Homily for Twenty-fifth Sunday B21 Sep 2018, by Sermons in
We see Jesus in our gospel passage this morning making his way gradually towards Jerusalem and the cross by implication. He came down from the mountain with his apostles and made their way through Galilee to Capernaum. He did not want anyone else to know about their movement because he made his apostles understand why he came into the world. He said, the Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men; they will put him to death, and three days after he has been put to death, he will rise again. This whole idea of rising from the dead made no sense to the apostles, and they were afraid to ask for clarifications.
St. Paul tells us in his letter to Philippians 3:10 that all he wanted was to know Jesus Christ and the power of his resurrection; that power of the resurrection is what Jesus wanted the apostles to know when he told them about his coming passion and rising from the dead.
We all are here this morning because of that resurrection power because Jesus rose from the dead. Any Christian who has no true knowledge of the resurrection power of Jesus Christ is yet to be a Christian; it is our knowledge of Jesus Christ and our faith in his resurrection power that makes us Christians. Anyone who does not believe in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ is lost; he or she pursues powerless powers. The apostles found themselves in such a situation; they spent their time and energy, arguing about ‘greatness’ that is so powerless. When Jesus told them about his coming passion, death, and resurrection, they argued about which of them was the greatest. They did not understand the resurrection at that moment, so they concerned themselves with earthly positions and fame. They failed to realize that greatness is not found in possessions, power, positions, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service, and character.
The quest for power, fame, and wealth has destroyed so many people, some have sold their souls to the devil in exchange for these passing things. St. James tells us in our second reading that wherever you find jealousy and ambition, you find disharmony and wicked things of every kind being done… There is so much wickedness in our world today, so much hate, jealousy, and betrayal because of the inordinate quest for power, wealth, and fame. People want to dominate; by all means, they want to be in control, be recognized, and therefore are ready to sacrifice their Christian faith in thanksgiving to the devil.
The apostles argued among themselves about which of them was the greatest, and Jesus apparently knew the content of their argument but pretended and kept his silence. At Capernaum, when they were in the house, Jesus asked his apostles; what were you arguing about on the road? They said nothing. They may have answered nothing out of fear or shame, but they were actually right because their arguments were about nothing. The greatness and position they argued about can only come from our knowledge and our faith in the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. This greatness can only be achieved when we lay down our own strength, ambitions, jealousies, and weaknesses at the foot of the cross to put on the resurrection power of Jesus Christ. That is what Jesus tried to make the apostles understand when he then took a little child, set him in front of them, puts his arms around him, and said to them, ‘Anyone who welcomes one of these little children in my name, welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.
Jesus’ choice of a little child sends a powerful message, a message for the apostles, us, and generations after us. A little child is innocent and submissive; he depends on his parents for food, drink, and everything. And that is what Christ wants from us; to be innocent of heart, to be submissive, to depend on him, and to worry not. Little children bother not about the next meal source because they trust the parents to provide that. That childlike trust is what Jesus wants us to develop, to trust him and not to worry ourselves to death. He says; And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much clothe you, O men of little faith? (Mt. 628-30). This is not a call to a lazy life; it is rather a call to work hard, to service, and to trust in God.
To be rich is not a sin; God blessed Abraham and made him rich; God restored everything Job had lost and made him richer and happier than he was. These men were rich yet remained men of God; they never went out of their way to be rich. No matter how much of these material goods we have, if we have no Christ, we have nothing, but with Christ and the power of his resurrection, we have everything.
Today, let us approach God in our nothingness, in our littleness, in our sinfulness and innocence of heart to ask for the grace to know the effect of the resurrection power in our lives.