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Thank God for the gift of Faith

 

Homily for 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time  year B 2012

As I look at all of you here today in this Mass, I can’t help but give thanks and praise to God for the gift of faith he has given to each and everyone of us. Yes, I really meant it. In fact I  can’t move on with my homily without thanking you all for coming today, because I assumed you’re here because of your faith. If you didn’t have faith, you would not have been here today to attend this Mass. If you didn’t have faith, you could have been there at your lounge watching your favourite football team playing or lamenting if your team is losing. But thanks be to God, you come here today to celebrate your faith and express it through our active participation in this holy Eucharist. Thank you.

Why am I talking about faith here?

Well, why not? This is one of the messages of Jesus for us as we heard in our gospel. For five Sundays now we have been reflecting on the gospel of John chapter 6 on the Bread of life discourse of Jesus. On the 17th Sunday we heard Jesus feeding thousands of people out of few loaves and few fishes. Because of this instant and easy way of getting bread, people came to follow him. But then on the 18th Sunday we heard him  inviting us to go beyond our need of worldly satisfaction and come to believe [or in our case now- to renew our belief] in him who  is the true bread-given to us from heaven. Then on the 19th Sunday we heard him telling of himself as the living bread ‘for the life of the world’ [i.e. for us now] as well as our food for eternity as he said: ‘Anyone who eats this bread will live forever.’ Then last Sunday- the 20th Sunday we heard him telling us that he himself has come   to become our food and drink– for only by taking him as our real food and drink that we grow into a real and more personal communion with him. And in this Sunday’s gospel Jesus is saying to us that it is not enough just to follow him and expect something from him in return all the time. He is calling us to believe in his words, and in his actions in the Eucharist. He is calling us to respond in faith.

It really requires faith to see Jesus in every liturgy we celebrate. It really demands faith if we want to savour the love of God for us contained in that small and ordinary earthly elements of bread and wine. It really takes faith to have the courage to partake the living body and blood of Jesus in the Communion Species we receive today.

However, we are not only here today because we want to express our faith into action or into a more practical and concrete way. We are primarily because we are drawn by the Father of Jesus Christ. He is the one who gives us the gift of faith. He is the one who makes things happen and let things happen. He is the one who invites us to communion with his Son and to walk with him towards his kingdom of love, justice and peace.

It is appropriate therefore, that we celebrate this Eucharist because of these two noble motives: to thank God for drawing us closer to him and to renew our faith in Jesus Christ.

What can we do to thank God for calling us to communion with him? I’m sure we can find million other ways but our First Reading today offers us one way to express our thanks to God for drawing us to him: to decide to serve God.

This is a daily task, not a one-off thing. We can only make this decision if our faith is strong enough. The beauty of this decision is that we don’t have to become someone we are not. The good thing about this decision is that we would come to realize that we really don’t have to please everyone and that we don’t really have to be slaves of other people’s expectations of us.

To serve God we don’t have to be someone rich, popular or even able. To serve God is just to be true to who we are as Christians. To serve God is to allow God and make ourselves available God. To serve God is to make good use of our talents, skills, abilities, and our resources to help others see the face of God in our human situations.

And what can we do to renew our faith in Jesus Christ who reveals to us the abundant love of God for all of us?

St Paul in our Second reading today  offers us a way to renew our faith in Christ. Speaking of the expectations of married couples to be loving and faithful to one another, St Paul elevates the meaning of marriage to be a union of Christ and us [his Church]. In this same  tone,  St Paul is urging us to be faithful and loving members of the Church whose head is Christ himself. As I have already mentioned in my previous homilies: Christ and the Church are two sides of one coin. One side without the other, has no real value in it.  

As your priest in this parish, I am praying all of you my dear parishioners everyday as I pray the Divine Office. And I would add my prayers for all of you now  that you may continue serving God and standing up for him, in your own ways and means. I also pray that you may not lose sight of Jesus by losing or neglecting your faith in Christ, as you go on with your life’s journey. Continue coming to Mass and renew your faith. And let us all be living witnesses of Christ now in our world. Amen. 

 

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