12th Sunday in OT A--Father's Day Weekend

Reasons of Not Afraid to Follow Christ

Joke: In a discussion with God, a man asked: God, how long is a minute in heaven? “It’s a million years,” replied God. “How much is a penny in heaven, God?” God said, “A penny is a million dollars in heaven.” The man then asked God, “Would you give me a penny please?” God said, “You need to wait for a minute son.”

Nothing on earth would be compared to what is in heaven. In other words, do not be afraid when we follow Christ. In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds those who follow him not to be afraid because of the following reasons: First, do not be afraid because when they hurt you and harm you, you are to share the suffering with Christ, the Son of God. Second, do not be afraid because they can only kill your body, but they cannot kill your soul. Third, do not be afraid because Christ’s followers are protected. Whatever happens to us is in God’s plan just as all the hairs in our head are already counted. Lastly, do not be afraid because when we acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ, our God, before others, Christ will acknowledge us before his heavenly Father. Is it worth to share Christ’s suffering when someone tries to hurt us or to harm us because of following Christ? Is it encouraged to follow Christ because no one can destroy our soul except Christ himself? Just as Christ prayed to God the Father to protect his disciples from the evil ones in this world, would he not pray to God the Father to protect us in following him in this walk of life? Finally, he promised to acknowledge us in front of his heavenly Father if we acknowledge his presence in this walk of life, have you and I had courage and strength to acknowledge him in this walk of life? How would we follow Christ in this walk of life, especially when we are facing this pandemic of covid19? Would we follow Christ by putting our pictures in the pews in the Church, and the priest celebrates Mass by himself looking at those pictures? What does it mean Communion? Does Eucharistic celebration offer by oneself, with oneself, and for oneself or for the whole community, with the whole community and by the whole community?

A British doctor, Sheila Cassidy, was imprisoned and tortured in Chile in the 1970s recounted her experiences at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. As a young medical doctor graduated from Oxford University Medical School in the 1963 and later befriended a Chilean surgeon, she decided to go to Chile to practice medicine. One of her friends, a Jesuit priest, asked her to treat a political opponent of Pinochet’s regime who had been hit by a bullet while fleeing the secret police. The worst thing that Cassidy thought could happen to her if she were caught treating this man was that she would be expelled from the country. “It never occurred to me that I could be tortured,” Cassidy said. Cassidy was caught while treating the man. She was beaten, blindfolded and taken to a detention facility, where she was stripped and tortured with electrical shocks. In her first few days of torture, she constantly prayed for her release, but after a few days, her prayer changed. “After a few days it came to me that a better way would be to say, ‘Do what you like. I’m yours,” she said. In this very moment, Cassidy wrote a blank check for her life to God, and it brought her a tremendous sense of peace. In this very moment, she really understood the words of Jesus mentioned in today’s Gospel, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.”

Have you ever been afraid or fearful of anything in life? We might not be afraid nor fearful of anything in life since we live in a blessed and freedom land where human dignity is some protected. We might not be afraid nor fearful of covid19, but we need to keep a distance to help others who might be vulnerable to the virus. When I prepare couple for marriage, I came across the question: Is it okay to watch pornography? Some individuals do believe and answer in that it’s okay to watch pornography. Perhaps, the words of Jesus haven’t sunk into our beings when he mentioned somewhere in Scripture, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your members than to have your whole body thrown into Gehenna” (Mt 5:29). Why is that pornography wrong? It’s simply because sexual love is a gift meant for marriage alone. “Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties” (CCC 2354). It seems that in order to understand the words of Jesus, not just by reading it alone, but more important is to listen and so to allow the word of God touch us. For example, we read in scripture the words, “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” suddenly our mind gears us to something else, reminds us of something that might be related to an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. Stop what we were reading and followed that thought. Perhaps, it was a moment that we allowed the word of God sunk into our being and touched us. After that thought, we might be brought back to reality, and before we go back to continue to read, take a moment to thank the Lord for that insight, that revelation, and promise him to change, to fix or to be better. Please, it is not just about reading sentence after sentence, page after page, book after book, and divorce still divorce, cheating still cheating, gossiping still gossiping, and many other crooked ways of life. There is only one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and God himself. There is only one Gospel of Jesus Christ inspired Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John as the Catholic Church teaches us to put together in words. To whom and what have we been inspired on our Christian journey? Who have we really followed in this walk of life?

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminds his disciples and to each and every one of us that fear no one in which I believe all our fathers can testify for this since they are really the protectors and providers for their families. They have no fear to work hard to provide the best living condition for their own families. They sacrifice to go to bed early so to wake up early to go to work to help financially for their families. Anything that heavy lifting or dangerous fixes, they are always there to face the challenges.

As children, we are in debt to our mothers who carried us in their wombs for nine months and labored us in pain and hurt. With our fathers, they instilled in us the responsibilities and duties for ourselves and our own families. Our mothers feed us with foods and drinks from their excellent cooking skills, but our fathers feed us with their words of teaching and good model examples of life. In any debt that we have owned in this work of life, one debt that we’ll never be able to pay back is the debt to our parents. In this Father’s Day, remember to say to your dad, “I love you dad, and I’m in debt to you.”

 

Weekend Written Homilies 2020

Weekend Written Homilies 2020


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