Deacon Donnie Geaga, from the San Bernardino Filipino Cursillo Movement, has kindly shared his homily with us from last Sunday’s Mass. It is entitled, “The Light of Christ in the World of Darkness”, and is well worth reading. You will find the full text of his excellent homily below.
Homily on “The Light of Christ in the World of Darkness”
3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Is 8:23, 9:3 1Cor 1:10-13, 17 Mt 4:12-23 1/26/2014
I Introduction Do you agree with the saying, “If you look for the bad in a person, you will always find the bad and if you look for the good in a person, you will certainly find the good”? Last Christmas, a 6-year old child sitting on the lap of Santa was asked, “What do you want for Christmas?” Without blinking an eye, the child replies, “A better life!” Amazing, isn’t it? From the eyes of a 6-year old who hardly observes the good and bad around her, we would think, she sees the need for a better life, not wanting anything else a child would usually ask for.
Because very often we, you and me, would always focus on what is bad, not just in a person but in our world. This includes our environment - our home, our community, our school, the church we belong to and the company we work for. We constantly whine about ineffective government policies, corrupt and self-serving politicians, biased news and print media, high crime rate, the prohibitive cost of fuel and basic commodities, unemployment, loss of homes and so on and so forth. All we see and think about is how awfully bad is the world we live in.
II The World of Darkness On top of all of these politics of personal destruction are the natural disasters like tsunamis, earthquakes, tornados, snow winter blasts, hurricanes and typhoons, etc., that have caused great loss of lives and properties. Not to mention the countless people living in poverty, deprived of their basic necessities, the marginalized, the oppressed, the unattended – the unloved. Public moral issues such as abortion, birth control, same-sex marriages, mercy killing or euthanasia, etc., have caused great division among people in many countries. It seems hopeless for most of us. We believe we live in a world of darkness.
We are tired and weary of all these politics. The real need is to have vision, to see ways and means of making our world a better place to live in and to work on what we can do rather than just complain and blame each other for all these problems. This is what the 6-yr old was asking for – a better life, a better world.
In his time, Jesus lived in a troubled world, which in many respects, was even worse than the world we live in today. Justice was never served. The kings, pharaohs and emperors were actually tyrants who lorded it over the people, making them their slaves, abusing and persecuting them. Roman legions oppressed the people while living in luxury and wanton abundance, oblivious to the plight of the people in need.
Then God sent the Christ Jesus to give us vision and the message of hope, faith and love starting with ourselves. God in Jesus Christ tells us to take charge of ourselves first before we can take charge of others. As stewards of our body and soul we have to make something good and decent out of ourselves. As the saying goes, “Life is God’s gift to us and what we do with our lives is our gift to God.”
This is the fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah in the first reading of today which says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light, upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shown.” (Is 9:3)
III The Light of Christ in Our Lives Even if we live in the darkness of our sins, Jesus provides the light for our souls when he sees a repentant heart. He loves us so much that he readily looks for the good in us and then forgives and forgets so that we can walk in his light.
In Matthew’s Gospel of today, upon hearing the imprisonment of John the Baptist, Jesus decided to make his move as part of the beginnings of his public ministry. Ironically, the end of the time of hope becomes the beginning of a new and glorious era.
He begins his ministry in Capernaum, the farthest land in Israel -the land of darkness, a shabby location filled with pagans and those disobedient to Jewish laws. This is the kind of people Jesus calls to himself; people who eke out their existence on the edge of life. Pope Francis must love the Gospel Theme of today because it is in places like these that the Lord’s Mission is urgently needed.
Sounds familiar? When we are burdened with problems like the loss of a job and/or home or the care for a very-ill loved one or the decision to have abortion to avoid scandal or other challenges that we cannot overcome that the world is crumbling down on us, isn’t it time to turn to God to seek his forgiveness and to ask for his help? God in Jesus Christ, came to heal the sick and not the righteous. Jesus begins from things that are broken and in need of repair. He is greater than all of our transgressions.
Jesus preaches to us saying, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” (Mt 4:17) He is telling us that a better world is within our reach and within our grasp. He continuous to say, “Reform your lives and believe in the Good News. A better world begins when we begin to change our personal lives to seek the face of God.
Also, Jesus calls us in the ordinariness of our lives, in places where we are or when we seem distant from God. No matter how dark our lives are, Jesus comes to us and calls us to his light. This was how he called his first disciples who were caught up in the tasks of ordinary life. So Jesus calls us in the state of life in which we exist.
IV Conclusion So brothers and sisters, as true followers of Christ, we always remember that Repentance is central to our lives. Let us npw bow our heads in prayer. “Lord God, teach us to be repentant. Help us to soften our hardened hearts whenever we offend you and hurt other people whether verbally, emotionally or physically. Make us realize that in doing so, we also diminish our personal dignity and pride. Guide us return to your light to let your light shine upon our world to glorify you, by making a firm resolve to amend our lives and follow Christ’s teachings. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.”
Deacon Donnie Geaga St. Peter & St. Paul, Alta Loma Diocese of San Bernardino