Homily Twentieth Sunday Year C Responding to the word of God

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Homily: Twentieth Sunday Year C

 

Reading 1: Jeremiah is a foreshadowing of Jesus. God sent him to warn the Israelites of the consequences of their sinning against God and not living up to their covenant commitment. God told Jeremiah that the word he will speak to the people will be a hard message for them to accept.

 

Before he went in the name of the Lord, God told Jeremiah that he would suffer greatly at the hands of the people. In our reading we heard one of the sufferings Jeremiah endured. Because of the word he will speak to them, even though it was true, they would reject it and him. It was because they refused to listen to the Lord, they should surrender to their enemy, who was attacking Jerusalem. This was for their chastisement from God.

 

The leaders and the people turned against Jeremiah. They sought to silence him by throwing him into a deep muddy well to die. But God rescued him through the concerns of some, who had accepted the fact that Jeremiah was indeed a prophet from God. What Jeremiah had predicted came true. Jerusalem was captured and many of the people were sent into exile. But this was not the end of the story. Those who remained asked Jeremiah to seek God’s plan for them. He did, even though he knew they would not act on it. This too came true. When told what God wanted them to do, they refused to act on it. They chose their own plan and experienced the consequences predicted by Jeremiah.

 

Their rebellious hearts were hardened to the word of God. No matter how many times they heard the word of God and saw what happens when it is not followed, they still repeated the same action. Have we acted the same as they did? We have heard the word of God, but choose our way instead.

 

Gospel: As Jeremiah was sent to the rebellious Israelites, Jesus has been sent by the Father to call mankind back to God, to reconcile the hardened hearts to God through his death on the cross. Out of love he chose to give his life, so that we have a share in God’s own divine life. Jesus, knowing the price he was to pay to accomplish the will of the Father, chooses with loving zeal the will of God. His desire is not cruel death of the cross, but the full embrace of the Father’s will out of love for the Father and us.

 

The fire Jesus has come to cast on the earth is this authentic, selfless love. The baptism, the immersion into his upcoming passion is freely embraced. Even so, he knows that, as the response of the Israelites to Jeremiah’s words were negative on the part of many, he will experience the same rejection. In fact, I believe that one of the temptations Jesus experienced in his agony in the Garden was the Evil One telling him that his death on the cross will have no impact in the lives of millions of peoples. He was being a fool, believing it would make a difference. Jesus’s response was: “Father, not my will but yours be done.”

 

This brings us to the reality of the second part of today’s Gospel. What does Jesus mean when he says family members will be divided against each other? A response to Jesus’ gift of love through his death is to accept him as Lord of our lives. In doing so, there will be those, even in our own family, who will react negatively towards us as a result. Whom will we submit to? The Lord or our family?

 

Reading 2 The author of Hebrews encourages us. 1) recall the many witnesses of faith and love who remained faithful to God in spite of their difficulties. 2) Continue to respond to Jesus by ridding ourselves of our many sins, which hold us back from the fuller life God has for us. 3) Keep our eyes on Jesus, who has shown us love beyond measure. 4) Keep your eyes on the prize and persevere in the race toward the prize, eternal life. As we keep our eyes on the Lord, remember his sufferings on our behalf, sufferings that include the shedding of his blood from scourging, being crowned with thorns, being stripped of his clothes, being nailed to the cross and the piercing of his side. In our resistance to sin, we have not yet had to shed our blood.  But in doing all of this Jesus put to lie of the Devil, that it will not make a difference to people, if Jesus died. In responding to Jesus we are saying it has made a difference in my life. For this reason, we continue to run the race, so that one day, with his grace, we may receive the crown of glory.

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