Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Welcome to read homilies for the Sundays of the year. These are sample homilies which you can read with devotion. You may use them in your own homilies without asking my permission. You may also change or edit these to fit them to your audience. A unique quality of these homilies is that they are Christ-filled. From beginning to end they present to us some aspect of Jesus so that beholding his glory we “are being transformed from glory to glory into his very image” (2 Corinthians 3:18 NAB).

The Royal Vagabond

There are some statements of Jesus that he did not want us to take literally. The most noted of these is his statement that if your eye is causing you to sin then you "gouge it out and throw it away" (Matthew 5:29 NAB). Fortunately no one in history has followed this command of Jesus literally, although we have the case of the very learned priest in the third century, Origen, who, according to the historian Eusebius, castrated himself to avoid temptations related to sex.

In our Gospel reading today you heard another statement of Jesus that he did not mean literally. It is this: In reply to a man who expressed a desire to follow him wherever he would go, Jesus answered him, "Foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to rest his head." (Luke 9:58). He did have a place to rest his head, either in a house as in Bethany or in a boat as in the Lake of Galilee.  
Such an expression is an example of what is termed Semitic hyperbole to emphasize a particular truth. "Semitic" means that the expression is part of the Semitic language, the language of Semites or the descendants of Sem, one of Noah's sons. The Jews belong to one of the Semitic tribes.

In English we also have such expressions that are not to be taken literally. When we say that it is raining cats and dogs, we do not mean that cats and dogs are falling from the sky. We mean that the rain is very heavy.

What Jesus meant was that he was always on the move, unlike foxes who return to their dens and birds who find shelter in their nests. Humanly speaking he had no idea where he would sleep during the night, whether it would be in a house that would welcome him or under a tree or in the open space of a desert. He was always on the go.

He was always traveling. Note what Luke the writer said in the beginning of chapter 8 of his Gospel. He said that Jesus journeyed through towns and villages preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. There is a preposition in the original Greek which gives us a better picture of Jesus' journey in these towns and villages. This preposition is "kata". We have this preposition as a prefix in English words like "catalog". The basic meaning of catalog is that it is a complete list. Luke wrote that Jesus went kata towns and villages, meaning town after town and village after village in a thorough manner without omitting some on the way.

This is the picture we have of Jesus. He went to town after town, village after village, until he covered all of them. Then if time permitted he repeated the process thoroughly. He did this systematically. In Luke chapter 10 we are told that Jesus sent seventy two of his disciples in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. This meant 36 pairs and of course 36 towns and villages. This alone would take much of Jesus' time traveling to these places. Since Jesus only walked and he had to stop traveling during the Sabbath days, going to the places where his disciples went ahead could have taken a good part of the year.

No wonder he said he had nowhere to lay his head, because every night he rested in a different place.

Jesus did not stay in one place most of the time, except at the beginning of his ministry when he stayed in Capernaum, a town by the lake of Galilee and towards the end of his ministry when he slept in Bethany but during the day he would be in Jerusalem. Besides these two very brief periods he was always on the go.

And in his journeys Jesus walked. He only rode on an ass when he entered Jerusalem for the last time.

What a contrast we have here of Jesus' way of ministering and of those of our church leaders. Jesus was always on the go. Our church leaders are stationary, they have a fine place to rest their heads. Even our so called missionaries do stay in a particular place for some time, a so called mission station or mission parish. In comparison to our church leaders Jesus was a vagabond, but one with a purpose and direction.

Some time ago a picture of Jesus went around in the Internet with a message. The message said that Jesus was visiting your house. You were then encouraged to pass this picture to other users of the Internet. The lesson was that you were supposed to welcome Jesus in your home and let him stay there.

But that was only a picture of Jesus. He is now in the right hand of God managing his affairs throughout the world. He sees all of us in an instant. But he is still looking here and there for hearts that would welcome him.

The image in Revelation 3:20 has been used or over used already. But that is the truth, not only for the Christians in Laodicea where this particular letter was addressed to but for all Christians. Here are the words of Jesus: "Here I stand, knocking at the door. If anyone hears me calling and opens the door, I will enter his house and have supper with him, and he with me."

Jesus still goes around seeking a place where he can lay his head. Where this be your heart?

Let us bow down our heads to pray. Lord Jesus, you were the king who went around proclaiming your kingdom. Let your kingdom truly come in my heart. There have a place to rest your head. Amen.

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