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Never give up and never give in

Homily for the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time , year B 2012

I’m heartbroken. My heart breaks as I read the news about Syria today. The uprising that has started over a year ago has already cost hundreds  if not thousands of lives. And this includes civilians, innocent people, children, women, and elderly victims. Just today, someone has posted a video that broke my heart. It shows a clip of some people being massacred by the Regime there. Apparently, it is just a glimpse of  the dozens of people that have been massacred there just very recently.

What really got me was the young man hovering over  the dead body of his father, lying on the street, wrapped with a blanket. This man was crying as he tried to wake his father up. “Come on, dad,” he said, “For the sake of God, get up.”

This really breaks my heart because that was a video of a real thing, not scripted. The act of killings is really happening there in many different ways regardless of who the victims are. And this just shows us an absolute disregard of the value and the dignity of human life.  It shows a complete neglect of the culture of life and an apparent embrace of the culture of death. This is clearly showing us a sign of a social decay as Prophet Amos (in our First Reading) preached about.

It is upsetting. It is really is unless we play indifference here. And we can always do that. We can always act as if we don’t really care. Anyway, that didn’t happen in our immediate surroundings. That didn’t happen in Australia. That only happens on their side of the world. But for God’s sake, let’s get up and do something. Let’s stand up to eradicate this social decay.

But how? How can we stop this apparent culture of death?

Jesus would answer this in our Gospel today. He is sending us to be his witnesses to the ends of earth by proclaiming the real and eternal life that he brings. So with his help, we can stop and change this culture of death. So for God’s sake, let’s get up and do something.

But what can we do, we may ask?

Upon reflection on the Gospel today, an insight came into my mind: ‘Let’s never give up doing our best to eradicate the social decays,  and never give in to the false hopes and promises that the world has laid out before us.

With the grim situation in Syria and in many parts of the world, there is always a temptation to give up and say: ‘I can’t really do anything about it. It is beyond my control now.’ But Jesus, as in  our gospel has given us power and authority to be his witnesses, to be  the messengers of his love and care, and to be instruments of his  compassion and forgiveness.

Therefore, we are not to give up upholding and embracing life. We must not give up clinging to God who is the source of our life. We need him always, and even more than ever. It is only by clinging to him, in a personal relationship with him that we come to renewal in ourselves and eventually to renew our society. With God, we are strengthened to be firm in our cause for the dignity of human life. By his solidarity with the human race we can also extend solidarity with the whole of humanity especially those who are   suffering. We can pray for them always, yes, but we are called to be praying with them by uniting our hearts and minds with them in their sorrows and pain, in their yearning for peace and for justice.

Furthermore, let’s not give up praying and working for peace in the whole world. Let’s be people of peace. And a way to become people of peace is the readiness to forgive. A forgiving heart is a grace to ask God for and an attitude to cultivate. If we are not forgiving people, we are not concretely representing our Lord and God, because He himself is a God of love, a God of justice and a God of forgiveness.

The second way we can do to eradicate the social decays like killing and violence is not to give in to the temptations of the world. Jesus has urged  his disciples not to expect so much comfort, luxury or compensation as they  go and proclaim the gospel. Like them, we, who are the witnesses of Christ in our time and age, must not give in to the false promises of security, fame, and name that the world  laid out before us. Let us not give in to the temptation of selfishness and self-preservation, and not showing care and concern for our needy neighbours. One concrete way to realize this is to make sacrifices, by denying ourselves of some things we want to do or want to have. For instance, if we spend 15 dollars for a meal in a restaurant every week, that means 60 dollars a month. We can sacrifice two weeks of those, and give 30 dollars to Caritas or Catholic Mission and other reliable agencies to help provide for the needs of these people.

So as we continue our Eucharistic celebration today, let’s pray that we grow more into  an Eucharistic people by not giving up proclaiming Christ in our lives and to others everyday. Let’s remind ourselves always that it is only in and through Christ that God’s abundant blessings be poured on us as St Paul tells us in our Second Reading today. Let us also pray that we may not give in to the voice of the world telling us that life that we have now is all that there is. So for God’s sake, let’s get up and be true to our Christian identity and mission, before God and before others. Amen.

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