14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C ~ July 3, 2022
THE JOYFUL ACCEPTANCE
Don’t we all love to be joyful and happy? Yes, we do want to be happy and problem free. Someone said, “life is not a bed of roses” and we all know because we have our own pain and suffering. In the Bible there are three prophets who preferred death over life due their sufferings: Prophet Job; ““Let the day perish in which I was born, and the night that said, ‘A man-child is conceived.’ Let that day be darkness! May God above not seek it, or light shine on it. Let gloom and deep darkness claim it. Yes, let that night be barren; let no joyful cry be heard in it. “Why did I not die at birth,
come forth from the womb and expire? Why were there knees to receive me, or breasts for me to suck? Now I would be lying down and quiet; I would be asleep; then I would be at rest”.
Prophet Jeremiah: “Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! Cursed be the man who brought the news to my father, saying, “A child is born to you, a son,” making him very glad. Let that man be like the cities that the Lord overthrew without pity; let him hear a cry in the morning and an alarm at noon because he did not kill me in the womb; so, my mother would have been my grave, and her womb forever great. Why did I come forth from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame?
And then Prophet Jonah “But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:1-3).
St. Paul shares his suffering with the people of Corinth to remind them to be joyful in the Lord; “ I repeat, let no one think that I am a fool; but if you do, then accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. What I am saying regarding this boastful confidence, I am saying not with the Lord’s authority, but as a fool; since many boasts according to human standards, I will also boast. For you gladly put up with fools, being wise yourselves! For you put up with it when someone makes slaves of you, or preys upon you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or gives you a slap in the face. To my shame, I must say, we were too weak for that! But whatever anyone dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ? I am talking like a madman—I am a better one: with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless floggings, and often near death. Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I am not indignant?” (2 Corinthians 11:16-29).
Did these people lose their trust and faith in the Lord? Absolutely not rather they trusted in the Lord because he consoles us in our suffering and helps us to be joyful “rejoice, rejoice in the Lord, again I say rejoice in the Lord” as St. Paul says. God cares about us because “he loved the world so much that he gave his only Begotten Son, so that anyone who believes in him may not be condemned but have eternal life” as St. John confirms. He loves us so much that he has “carried all our worries and iniquities onto him” and calls us to “come to him who are weary and carrying heavy burdens and he will give us rest”.
St. Irenaeus bishop and martyr strongly believed that we should believe in God to receive life “The glory of God gives life; those who see God receive life. For this reason, God, who cannot be grasped, comprehended, or seen, allows himself to be seen, comprehended, and grasped by men, that he may give life to those who see and receive him. It is impossible to live without life, and the actualization of life comes from participation in God, while participation in God is to see God and enjoy his goodness. Men will therefore see God if they are to live; through the vision of God, they become immortal and attain to God himself. As I have said, this was shown in symbols by the prophets: God will be seen by men who hear his Spirit and are always waiting for his coming. As Moses said in the Book of Deuteronomy: On that day we shall see, for God will speak to man, and man will live. God is the source of all activity throughout creation. He cannot be seen or described in his own nature and in all his greatness by any of his creatures. Yet he is certainly not unknown. Through his Word the whole creation learns that there is one God and Father, who holds all things together and gives them their being. As it is written in the Gospel: No man has ever seen God, except the only Begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; he has revealed him. From the beginning the Son is the one who teaches us about the Father; he is with the Father from the beginning. He was to reveal to the human race visions of prophecy, the diversity of spiritual gifts, his own ways of ministry, the glorification of the Father, all due order and harmony, at the appointed time and for our instruction. Where there is order, there is also correct timing; where there is correct timing, there is also advantage”.
He continues to say “The Word became the steward of the Father’s grace for the advantage of men, for whose benefit he made such wonderful arrangements. He revealed God to men and presented men to God. He safeguarded the invisibility of the Father to prevent men from treating God with contempt and to set before him a constant goal toward which to make progress. On the other hand, he revealed God to men and made him visible in many ways to prevent man from being totally separated from God and so cease to be. Life in man is the glory of God; the life of man is the vision of God. If the revelation of God through creation gives life to all who live upon the earth, much more does the manifestation of the Father through the Word give life to those who see God”.
