Homily for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: Familiarity and Relativism
By Fr. Anthony O. EZEAPUTA, MA.
Homily for Sunday January 30 2022
Today’s Gospel passage (Lk 4:21-30) contains the story of Jesus’ rejection by his people. The reason behind his rejection is not surprising: it is because of their familiarity with Jesus.
According to St. Luke, despite Jesus’ miracles and teaching, his mission to his people was a failure because those who heard him did not go past the obvious human truths about him. “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?” (Lk 4:22) they asked. Jesus was only a poor carpenter’s son, he was Mary’s son, and they knew his brothers and sisters. Eventually, this familiarity would lead to his death.
Jesus’ experience of rejection by his people exemplifies the adage that “familiarity breeds contempt.” Or as he himself puts it, “Nemo propheta in patria”—”no prophet is accepted in his own native place” (Lk 4:24). That is, nobody is entirely accepted by the people who are so close to them.
Today, familiarity and relativism continue to be major challenge in the Church. Some Catholics have become so familiar with the sacraments, especially, the Eucharist that they receive our Lord Jesus having committed mortal sins.
They forget the warning of Saint Paul: “So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep” (1 Cor 11:27-32).
The Holy Communion, in the Catholic Church, is not a “come one, come all” event. It is the Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is reserved for those who, by grace, preserve union with the Church through adherence to all the Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God. Our response of “Amen” at Holy Communion signifies our acceptance of these truths, especially, our faith in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
Before you present yourselves to receive Holy Communion, you should examine yourselves along this line:
1. Am I in full communion with the Catholic Church?
2. Am I guilty of grave sin?
3. Have I incurred a penalty that forbids me to receive Holy Communion?
These questions will help you against the practice of indiscriminately presenting yourself to receive Holy Communion, merely because you are present at Mass.
Next to the problem of familiarity with the sacraments is the problem of rejecting the official teaching office of the Church. Some Catholics have become so familiar with our pope and bishops, that they seem to have replaced the magisterium of the Church with their dogmatized personal opinions, especially on moral issues.
The Church teaches, “The task of giving an authentic interpretation of the Word of God, whether in its written form or in the form of Tradition, has been entrusted to the living teaching office of the Church alone. Its authority in this matter is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ” (CCC 85).
This means that the task of interpretation of the Word of God “for teaching the truth and refuting error, for reformation of manners and discipline in right living, so that the man who belongs to God may be efficient and equipped for good work of every kind” (2 Tim. 3:16-17) has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter, the Bishop of Rome.
Today, the successor of Peter is Pope Francis, and our local church is blessed to have Archbishop John C. Wester as our Chief Shepherd. God speaks to us through them. With reference to our pope and bishops, let us remember this wise counsel, “…bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ” (LG, 20).
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger once stated: “Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be ‘tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine’, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”
Cardinal Ratzinger’s exhortation remains as relevant today as it was then, perhaps even more so in these days when prophets appear to be embraced or rejected based on “how they make one feel” or their ideological or political affiliations.
Have you ever heard someone remark, “I’m not a big fan of him. He’s too far to the right or left”? People nowadays shop around at different churches or parishes even dioceses looking for preachers or bishops whose political, ideological, and theological views are similar to their own.
Catholics are to accept the doctrines of the Church regardless of who God uses to convey it. Unfortunately, familiarity and relativism can make it difficult for some people to open their minds to receive the message of God through our pope, bishops, priests, and deacons. Jesus’ people couldn’t get to accept that this poor son of a carpenter was actually the Son of God.
Today, let us pray for adult faith. That is, a faith that transcends ideological, political, and moral affiliations. For adult faith is founded on a sincere love and friendship with Christ through his Church. May this sincere love and friendship open us up to all that is good and provides us with a standard for distinguishing the true from the false and deception from the truth.
Homily for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time
January 30, 2022