Homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: LET IT BURN
By: Fr. Gerald M. Musa
Homily for Sunday August 18 2019
The famous Greek philosopher Socrates (c. 469 BC – 399 BC) was a social critic who criticised the system of government of his day and encouraged people to pursue self-development over amassing material wealth. His ideas were strange and this explains why authorities rose against him. He was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens and not bowing before the gods of the state. Consequently, he was sentenced to death. Socrates believed firmly that his accusation was borne out of bias and gossips.
The prophet Jeremiah was a fiery preacher and was consumed with a passion for truth and for proclaiming the word of God. He also was accused falsely. Those who were on the side of truth supported him. Those who were challenged by the truth vehemently opposed him. Princes falsely accused him of demoralising soldiers and people. The false accusations almost made his to give up his prophetic ministry, but Jeremiah acknowledged a fire burning in him: “But if I say, I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name, his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9).
Jesus also speaks of fire: “I have come to bring fire to the earth…”, He said. The fire, which he speaks about, is not a destructive fire, but the fire of Divine love and presence. This fire is the fire of the Holy Spirit and the light of grace; It is the fire that sets cold and lukewarm hearts on fire; a fire that purifies and a fire that shines in the dark; It is the fire of the word of God that burns like a torch (Sir 48:1; cf. 1 Kings 18:38-39; Luke 24:32); and it is the fire of baptism that transforms those who experience it (Luke 1:17; 3:16.); It is the fire of the Holy Spirit that empowered the Apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:3-4.); it is this fire that differentiates between those who stand on the side of truth from those who stand against the truth; it is a fire that defines and a fire that divides; the fire defines the children of light and creates a division between those whose faith is on fire and those who have a stone-cold faith.
Today, This fire of the Spirit is dying in the hearts of many people today; the fire for truth and justice is extinguished by the indifference we show in the midst of falsehood, blatant lies and injustice. We live in a situation where we are no longer active, zealous and passionate for the values and truths they stand for. Rather, we are a generation of passive people who are willing to accept half-truths and for anything that goes. The scripture warns those who are lukewarm saying, “Because you are lukewarm, neither hot or cold. I am going to spit you out” (Revelation 3:16).
In conclusion, let us pray that the Holy Spirit enkindles in our hearts the fires of Divine love. Francis Cardinal Arinze says: “You cannot inspire unless you are on fire.” The human person in you dies when the Spirit stops burning. Therefore, light it up and let it burn.
20th Sunday of the Year/ Jeremiah 38:4-6,8-10; Hebrews 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-53