Homily: "Do we let Jesus' values take root in our lives?"
By Mons. Peter Jeffrey:
Jesus was a big threat to people with power – all because he told simple stories like the one we have just heard. The mustard seed is a small seed that spreads quickly but stubbornly. It can take over a whole garden. According to Jesus, the Kingdom of God can grow in the same way. It can spread through all areas and relationships in our lives – quickly and stubbornly.
When we think about the teaching and example of Jesus, He shows that disciples can spread in society, working for the poor, the powerless and the outcasts. That is bad news for the people whose power and profit depends on keeping others poor and powerless. Jesus’ message is still explosive and threatening to people who abuse power and profits today. In some parts of the world even today people are becoming martyrs because they try to give voice to the marginalized who feel like outcasts.
Questions that arise for you and me are e.g. Do the values of the Gospel (or if you like Kingdom values) invade all areas of my life – family, work, friends, weekends etc.?
Do we let Jesus’ values of compassion, respect, forgiveness, and sacrifice for the powerless take root in our lives? The more we seek to do that, the more we will sprout and spread like the mustard seed. At the same time, we may find we face resistance from some – especially those who say Jesus’ words are unrealistic. We may even be called “Jesus freaks”! However the more we get to know and love Jesus, the more we will not be satisfied until we become His living witnesses in our locality.
It was St. Teresa of Avila who said –
"Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands, no feet but yours
Yours are the eyes with which Christ looks with compassion upon the world
Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good,
Yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now"
Not so long ago, a Priest from Australia asked Pope Francis –“In a situation like Australia, where secularisation is very strong, the Church’s teaching is rejected by many. My question is: How can you pass on the message of the Gospel in such an atmosphere where there is real opposition to it or for an increasing number of people, a perception that it is utterly irrelevant?” What is your secret?
Francis replied – Throughout history and in various countries the situation differs – Christians are ignored or even despised (sometimes that is with great power and strength). We are not in the only country where things are as the Australian priest described. What we are tending towards in Australia is a situation where the Church is becoming what some refer to as a sub-culture. What to do? “Very simple” Pope Francis said “Do not engage in “proselytising!” - “That is a caricature of evangelisation!” He adds “Pope Benedict XVI was very clear about that. The Church does not grow by proselytising but by ATTRACTION.
That leaves us with the challenge “How can you attract?” Through the witness of the “language of actions” which awaken curiosity because the Holy Spirit stirs the hearts of people who then ask “Why are you doing or saying that? Why do you live on these two columns on which Christianity depends – viz the Beatitudes and with the scene of the Last Judgement where the Judge will say “I was hungry and you gave me to eat etc.” from Matthew chapter 25
On the way home after Mass in the car or on foot look at the shrubs and trees – they were once tiny seeds or shoots. Ask yourself and reflect with the others – “What is something in your life that looks small but can have a big impact with Christ’s help?
*This is a copy of Mons' Homily of the 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 2018 (17/06/2018)