14th Sunday, Ordinary - Homily
One of the greatest examples of faith that I've seen involves a friend of mine who recently became Catholic. She is about my age, so she is a young woman… She was Greek Orthodox which is a very cultural faith. If one leaves the Greek Orthodox Church, it's as if you're not even Greek anymore. And, for my friend, this has been the reaction of her family. She has truly believed for a few years now that Christ is calling her to a deeper relationship with Him… in the Catholic Church. But, she has received little or no support from her family. It has been very hard for her to receive such criticism from those who are closest to her. And yet, she has continued to grow closer to Him. While it has been very hard, she has shown such beautiful and powerful faith.
We have heard much about faith in the Gospels the last couple of weeks. We heard about the lack of faith of the Apostles in the boat with Jesus. Then, last week, we heard about the great faith of the woman with the hemorrhage. Today, we hear that Jesus was amazed at the lack of faith of his own people. So, what does it mean to have faith? What does it mean to lack faith? As Christians, it comes down to the question of Jesus Christ. If we have faith, we believe in Him. If we lack faith, we don't believe in Him.
Now, the story of faith begins in the Old Testament. We see how God sends men and women to be his prophets. Holy men and women like Ezekiel from the first reading were sent by God to bring His message of love to his people. But, the prophets were rejected! God's people didn't believe that they were sent by God, and didn't listen to them. The story leads to Christ…God sends his only Son to his people so that they might believe in Him. And, as we just heard in the Gospel, Christ is rejected! He is rejected by his own people, the people from his hometown. They represent the people of Israel, God's people. God's own people don't believe in Him.
We might look at this story, and think, 'how could they reject Jesus? How could they not believe in Him?' But, we ourselves reject Christ in our own lives. We reject Him whenever we reject Scripture…or Tradition…or the Magisterium of the Church. We reject Christ whenever we don’t believe in the Sacraments…and the grace and power that they contain, especially the Eucharist. Whenever we don't love our neighbor or serve the poor, we reject Christ. Jesus says in Matthew 25 that "whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me".
Now, if we look at our lives of faith, and we see that we have been lacking faith, can God forgive us? Absolutely, in the Sacrament of Confession. It is the Sacrament of mercy. God forgives our lack of faith and restores our faith. He gives us a new life of faith! A life that is centered on Jesus in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is c.o.o.l.: center of our lives. When we receive the Eucharist, we are filled with faith; our faith is nourished and strengthened. It gives us the strength and courage to be like my friend who made Him number one in her life!
It helps us to believe that He is the Risen One…the Son of God…our Savior. We believe that He has power over all things in our lives. We believe that He is with us, helping us tackle all of our problems. We believe that He creates us, saves us, and can change us. We believe that He loves us with an unending love. God's love for each one of us does not end!
So, this day and this week, may we put our faith in Christ. Let us be men and women of faith this week. May we be open to Him and believe in Him this day. May we know His great love for us this day.