Homily for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C. 03-03-2019 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Sirach 27:4-7
Psalm: Psalm 92:2-3, 13-16
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:54-58
Gospel: Luke 6:39-45
Our readings today offer us aphorisms that we can use as food for thought to guide us in the way and manner we live our lives. Beginning with our first reading from the book of Ecclesiasticus, Sirach in his wisdom gives us a piece of advice on the importance of testing the character of the people we meet. And the aim is clear, so that we will not misjudge people. So we must not rely on first impressions alone in forming opinions about people, but we must adopt the wise counsel of patience which will make us to first listen and hear what comes out of them. And just as the orchard where a tree grows is judged on the quality of its fruit, similarly a man’s words portray what he feels. Ask yourself, do the kind of words you utter portray you as a wise and responsible child of God? Do they befit you and your calling or do they betray you? It is in the same vein that Christ also presents three distinct elements in the aphorisms He uses to teach us in the gospel reading of today. Christ begins by asking, ‘can one blind man guide another?’ Then He teaches about removing the splinter from your own eye first to see clearly what is in another’s eye, and then He concludes with the teaching about the sound tree producing good fruit. In piecing these three fragments together, Christ wants us to see their interrelatedness, because naturally one seems to follow the other.
As Christ says, a blind man leading another will both fall into a ditch, because no one can teach unless he or she has first learned. This is true in every aspect of life, and particularly in the Church as well. The Church is called mater et magistra (mother and teacher), because she is blessed by Christ with a teaching authority called the magisterium. This body consisting of the Pope, Bishops, theologians and consultors, teach us by setting for us the course on how to relate our faith and morals to the ever changing circumstances of our world in every age. Their rich knowledge enlightened by the Holy Spirit has also evolved over many centuries, as the Church continues to grow in understanding of itself and the world. And it is precisely because of the Holy Spirit which enlightens her that the Church can see what the world cannot see. But now it is the world that wants to lead the Church, and that is why there is so much tension between the world and the Church as we can see in the crises rocking the Church today. Sadly this is because some members of the Church have lost the light of the gospel, allowing themselves to be led astray by the cares of the world and the world has refused to be charitable in correction. Nevertheless, this does not make the Church lose its role conferred on her by Christ as the ‘sacrament of salvation’ (Lumen Gentium). This leads us to the salutary fragment about the splinter as it has now become very easy for the world to see the faults of the Church while remaining blind to its own inadequacies. Some of us are like this too, we see clearly and easily the mistakes of other people around us without seeing our own mistakes. We are so immersed in our own lives that we find it difficult to observe our own faults and the fact that we even fall short of the standards we expect of others. Such hypocrisy can only be overcome by cultivating the interior life through prayer and meditation which leads us to a spiritual awareness of ourselves. The more spiritually sensitive we become, the more we realise the impact of our actions on God and on the people around us. And alongside this comes the realization of our faults and how to be sorry for them; and how to be able to lead better Christian lives by rectifying them. It is after doing this that we can begin to produce good fruits which will show in the good and edifying words that come from our mouths and the good actions that we put forth springing from the store of goodness of our hearts. So what kind of fruits are you producing? Is it good fruits or bad fruits? If we have truly received the gifts of the spirit, we will bear the good fruits of the spirit. And St. Paul tells us that, ‘the fruit of the spirit is, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).’ But whoever preaches hatred, violence, vengeance, immorality, selfishness, and gossip, is without God’s spirit and cannot not bear good fruits.
Today some of us shy away from standing for the truth out of fear of castigation since we are now living in a world that sees truth as a minority and an unpopular view. Some of us have decided not to correct people anymore for fear we will be labelled hypocrites and today’s gospel passage be invoked against us. In the midst of all of these, St. Paul in the second reading encourages us all not to be afraid of saying the truth and doing what is good before the Lord. He says; ‘never give in then, my dear brothers, never admit defeat; keep on working at the Lord’s work always, knowing that in the Lord, you cannot be laboring in vain. So let us not lose heart as we carry our crosses daily to follow the Lord, because He will surely reward us above all with eternal life. This is our prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen.