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Feeling sorry- and doing something about it: Our Call

Homily for 10th Sunday in Ordinary time year C 2013

  1. widow of nain's sonAbout four years ago my 14-year-old nephew was diagnosed with Leukaemia. For only a few months after the initial diagnosis, he went downhill very quickly. His elbows and knees were swelling and that made him unable to walk. My family told me this while I was at St Kilian’s parish doing my pastoral placement as part of my seminary training in Melbourne. I wanted to do something for my nephew but I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to have him hospitalized but the cost, since it needs a specialist doctor and a special treatment, was just unaffordable. To offer him a bit of a relief I wished I could only buy him a wheelchair to at least ease up his suffering until he dies. The whole family then was just expecting that he would die in a matter of days. I’ve shared that wish to one of the parishioners of St Kilian’s. News then spread among some parishioners about my wish for a wheelchair for my nephew. I believed that some good parishioners might have felt sorry for the situation and wanted to help. Before I left the parish to go back to the seminary, they organized a leaving collection for my nephew. The generosity was overwhelming. With the donations I received I wasn’t only able to purchase the wheelchair. I was able to put him into the hospital for an immediate attention. And that made so much difference not only for my nephew’s life but also it eased up the burden for the whole family as well.

  2. Friends, dear brothers and sisters, I am sharing this personal story with you because this is just a beautiful illustration of how far can our generosity, our hearts, our compassion can go. I’m also sharing this with you because this reminds us that it is not enough to just feel sorry about something without doing anything about it. My nephew is 18-year old now, still having leukaemia though, but getting on with life. If it were not for the people who felt sorry for him and had generously helped out of their own means and resources, he would never have gone this far. Without the people who have felt sorry for him and had done something for him, he would never have lived another 4 years in his life, and counting. And by the grace of God, I’m praying and hoping that one day, he would be completely cured of his leukaemia.

  3. Friends, feeling sorry about an unfortunate or desperate situation or person is good but it is much better if we do something about it. If we do something about it, it will go a long way. It will even motivate and encourage people to continue living despite the trials and difficulties they may have to face.

  4. This is what Jesus shows us in our gospel today. When Jesus saw the widow and realized that she’s on her way to bury her own and only son, he felt sorry for her. He felt sorry for her because, in Jesus’ time, widows are mostly marginalized and more than not they were being neglected. In the case of this widow, the death of her only son could put her into a worst situation and into a life of misery, because around this time, women only had very little or even don’t have rights to own property in their own name, even worst for widows. It was always in the name of the male person. If her son was alive, the widow could claim ownership to some property necessary for her and for her son to survive. But he’s dead, and now she’s on the way to bury him. Jesus realized all this. This is one of the reasons why Jesus felt sorry for her. He was so moved with pity that he couldn’t let the opportunity pass without doing anything about it. And so we heard him utter one of the most consoling words from: ‘Do not cry.’ Then he called the young man to get-up- to rise from the dead. In doing that, he showed that there is still hope and life even if things seem to be desperate and hopeless. He did even more. The gospel tells us that Jesus gave back the young man (alive) to his mother. In doing this, Jesus ‘gave’ back to the woman her own dignity, her assurance, and her rights to be able to live decently and modestly. Jesus felt sorry and he did something about it- something that enables her to live and to live her life with her son, full human life.

  5. Helping others especially the needy, the vulnerable, the homeless, etc. in ways we can is also our mission. But we need to make distinction between a mission and a career. St Paul in our Second reading today in his letter to the Galatians wrote about being a Jew- and being a practicing Jew was his ‘career’. The thing about ‘career’ is that most of the time anyway, we only do what is expected of us to do, or what we are told to do. St Paul would agree to this as he wrote: ‘How merciless I was in persecuting the Church of God…how I stood out among other Jews of my generation.’ St Paul was taking his ‘career’ seriously to show that he was a real practicing Jew. However, God has called him to let go of his career and embark on a mission. Like career, mission is also doing what is asked of us to do, as we believed to have been given to us by Jesus himself before he ascended into heaven and during the Pentecost. However, unlike career, there’s no turning back, there is no retirement, there’s holding back being a Christian.

  6. Being a Christian is not a career that we could easily put off if we are fed up with it. It is not a career that we can retire if we feel not like doing it anymore. Being a Christian is our mission- the mission to proclaim Christ, to be with Christ, to work with Christ and to work like Christ. As a mission, this must not fade; we must not retire to be a Christian. In fact, to carry out this mission we even have to face the challenges, the difficulties, even to go out of our comfort zones. This mission calls us to go beyond just feeling sorry about something by doing anything about it. As our own St Mary Mackillop would say: ‘Never see a need without doing something about it.’ (1871). And I’m so glad to hear the other day, a parishioner praying for some CEO’s of some companies or businesses who took the initiative of raising funds for the homeless by sleeping out in the open. It is just a beautiful initiative to show that they are not just feeling sorry about something or about some people but really they are doing about it. Jesus is showing us how to do it. Now it is our mission to realize it in our lives and in our world because as Christian we have the task to show to all the world that Christ is true to his words, true to his promises, and true to his love, care, and compassion for all of us. 

  7. In line with this I’d leave you with a clever yet a beautiful quote which I found on the paper the other day. I believed Jesus himself lived it out in his life, and he lived it very well. It says: ‘Aspire to inspire before you expire.’ 


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