HOMILY FOR 20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C.
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
*THEME: THE PRICE OF LOYALTY TO GOD.*
Dearly beloved, this morning as we celebrate the 20th Sunday in ordinary time, year C, Mother Church invites us to reflect on the implication of our decision to be Christians and the price we have to pay.
Therefore to help us appreciate what this means for our life, we are given the example of the prophet Jeremiah in our first reading. He was punished for criticizing the wealthy for their corruption and injustices against the poor. This reminds us that the decision to do the right thing is not always easy and without conflict.
Similarly, in our country, people who genuinely speak about the well being of this country are insulted and given political tag and are at times condemned like Jeremiah.
Beloved in Christ, this treatment meted out to Jeremiah helps us to understand why Jesus says He came to bring fire and division to the world. For wherever people hear and act on the word of God, division occurs. Therefore, we are reminded to prepare for difficult decisions and conflict if we are to stay loyal to God.
Also for Jesus, the fire He refers to is the fire of the Holy Spirit which purifies our soul from evil and saves us. Thus in the words of St. Cyril of Alexandria “the fire which Christ brings is for men’s salvation and profit. The fire here is the saving message of the gospel and the power of its commandments.
Beloved, though loyalty to God will always come at the cost of rejection, abandonment and punishment, the second reading tells us not to give up. We are thus encouraged to focus on Jesus Christ and on those who have witnessed gracefully to the faith. The Christian is therefore in a participatory race, not in a spectator sport. He must pay the price for being in the race and his focus should always be on Jesus.
Finally, loyalty to God demands that we speak out against the ills of society without fear or favour but with concern for the dignity of the human person. However, the price for speaking out should not make us cowards, for God is always there to rescue us if we work genuinely and wholeheartedly for Him.