Deacon Steven M. Johnson – St. James, Belvidere, IL
Homily for the 10th Week of Ordinary Time, Thursday, 6-10-21, Year B
READINGS: 1st 2 Cor 3:15-4:1, 3-6; Gospel Mt 5:20-26
Theme: True Holiness
We have seen a slow and gradual shift in holiness throughout the world. Unfortunately, it is a shift or trend in the wrong direction that moves us away from faith in God and His teachings and more toward knowledge of what can be known, seen or touched. It is a trend that has us looking inward to ourselves as our own advocate for what really matters to us vs dependence on and worship of God in faith to guide us.
As we become more and more connected through various kinds of media, quick travel to faraway places, and constant new discoveries about ourselves and our world, it’s easy to see why this is. We are distracted, pulled in many different directions, exposed to all kinds of ideas, theories, thought processes and lifestyles. This is not a bad thing; as a matter of fact, this is a good thing.
We should be aware of our world and environment and how we impact it. We should be exposed to lifestyles and thoughts that differ from what we know. These things should both bolster our faith and show us right from wrong. They should present opportunities to share our faith and to help others who may not know God or His Will for us. In other words, they can help us remove our veil and reveal God’s truth both in the good and the bad of this world.
The problem is that many of us do not have the right lens to view and understand these various things in relation to God’s plan and Will for us. When this is the case, it is easy for us to be convinced of our own worth, our own plan and our perceived control over our lives based only on what we know see and touch.
This is unfortunate, because the answer lies in seeking all sides of the equation, even faith. Because of the obstinance that many feel toward organized religion, institutional faiths, and the perceived corruption and evil that has pervaded these establishments, many are dissuaded from attending any kind of faith service or learning about God.
For many others who have attended, they have twisted the teachings of God and His Son Jesus into what they want to believe His intentions are for us. This allows the evil one to sew doubt and confusion in those who do not know God or worse, think they know better than God. They will be greatly misled.
This problem is not new. St. Paul speaks of it in the first reading that whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over the people’s hearts. Indeed, that veil lies over the hearts of many today. For those who are able to wade through this world’s sludge of relativism, pride, and self-centeredness to seek the truth in God, the veil is lifted. In these people, the spirit is allowed to speak to them and change them, strengthening them against the evil one whose sole purpose is to confuse, divide and separate us from God. These people experience a true holiness that comes with a liberation and contentment that is Jesus himself.
Jesus expounds on this true holiness in Matthew’s Gospel today. We must see beyond our selfishness, so we do not view the world from our own eyes only. We must take on a servant’s role. We should want to be last instead of first and to let love permeate every aspect of our lives so that we are not a stumbling block to anyone, even those who hate us. Forgive and forget. Let go, let God.
Live a life of true holiness by continuing to seek the truth in God. Experience everything but view it all through the lens of Christ’s teaching, a teaching that is rooted in love first. Your veil may very well be lifted from you. If so, use your gift from God in a purpose -driven life to help lift the veil of those who do not even know they are veiled.