Homily for the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Cycle C
What kind of division does Jesus Bring?
In the Gospel today Jesus says that he came to bring division – and this message can be a little unsettling for us – It leads to the Question – What kind of division does Jesus bring?
Jesus brings division because he causes a decision
Jesus brings the division of knowing the Truth – which is who he was. Truth, by it’s nature forces us to make a decision, we either chose to accept the Truth, and incorporate it into our lives, or to reject the truth and believe some lie instead. In this way Jesus is the Word of God – whom St. Paul says earlier in the letter to the Hebrews (5:12) that “the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.”
Truth is the light of Reason
As Humans we have a fundamental need for the Truth, just as we need food and water to live, we need truth to think.
Truth convinces us to make a decision – we either see the truth in the argument or we reject it.
Some Examples of how we need the Truth in our lives.
- For example, drink milk, because your bones need calcium. I give you a reason for wanting to buy milk.
- You need to take this medicine because it will lower your blood pressure.
Because Truth is at the foundation of all of our thinking and living life, we are attracted to Truth – We are designed for knowing the Truth. This is one of the ways that we are created in the image and likeness of God. As Christians we are called to live our lives in such a way so that we bear witness to the Truth in all that we say and do.
Truth is universal
For Truth to be universal means that it means the same thing to all people in all time.
An Example of a how universal and relative truth work. – Red and Green colors work in traffic laws.
Moral Truth is Universal
In the same way moral Truth is universal. We “Get it” when we think about universal truth applying to traffic laws, but we often don’t like to think of moral truth as applying to our behavior.
Being a successful liar only works if people assume you are honest.
Being honest as a person is important to our world – in fact everyone assumes it. This is why liars try to lie, because they assume that you and I will believe the Truth.
Our culture today teaches that there are no Moral Truths, this is why we murder the unborn, we have corrupt politicians, and have infidelity in marriage. We live in a society that is in darkness, and as Christians we are called to bring the light of Truth into the world with how we live out our lives.
What does it mean to “Witness to the Truth”?
The Example from the First Reading – Jeremiah witnesses to the Truth, and how the world Responded
Have you ever heard the adage “Don’t shoot the messenger just because you don’t like the message?” This adage is based on a desire to know the Truth, and to deal in the Truth. In the First Reading today, Jeremiah is a prophet of God, and he is bringing the message of Truth to the people of Jerusalem. They had turned away from God and were worshiping false Gods. Jeremiah was sent by God to proclaim the Truth of God to them, to teach them that God loves them truly, purely, completely. They did not want to hear it, so the people denied the Truth and threw Jeremiah into a well, where he was sitting in the dark, stuck in the mud. Jeremiah felt that he was dead.
The beauty of Truth is that it’s witness endures in spite of its rejection. Truth speaks to the soul and so it will come back even though we want to suppress it. This is what happened to Jeremiah today, he was sitting in the Mud when the Truth convicted Ebed the Cushite to go to the King and explain how the King had allowed people to commit a wrong against the Truth. Ebed said to the King – Look, you just shot the messenger, the messenger of Truth is in the Mud, lets get him, and so they did.
What are the offenses against the Truth? – Each Day we live is an opportunity to Repent.
Whenever we are confronted with the Truth we need to make a decision. The great thing about the Gospel is that God is always leading us to conversion, he is always asking us to change our mind, to reconsider. Each day that we are alive he asks us to convert, to change our mind and to accept the Truth a little more deeply in our lives each day.
Two ways that we offend the Truth, that we sin against God is though lying and through Gossip.
If I have a habit of lying, of speaking falsely I must ask myself why? Why to I behave in a way that I know is contrary to the Truth. I must become uncomfortable with the false witness I am giving. I must reject the lies that I tell myself – they are only “white” lies – This is a lie that I tell myself so that I don’t have to examine my own reasoning and find see the flaws in my own character. If you struggle with lying then ask the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Truth each day to point out to you when you are tempted to lie, and then speak the truth instead. Each evening examine your behavior, again call on the Holy Spirit to witness to you how you did, and to help you to do better tomorrow.
Gossip is when we take pleasure is speaking about someone’s faults – even if they are true. There is a right time and place to speak about faults, and it is when that conversation will bring about conversion. An example of this would be in confession with a priest, he might speak to you about your faults to help you understand them and to correct them. When we speak about our neighbors faults to another, we are destroying their reputation, we are not treating them with love. We all have faults, and we all need to live with one another’s faults. Jesus showed us how to do this when he said that Mercy (Love) wipes away a multitude of Sins. Rather then talking at great length about the faults of another, rather than gossiping about them, we are called to bear with another’s faults out of love.
St. Therese of Liseux, the witness of Love verses Gossip.
Love converts the soul of the one loved, and of the one who is loving.
St. Paul calls us to persevere to the end – To run the race to the finish, but to run the race so as to win. Everyone, in every state of life has an opportunity to bear witness to the Truth – Even Jeremiah, sitting in a well in Jerusalem bore witness of the Truth to the King – and so he was pulled out of the Mud. We too are called to bear witness to the Truth with our lives each day this week – We are called to reflect the love of Christ into North Star community center in how we greet and treat those around us – our room mates, care takers and fellow residents.
The Gospel today challenges us to answer the question – How am I going to witness to the Truth of God’s love this week?