance and fasting are given to us through the Word of God as means to strengthen us in times of temptation so that we may be more disposed to hatred of offense against God and to a firm purpose of amendment and satisfaction.
We need to do works of mercy as our Lord teaches us in the story of today’s Gospel of the Samaritan man who shows compassion on a man who was beat up by robbers and left half dead. For when we meet God at the end of time we do not want to face God empty handed of good works.
Our Lord Jesus teaches us in the Gospels that not everyone who says to [Him], ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of [His] Father in heaven. Many will say to [Him] on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then [He] will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ (Matthew 7: 21-23). Why does He speak so harshly to them? Because He knows that they are not doing the will of God!
My brothers and sisters, as we reflect on today’s Gospel message, let us know the need for us to focus on the Word of God. Our society today does not act on God’s word or His laws, and our society today will continue on its selfish path of self-indulgence and immorality. Yet, our Lord Jesus is calling us not to conform our lives to the ways of this culture we live today. Our Lord is calling us to conform our lives to God’s ways so that we may live with Him in the Promised Land of the Kingdom of God that is to come when all sin is removed from this earth. Let us therefore, say yes to God in the faith we have received with all our mind, heart, and soul. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. Amen.