Today’s Sacred Scripture readings invite us to open our hearts and minds to joyful acceptance that God cares about us and loves us. I think we must have faith in the man in the following story which helps us to leave our worries onto him who carries all our worries.
The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old piece of furniture had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pick-up truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence. When we reached his home, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation. His weary face was beaming with smiles as he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss. Afterward, he walked me back to my car, and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier. “Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied, “I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing is for sure, troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and my children. So, I just hang them on the tree every night when I come home. Then, in the morning, I pick them up again.” He paused, “Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.
In the First Reading, Prophet Isaiah being the prophet of good news, invites everyone to “rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her….” (Also please read Psalm 122). This message comes to the house of Israel while they are in Babylonian exile (The Babylonian captivity or Babylonian exile is the period (585BC) in Jewish history during which many Judeans from the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon, the capital city of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, following their defeat in the Jewish–Babylonian War and the destruction of Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The event is described in the Hebrew Bible, and its historicity is supported by archaeological and non-biblical evidence. They lived there for 70 years (Please read Psalm 136/137) that God is going to restore them back to Jerusalem. Just imagine if have problem in our life and then suddenly we get solution, then what our reaction would be? God is our consoler (read Isaiah 40/41chapters please), and he doesn’t want anyone of us to be lost.
St. Paul on the other hand, says in the Second Reading that he would “boast of anything except the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ” is a joyful acceptance of the Lord. I believe if we have faith and trust in the Lord, our pain and suffering will change into joy and happiness because “it is not we who have loved him, but it is he who has loved us first and has given his life our sake” as St. John says in his First Letter. God’s grace makes us stronger in our weaknesses and failures and shows us the right path to follow him.
St. Augustine reminds everyone, never to forget that we are weak but if we acknowledge our sins and shortcomings then like King David, our lives are going to be different: “I acknowledge my transgression, says David. If I admit my fault, then you will pardon it. Let us never assume that if we live good lives we will be without sin; our lives should be praised only when we continue to beg for pardon. But men are hopeless creatures, and the less they concentrate on their own sins, the more interested they become in the sins of others. They seek to criticize, not to correct. Unable to excuse themselves, they are ready to accuse others. This was not the way that David showed us how to pray and make amends to God, when he said: I acknowledge my transgression, and my sin is ever before me. He did not concentrate on others’ sins; he turned his thoughts on himself. He did not merely stroke the surface, but he plunged inside and went deep down within himself. He did not spare himself, and therefore was not impudent in asking to be spared. Do you want God to be appeased? Learn what you are to do that God may be pleased with you. Consider the psalm again: If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it; in burnt offerings you will take no delight. Are you then to be without sacrifice? Are you to offer nothing? Will you please God without an offering? Consider what you read in the same psalm: If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it; in burnt offerings you will take no delight. But continue to listen and say with David: A sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit; God does not despise a contrite and humble heart. Cast aside your former offerings, for now you have found out what you are to offer. In the days of your fathers, you would have made offerings of cattle—these were the sacrifices. If you wanted sacrifice, I would indeed have given it. These then, Lord, you do not want, and yet you do want sacrifice. You will take no delight in burnt offerings, David says. If you will not take delight in burnt offerings, will you remain without sacrifice? Not at all. A sacrifice to God is a contrite spirit; God does not despise a contrite and humble heart. You now have the offering you are to make. No need to examine the herd, no need to outfit ships and travel to the most remote provinces in search of incense. Search within your heart for what is pleasing to God. Your heart must be crushed. Are you afraid that it might perish so? You have the reply: Create a clean heart in me, O God. For a clean heart to be created, the unclean one must be crushed. We should be displeased with ourselves when we commit sin, for sin is displeasing to God. Sinful though we are, let us at least be like God in this, that we are displeased at what displeases him. In some measure then you will be in harmony with God’s will, because you find displeasing in yourself what is abhorrent to your Creator”.
