HOMILY FOR THE 15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: Turning to God and Turning to Fellow Human Beings in Love
BY: Fr. Luke Ijezie
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JULY 10 2022
Religion is a great force in our contemporary society. No matter how some try to deephasize it, it plays a fundamental role in everything we do. The readings of this 15th Sunday of the year guide us on the best approach to religion. While religion is a turning to God, this God orientation is expressed through turning to fellow human beings in love and solidarity.
1. The first reading from Deut 30:10-14 stresses the need of turning to God through the observance of the divine law. But the text is also quick to point out that this law is not something beyond our reach. It is not something we climb up to heaven to obtain. It is encountered in our daily living. The word of God is already written in our hearts. Our hope of life lies in turning to this word in our midst.
The psalmist of Today’s Psalm 68 adds weight to this turning by stressing the dimension of life. The only way to have real life is to turn to God. In all moments of need, we are never alone. God Himself turns towards us in our need and He does this through diverse agents.
2. The Gospel text from Luke 10:25-37 addresses the issue in a very dramatic way. The turning to God is summed up in love of God and love of neighbour. The one who claims to love God who is invisible must love the neighbour that is visible. The story of the Good Samaritan in this Gospel text dramatizes this love. The man victimised by armed robbers on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho can be understood as the wounded humanity that we are called upon to regard as neighbour. The priest who first sees him turns to the other side. In the same way, the Levite sees him and turns away to the other side. These two religious experts demonstrate gross inauthentic approach to religion. They represent the old religious approach to God. Instead of expressing their religiosity by turning in love to the wounded stranger they decide to look the other way. Jesus exposes these two men as showing the wrong side of religion. The Good Samaritan is put up as the model of sound religiosity because he shows love and solidarity. In fact, the Good Samaritan in this parable represents Jesus himself who has come to rescue wounded humanity.
The one to be helped doesn’t need to be known or to be good to deserve being helped. The fact of being in need or being wounded is enough to deserve love and solidarity. This is the unique thing about Christianity. It is a religion of love, and this love has no boundary. It is in loving that one encounters God. It is in loving and helping people in need that one expresses genuine religiosity. When the needy turns to God in prayer, God often answers by inspiring us to act as His agents to provide secure by turning towards the needy and not by turning to the other side, pretending to be too religious to be distracted. Jesus did not come to make us all fix our eyes only vertically to God.
3. While this vertical turning to God is fundamental, Jesus came to reconcile everything, all humanity to himself. He came to draw all creatures to himself by radically turning to us, identifying with us. In other words, the aim of Christ’s coming is to make all humanity remain united by drawing all together. This is the summary of the second reading of today from Colossians 1:15-20. When the text talks of all things being reconciled through him and in him, it makes no exception. All creatures, all humanity are within his constituency. Everything we do in the service of this unity is an expression of Christlike religiosity.
4. Christianity is a religion that is at service to all humanity without boundary. It has no place for hate and discrimination. Every human person is regarded as a neighbour, as a brother or a sister. Every human being deserves to be helped and loved. It is only in doing this that we can genuinely say we are converted. True conversion means turning to God and working for the welfare of every human person and every creature.
May this radical love for all God’s creatures continue to grow in our hearts so that we may truly realise a reconciled and renewed humanity!
Fr. Luke Ijezie