Homily for 24th Sunday in Year B Ordinary time 2012
Friends, I might have mentioned this already in my previous homilies, but it is worth repeating. When I entered the seminary almost 12 years ago, I wasn’t really sure what my motives were. All I can remember is that I was wanting to become a priest, in fact I was really dying for it, not literally though. So as I went on with my seminary formation I always had to ask myself: ‘Why do I want to become a priest?’
Many reasons have come and gone. Security was one. Family expectations also played a great role. In my little village in the Philippines, having a priest in the family is just like marrying a beautiful princess or a queen. Social expectations also had emerged as a top contender. A priest always has a special place on the table of families, on the public events, even to play ‘judge’ in a dancing contest even if the priest has two left feet.
Overtime though, I realized that to be a priest is not all about living in people’s expectations. Being a priest is someone who acts in the person of Christ the head. Being a priest is one who according to Lacordaire:
‘[Lives] in the midst of the world; without wishing its pleasures; To be a member of each family, yet belonging to none; To share all suffering; to penetrate all secrets; To heal all wounds; to go from men to God and offer Him their prayers; To return from God to men to bring pardon and hope; To have a heart of fire for Charity, and a heart of bronze for Chastity; To teach and to pardon, console and bless always.’
4.It takes time for me to realize this. It takes time for me to go beyond the expectation of people in me. It takes time for me to know and understand my mission in this life. It was so because my vision was clouded with many social expectations, personal ideals and unrealistic goals. And I thought that was all there was being a priest. However, this does not mean that I would no longer live in the people’s expectations of me. It is part and parcel of our humanity. It would be hypocritical if I would dare not to. In fact, living out with the expectations of people and the society is helpful and beneficial. If it were not, we would not have order in our society and harmony in our social milieu. However, we could not just continue living in those expectations to the extent of losing our own identity and mission in the world. So we need to ask the question often: Who am I? What is my purpose in this world?
5. Pope Benedict XVI, in his Catechism for youth or YouCat, said it quite simply: He wrote: ‘We are here on earth in order to know and to love God, to do good according to his will, and to go someday to heaven.’ [(#1 YouCat). This is not only our purpose. Yet this is one of the reasons why God sent his own Son to us- to serve as our way, our truth and our life’ (Jn 14:6) in living, in loving and in serving Him. Jesus knew who he is, what he needs to do and what his ideals are and he put all his heart into it. Yes, Jesus was also caught up with the social expectations of the messiah, and he could have easily got into this, but he knew who he really is. In fact, he not only knew who he is, He also revealed the real trait of a Messiah, a messiah who is not what people expect, a messiah who would rather choose to die for his people to live, and for his followers to learn from, a messiah who would rather be a suffering servant that we can hear from our first Reading today, than to make his people suffer the eternal consequence of sin and the loss of eternal life in heaven.
6. Jesus was true to himself and to his mission. And so are we? What can we do then? St James in our Second Reading today again shows us that he was indeed very practical. He urges us to express our faith in action. He urges us to exercise our faith and action in harmony with each other. There are many ways to express our faith in action. We just have to look around, opened our windows and doors to people in need, ring someone whom we believe needing someone to talk to, or listen to someone who are needing listening ears.
7. We just have to remember, we can only express our faith in action more effectively and more productively if we are true to ourselves and our mission, and only if really grounded in Christ. There is not much benefit for us and for others if we just extend help because our society expects us to, or because this is what is expected of us. But if we stand to who we are, no matter what people expect of us, or think or say of us, we can assure God is on our side…as he was, as he is and always will be with Jesus.
8. So let’s pray that like Jesus, we would stick to our real selves and go on with our mission in living, loving and serving God and others. Amen.