Fr. Roger J. Landry
Visitation Convent of the Sisters of Life, Manhattan
Wednesday of the 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Year I
September 2, 2015
Col 1:1-8, Ps 52, Lk 4:38-44
To listen to an audio recording of this homily, please click here:
The following points were attempted in the homily:
- In today’s Gospel we learn something about Jesus and about how we’re to follow him. We enter into what we could call a “day in the life of Jesus,” ponder his self-identity, and learn what in him we’re called according to our own circumstances to emulate.
- Even after an exhausting time preaching and healing in the synagogue, when he arrived at Simon’s house after a long Sabbath, he cured his mother in law of a severe fever and then the entire city was bringing the sick to Peter’s house. It would have been easy for Jesus to have asked to rest, or even, to shorten his work, to do a “mass healing,” which was totally within his power. But the Good Shepherd, who knows his sheep by name, healed every one individually, because he had come not principally as a doctor to cure physical maladies but as a Savior to cure us of our spiritual cancers through a life of grace and faith. Simon’s mother-in-law shows us the purpose of health when, as soon as she was cured of a severe fever (think 103 degrees), she got up to serve others. She was essentially considered to be on her death bed, yet once she was healed, rather than taking it easy she began taking care. She teaches us that our health is giving to us so that we may serve others, as Jesus serves, and she served. When Jesus gives us a similar grace — such as when we’ve been blessed by health without even needing to be cured! — we’re called to use that gift to build his kingdom by serving each subject Christ invites into that kingdom.
- It seemed Jesus had cured and met with the individuals healed all night. In the morning, he sought to escape at dawn in order to pray and the crowds found him. He then told us something really important: that he had come to proclaim the kingdom of God and for that reason needed to go to the other towns as well: “For this purpose I have been sent,” he said. He saw himself as essentially a missionary of the Father. Jesus could have easily set up shop in Capernaum and had people come to him, but he knew that the blind, the crippled, and so many others would never make the journey. He had come to go in search of the lost sheep and that’s what he was intent to do. This teaches us that we, like Jesus, must get out of our homes, even of our parishes, and go hunt people down for God, to share with them the gift of salvation we have received in Christ. Pope Francis in Evangelii Gaudium said that he wants us to get to the point that each of us has a similar missionary identity, to say, “I am a mission in this world. This is the reason why I am here.”
- St. Paul shows us this true Christian identity and authentic Christian zeal. He announced at the beginning of his letter to the Church in Colossae, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” He knew that God’s will was for him to be an “apostle,” literally “one sent out.” He knew that the purpose of his life was to be on the move, to go to other towns, to bring Christ to the Gentiles. Even when he was in a Roman prison cell with arms fastened to a wall, it didn’t stop him from sharing the Gospel. He dictated a letter to the Church of Colossae — which by this point was a small and relatively insignificant place of Asia Minor — because he couldn’t stop sharing the Gospel.
- In today’s passage, St. Paul described various aspects of the Gospel that he, and we, are called to bring to the world. He said:
- It’s a word of Truth in which we free people from ignorance and living a lie.
- It’s a word of good news, just like the Angels brought to the Shepherds on Christmas morning.
- It’s meant for all the world, for everyone, including Jews, including Muslims, including secularists, including drug dealers, prostitutes, abusers and everyone you and I know, all our family members, all our friends, all our work colleagues or fellow students, all our neighbors.
- It’s fruitful, containing within it the power to change our lives 30, 60 or 100 ways or more, and make us overflow with love, just as St. Paul praises the charity of those in Colossae in today’s passage who had received the Gospel with faith and responded with love for others.
- It’s a word of grace; it’s not principally about what God expects of us but what he offers us — and he gives us himself.
- Finally it’s a word that’s meant to be passed on, just as Epaphras passed it on to those in Colossae, Paul passed it on to so many Churches, Jesus brought it to the towns and villages, and each of us is called to pass on to others.
- At the end of every Mass, Jesus through his priests or deacons repeats his valedictory commissioning, “Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.” We’re called not to remain in our own houses waiting for people to come to us, but, like Jesus, like Paul, like Epaphras, like Pope Francis, to go bring the good news to surrounding houses, towns, villages and beyond. To the extent that we’re not in bed with a severe fever or worse, that’s the fundamental reason why we can walk and talk. May the Lord who gives us the Gospel of grace give us all the help we need to fulfill this mission faithfully!
The readings for today’s Mass are:
and Timothy our brother,
to the holy ones and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae:
grace to you and peace from God our Father.
when we pray for you,
for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus
and the love that you have for all the holy ones
because of the hope reserved for you in heaven.
Of this you have already heard
through the word of truth, the Gospel, that has come to you.
Just as in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing,
so also among you,
from the day you heard it and came to know the grace of God in truth,
as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow slave,
who is a trustworthy minister of Christ on your behalf
and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
PS 52:10, 11
I, like a green olive tree
in the house of God,
Trust in the mercy of God
forever and ever.
R. I trust in the mercy of God for ever.
I will thank you always for what you have done,
and proclaim the goodness of your name
before your faithful ones.
R. I trust in the mercy of God for ever.
Simon’s mother-in-law was afflicted with a severe fever,
and they interceded with him about her.
He stood over her, rebuked the fever, and it left her.
She got up immediately and waited on them.
He laid his hands on each of them and cured them.
And demons also came out from many, shouting, “You are the Son of God.”
But he rebuked them and did not allow them to speak
because they knew that he was the Christ.At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place.
The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him,
they tried to prevent him from leaving them.
But he said to them, “To the other towns also
I must proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God,
because for this purpose I have been sent.”
And he was preaching in the synagogues of Judea.