In the Gospel today Jesus calls another seventy-two disciples along with twelve apostles and that he sends them to the villages and cities to announce the Kingdom of God. He comes to bring the love of God to the world, and he wishes to share it by means of communion and fraternity. To this end he immediately forms a community of disciples, a missionary community, and he trains them how to “go out” on mission. The method is both clear and simple: the disciples visit homes, and their preaching begins with a greeting which is charged with meaning: “Peace be to this house!”. It is not only a greeting, but also a gift: the gift of peace. In the mission of the seventy-two disciples, we see a reflection of the Christian community’s missionary experience in every age: the risen and living Lord sends not only the Twelve, but the entire Church; he sends each of the baptized to announce the Gospel to all peoples (please Read Acts 4:32-37). Through the ages, the message of peace brought by Jesus’ messengers has not always been accepted; at times, the doors have been closed to them. In our recent times we could see how people are trying to banish God from the hearts of men and women and to exclude Christ and the Church (please read 2 Peter 2:1-115).
Today let us open our hearts and minds to a joyful acceptance of his love, mercy and compassion and pray for those who need God’s mercy, healing, and strength the most. Jesus is saddened at being rejected, Pope Francis explained, while the pagan cities like Tyre and Sidon, seeing His miracles, “surely would have believed.” And He wept, “because these people were not capable of loving,” although “He desired to reach all the hearts He met, with a message that was not a dictatorial message, but a message of love. We, each of us, can put ourselves in the place of the inhabitants of these three cities, Pope Francis said: “I, who have received so much from the Lord, who was born in a Christian society, who have known Jesus Christ, who have known salvation,” I who was educated in the faith. Yet it is so easy for me to forget Jesus. On the other hand, “we think of the news of other people, who, as soon as they heard the proclamation of Jesus, converted and followed Him.” But we’ve grown used to it. And this attitude is harmful to us because it reduces the Gospel to a social rather than a personal relationship with Jesus. Jesus speaks to me, He speaks to you, He speaks to each one of us.
Here is the story by unknown author for us to understand that our joyful acceptance of the Lord will always lead us to him gain life and life in abundance.
One day, I did something very unusual. I sat in a cafeteria while 5th and 6th grade students were eating lunch and cried. I didn’t care who saw. I was upset about something, but it took more than that to make me cry. In fact, I did exactly what I always advise other people not to do. I thought about one problem and let it remind me of a lot of other problems, things in the past. I sat there and thought about every person I’d ever known who went through some traumatic thing that I thought there was some possibility I could have prevented if only I had done something a little differently.
There was dropping out of school, becoming drug addicts, getting evicted from houses, shooting up, getting pregnant before finishing high school, getting diseases, quitting church, getting involved in prostitution, suffering physical abuse, and going to prison for selling crack. All these things have happened to people I’ve known, people I had a chance to influence.
As if that wasn’t enough, I didn’t stop there. Then, I thought about people I don’t even know. Starving kids in foreign countries, people who get murdered, abused, raped. People whose loved ones die. Persecuted Christians. Little kids who get cancer. All the ugly things that happen to people in the world. And so yeah, I was crying, and I didn’t care who saw. I was crying for everything and everybody, even the kids in that cafeteria, knowing some of their stories were sad or would be. Yeah, this world is really messed up. So, I asked, “God…can’t You…do better than this?”
His answer was this. First, He reminded me that all those people I know, His love for them is infinitely greater than mine could ever be, so His heart is infinitely more broken than mine for them… Then, He reminded me that all those people I don’t even know, His love for them is that great as well. (How can He handle so much heartbreak…?) Next, He gave us all a wonderful world to live in. Everything in this world that’s wonderful, every happy memory we’ve ever had…it’s all from Him. Not only that, but He gave us everything we need to know to keep our lives happy and everything we need to know so that after this life, we can live a perfect life with Him forever. It’s all right here (in the Bible). If only we’d read it, if only we’d listen…
HE DIED FOR US. He is smarter than all of us put together. He has more love for us than all of us put together. Everything He tells us to do is for our benefit, our peace, our joy, our fulfillment. Everything He tells us not to do will only bring us sorrow and pain. Yet so many ignore His loving commands, choosing instead to follow our own ideas, the world’s ideas about what will make us happy… So many people doing that, each of us doing that sometimes, that’s what makes this world messed up. So, God’s question back to me, back to everyone: “Can’t you…do better than this?”
That’s the question that we each need to ask ourselves.
Other Sermons In This Series
October 06, 2023
April 08, 2022
December 17, 2021