8th Sunday of Ordinary Time Father Gerard Jonas

Homily of 3rd March 2019

Sirach (or Ecclesiasticus) 27:4-7; Ps 91; 1Cor 15:54-58; Luke 6:39-45

Do you know that the crescent on South Carolina’s state flag is not the moon? It was while on a carriage tour of Charleston that I learned about that. Our good tour guide said that the flag designed during the revolutionary war bore the crescent image that depicts the breastplate to protect the soldier’s neck. We really need good guides so we don’t get misled or misinformed.

Today’s Gospel presents us with some passages of the teachings of Jesus that Luke weaves together in this Sermon on the Plain.

Lk 6:39: The parable of the blind leading the blind.
Lk 6:40: The Disciple and the Teacher.
Lk 6:41-42: The splinter in the eye of your brother.
Lk 6:43-45: The parable of the tree that produces good fruit.

In Matthew’s version, Jesus tells this parable of the blind guide to criticize the religious leaders and teachers of the Israelites. In Luke’s version, Jesus addresses this to all his followers, all the faithful in general. In effect, Luke focuses on the mission of the Church to be guide to the community. All the members of the Church are held responsible for its prophetic mission. Indeed, at Baptism, we become sharers of the 3-fold mission of Christ: to be King – to serve, Prophet – to proclaim and Priest – to offer and praise. Thus, each Christian is a servant, teacher, leader, and guide in and to the world. The leadership of some within the Church is supposed to assist the fulfillment of the mission of all in the Church. As followers of Christ, the natural maturity is to be Christ-like, to be instruments so Christ’s teachings may continue to be proclaimed to others.

The people of the world are not looking for more words from the Church, but for more fruits of belief in action. Talk of the love of God may be unbelievable if not first observed in the love of one to another. This is the way to fulfill the mission as teacher and guide in the world.

Jesus points the way, saying that the tree is known by its fruits, good tree- good fruit, bad tree- bad fruits, or bad fruits from a badly treated good tree. How can you identify a dogwood tree before it blooms? You can tell by the bark!

Seriously now, we will know that we are doing the right thing when we look at the fruits of our actions. If even by a bit of what I do and say, I am able to witness to the love and mercy of God, I am a good fruit-bearing tree. To be able to tell or know how I fare, I need to examine myself as Jesus calls for.

Do I have a clear vision of where I am going or am I blind, blinded by sinfulness, self-centeredness, self-righteousness, laziness?

Do I keep in sight the object of my life’s journey? At the end of the day, Mar 3rd, can I truly say I have sought God all-day long or have I made tiresome and useless detours that my inner spiritual GPS kept honking – “recalculating.” What have I learned from the experience, from what the Church and others have to say?

Does my heart have the abundance of right things from which flows good thoughts, words, and actions?

Repentance, prayer, reflection, and study can truly help straighten up my active life of faith, that I may see clearly and become a real guide and teacher to others who are seeking the love of God incarnated in the daily tedium of life.

The Season of Lent is just around the corner. This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, one of the only 2 days of obligatory fasting, the other one is Good Friday, the beginning of forty days of preparation for the Paschal Triduum, calling for more intense prayer, penance, and good works.

Let our reflection today lead us to this great season of Lent.

And let me end with a loose translation of a Japanese poem that I deem captures the Lord’s’ message for us today:

Those who speak are noble.
Those who, without knowing it themselves,
speak with their bodies are nobler.
Those who give guidance are noble.
Those who, without knowing it,
Guide by Example are nobler.
guide by example are nobler.