Homily - 23rd Sunday Ordinary time A - Fr Francis Afu

6 September 2020 

Homily for the Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A 2020

 

Tiempo de lectura aprox: 2 minutos, 29 segundos

God’s Call to Freedom

I like to start my homilies with something funny. I do that so that we can let go of the world with all its cares and worries. Out there in the world what we often hear is bad news. We hear stories that break our hearts, make us anxious and afraid of the future. But here, in our Father’s house, we hear the Good News. We hear stories that set us free and empower us to live as brothers and sisters. We hear the call to come in and be fathered by God.

The whole concept of the Fatherhood of God is deeply featured in every verse of scripture. For Christians God is our Father. He is the Father who created us. He is the Father who nurtures and sustains His creation. He is the Father who is God with us. In other words, He is the Father who is present and sees to our future. Christians, as did Israel, pride themselves of the closeness of God by asking, ‘For what great nation is there that has a god so near as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon Him? (Deuteronomy 4:7 NRSV). God is always with us.

In Christ Jesus, He is with us as we heard from today’s Gospel reading (Matthew 18:15-20) when we gather in His name. He is with us hearing our cry, answering our prayers, leading us as a father leads his children. He is with us feeding us with the Word of life and the bread of life. His Word today is a summons to freedom. He wants us to be freed from sin that separates us from His loving embrace and exposes us to the elements, allowing us to starve and die. He wants us to be freed to live.

So He addresses us not as individuals, who define themselves in distinction from another, but as persons who define themselves in relation to others. And, as persons gathered by Him into a community, He knows that there will be conflicts; we will disagree, fight and even wrong each other badly. However, He does not want our conflicts to break our community and make us live as enemies. He wants us to remain a family, healing our wounds within the family and looking out for each other.

To achieve this end, He calls us to freedom. Freedom not in the secular sense of doing whatever we like, want and feel. But freedom in the biblical sense which according to Bishop Robert Barron is the discipline of our desires that makes the good possible and effortless. Thus, Jesus in today’s Gospel reading calls us to discipline our desire for revenge; to discipline our desire for indifference, our desire to follow the maxims: ‘It is not your business.’ ‘Do not judge’.

We all know how conventional these, and similar maxims have become. However, we also know their consequences. Martin Neimoller puts it this way, ‘First they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the communist and I did not speak out because I was not a communist… then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me.” While indifference may not rock the boat, it does not solve the problem. Rather it allows the problem to escalate into bigger and uncontrollable problems in the future.

To avoid this from happening, Jesus in the Gospel teaches us how to be concerned in His community, His Father’s family. He teaches us how to resolve the conflicts that may arise therein. He wants us to be involved in the resolution. He wants us to see to it that our quarrels, our angers and bitterness are healed, and our community is together. For it is only when we are together as a community of believers that the good of happiness, peace of mind, caring for one another, correcting the erring, looking after the sick and elderly is possible, and effortless.

Jodie and Greg’s family answered this called to freedom. They were a typical family with their own struggles and many success stories. But Greg was simply great. He was the sort of bloke one would like to have as a father. Often, he tells his children he is who is he because he let go of his anger towards his own father. And he was able to forgive his father because He was man enough to be forgiven by God. Greg’s freedom from the sin of hatred bore the fruit of a happy family. We can only imagine what would happen when we answer God’s call to freedom.

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