homilies

14th Ordinary Sunday - Year C
Luke 10:1-12, 17-20


We are called to bring peace to others

Jesus in today’s Gospel told His disciples, when you go to a home you should first say: “Peace to this house.” All of us want peace in our homes and in our hearts. And this is precisely what Jesus is offering us. At the same time, we need to remember that Jesus is also asking us to bring this Good News of peace to other people in our lives.

However, there seems to be a problem. The problem is not because people do not want to hear God’s message of peace. The problem is that many of us seem to be quite reluctant in bringing this peace of Christ to others. That is why Jesus says in today’s Gospel: “The harvest is rich but the labourers are few.”

Why then are we so reluctant? It seems to me, the more likely reason is that we feel we should find enough peace in our own hearts first before we feel we can bring the peace of Christ to others. While it may be true that many of us may have our own concerns and problems of life, this does not necessarily mean that because of this we cannot bring God’s peace to others. No, God’s peace can still be brought to others in spite of our concerns and problems of life. This truth may be clearer if we see it in the light of a true story that a good friend of mine told me recently.

James (not his real name) and his wife are simple working class people. They were not Catholics. They have three boys and a girl. The girl is the youngest. Let us call her Julie (again not her real name). Julie is physically and mentally handicapped since birth. Her bones are all soft and she has to be fed with only liquid food. She is totally dependent on others for her needs. Daily, Julie’s father James would come home from work and would feed her, talk to her, bathe her, watch TV with her and would explain the meaning of the programme to her.

Everyone in the family also took their turns to care for Julie. Julie’s three brothers too all loved her very much. They would wheel her out the house, bring her for car rides, particularly to Orchard Road during the festive seasons when it is so beautifully and brightly lighted. Mom and dad would arrange their work in such a way that if one is out on shift work the other would be caring for Julie at home. Everyone felt they should be responsible to care for Julie when they are at home, instead of leaving her to the maid. So, both mom and dad had very little sleep. Caring for Julie in this way was taking a toll on mom and dad, and the strain was becoming quite unbearable; everyone was very tired and even quite tense at times. Mom and dad had to continue to work to support the family financially; there was no other way out. Yet, everyone in the family knew that the care and love they were giving to Julie must continue, even though this meant that all their free time was to be sacrificed for Julie.

At the age of six, and at several other times, Julie nearly died of pneumonia. The constant prayer and hope of the family, especially of James was that their Julie would one day be able to know and respond to their love. At around the age of eight, Julie uttered, her first word, “papa.” James was deeply touched and he realized that his prayers were answered. Soon after that, James and his family were baptized. Julie eventually died at the age of fourteen. As she was dying, although she could not speak, tears rolled down her cheeks because she knew very well how much everyone loved her. It was as though she was saying to her loved ones, thank you for all your love and care. Everyone was very sad to see their beloved Julie die. And yet, everyone, especially the parents of Julie, knew deep in their hearts that all those fourteen years of very hard work and sacrifice to care for Julie, and to see their three boys through university education were all very worthwhile.

My sisters and brothers, Jesus in today’s Gospel wants us to bring His peace to others. He reminds us that: “The harvest is rich, but the labourers are few.” Yet, many of us still feel we should find enough peace in our own hearts first, before we feel we can bring the peace of Christ to others. We know from Julie’s family, that this is not necessarily true. This is because God’s peace can still be brought to others in spite of our concerns and problems of life.
The true story of Julie’s family shows us in a very real way how our life’s concerns and problems can truly demand a lot from us. Yet, what we can learn from Julie’s family is that they did not allow their problems to overcome them. They faced their problems courageously. They were not only positive about life. Most importantly, they knew they were never alone because they knew God was always with them. They knew their strength came from God. They therefore knew that it is precisely because of this that they were able to love their dear Julie so unconditionally.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, Mother Teresa once said: “Many today are starving for ordinary bread, but that is not the only kind of hunger there is. There is another hunger - the hunger to be wanted, to be loved, to be treated with dignity and respect.” And, also to be accepted as we are: human beings; precious in God’s eyes, even though we may not be bright, beautiful or able bodied. “Homelessness too is not just a need to have a house made of bricks, but the homelessness of being rejected, of being unwanted,” of being unloved by society is even more tragic and painful.

These are the harsh realities of life and of society that many of us have to face. But, my brothers and sisters, to be a Christian and thus a disciple of Christ, Our Lord says we must be different from people who do not know Him. If we are privileged to have the gift of faith, then we must also be different. Our love for others must be more radical. We cannot simply be contented with being mediocre of the Church and members of the society. We cannot justify our lack of love for others simply because others too are not too concerned of the sufferings of society and the people around us. If our Christian faith truly means much to us, then our life must be more than ourselves and our own needs. Our lives must bring peace to people around us.

Let me simply conclude by reminding ourselves that, like us, millions of people are hungering for peace in their hearts. Indeed, the harvest is rich. And, we who have the gift of faith in Christ have the secret of this peace. Why? This is because the true and deepest peace that all of us and everyone is longing for can only come from knowing and believing that Christ is always there for us, in spite of the problems of life. Therefore, like, Julie’s family, we must have the courage to face our problems. And, like Julie’s family, we must, more importantly, know that the deepest peace in our lives is what Our Lord in today’s Gospel wants to offer us. As we must dare to trust that this is true, we must also dare to share it with others who are still searching for this peace, for “the harvest is rich, but the labourers are few.”