Friday, July 8, 2016

Fifteenth 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 Teacher

Most of us who have gone to college or even just high school had this experience where a teacher was asked by a student a certain question and the teacher commented: "That is a very good question. We will answer that in later lessons." What the teacher did in effect was to postpone his or her answer to the question either because he or she did not want to be disturbed in his or her train of thought or because he or she did not know the answer and had to do some reading to get the answer.

But this reaction of our teacher is also typical of us. When we have a question in our mind we look for the answer to that question somewhere. This is because there are so many things we do not know and we have to do some searching and researching in order to get to the answer of our question.

But the teacher whose story we heard of in our Gospel reading today did not have to tell his students that he would give the answer to their questions later because he had to do some research on the question. The reason was because he knew all the answers to all the questions in the world. In this sense he was a unique teacher. He knew all the answers. In fact in some churches he is simply labeled as the Answer.

On top of a cement structure near a church in Manila some years ago there was a sign in big letters, CHRIST IS THE ANSWER. Yes, this teacher in our Gospel reading is still the answer. He does not need to do some research to answer a question, even the most complicated or most difficult of questions.

Jesus is not just the best teacher. He is the teacher.  When we say he is the best teacher. we are comparing him with other teachers. But he cannot be compared with other teachers because he was a unique teacher. We can only make contrasts, not comparisons.

He is different from other teachers because he knows all the answers to all the questions we can think of. This does not apply only to religious matters. It applies to all sciences, religious or not. This applies to all the questions in astronomy, physics, biology, chemistry, mathematics, and the rest of all the sciences.

He knows all the answers because he is also the creator of all. As John says, by him all things were made and without him nothing was made (1:3). And Paul says Jesus is the one "in whom every treasure of wisdom and knowledge is hidden" (Colossians 2:3). We know only a very tiny fraction of creation. But Jesus knows all because he created everything.

In our second reading today we heard that "in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible." Jesus as teacher knows all, the things we see and those which we do not see.

Jesus is also unique among all teachers because even before we ask him a question he knows already what is in our mind. In our Gospel reading before the scholar of the law, or theologian as we would call him today, asked his question Jesus knew already his question. The psalmist exclaims, "Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know the whole of it" (139:4).

All other teachers do not know the questions in the minds of their students. At best they can make a good guess. But the teacher Jesus does not make a guess. He knows the precise question. He is the only teacher who does not guess.

Thirdly, Jesus is a unique teacher because all other teachers give out ideas, only ideas, but Jesus does not only give out ideas. He gives life. All other teachers show us how to live and live better. Jesus shows us life itself. He gives us life. In fact he is life itself. Many of us have memorized his statement, "I am the way, the truth and the life" (John 14:6).

When the scholar in our Gospel reading asked Jesus what must he do to inherit eternal life, he did not realize he was in front of this eternal life.

Jesus is the teacher who gives us eternal life, shows us the way to obtain it, and answers our deepest yearnings. Vatican Two succinctly expressed this when it stated, "The Lord (Jesus) is the goal of human history, the focal point of the longings of history and of civilization, the center of the human race, the joy of every heart, and the answer to all its yearnings." (THE CHURCH TODAY, 45).

The scholar did not realize that the answer to his question was Jesus himself.

Today Jesus is still that kind of teacher, a teacher who knows all things, who knows our questions even before we ask them, and who gives us life, the life that really perfectly satisfies us because he is this life. He exercises his teaching ministry through the Holy Spirit, the Bible and his followers. Let us listen to this teacher, Jesus, our joy.

Let us bow our heads. Jesus, you are the unique teacher who knows all including the questions in our mind. You are the teacher who gives life. We accept you as our life. Live in us. Make us your teachers to show to others that you are our real teacher. Amen.

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