June 1, 2008
Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

First Reading: Deut. 10:12-13; 11:18, 26-28, 32
Psalm 31
Second Reading:
Rom. 1:16-17; 3:20-26, 28
Gospel: Matt. 7:21-27

Theme: Belonging to God and Each Other

The three readings from Deuteronomy, Romans and Matthew insist that we cannot reduce belonging to God or neighbour only to the observance of the law. In fact, belonging to God demands that we live God’s life in us to the fullest. Perhaps, this is the reason why Jesus insists that “Not every one who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of God, our Father in heaven” [cf. Matt. 7:21]. When we do not build together, Matthew 7:27 tells us that we will fall as a parish and that fall would be a great fall – a disaster. I do not think that our wish is to fall apart. I believe our wish is to stay together as a family founded on a solid foundation of the Creator.

Jesus is teaching us to know that we cannot simply call out to him, “Lord, Lord,” while we never lift a finger to care for those who are hungry or hurting. We cannot call him “Lord” and never reach out to those who have no shelter or safety, food or clothing. We cannot call him “Lord” and refuse to care for those who are lonely and are in need of our friendship or presence – capital “P” – Presence. We cannot belong to God and neighbour when our hearts and minds are filled with disrespect for each other; when we frown on others; when we make others feel as though they are less human than we are.

Jesus makes us aware that we do not only have to call out to him when we need him the most or when things are rough. The “calling” is not over and must not be over or we must not leave God out in our life’s picture when everything is in its proper place. Indeed, it is when we feel our "calling" is up that we must sincerely ask ourselves this question: “Have I done or did I do enough as God expects of me in my relationship with others?” It is never enough to belong to God when it is convenient to us. Otherwise, of what use is our claim as Christians, Catholic or parishioner if we lack Jesus’ character of Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding, Courage [Fortitude], Right Judgement, Reverence [Piety] and the Wonder and Awe of God’s presence in our life?

In essence, Jesus is teaching us to note that when we fail to belong to God; that when we fail to represent him in every way to our brothers and sisters in need, he may sadly say to us also, “Go away from me, I never knew you” [cf. Matt. 7:23]. I am sure we have all gone some experience in life when we depended very much on a person, and something minuscule happened, and that person rejected us just like that. That is a great fall. That might cause us a great time that might take a long time to overcome. We do know that when people make us feel as “we do not count” and are unworthy or insignificant; when we are left out and not accounted for, we carry a burden, we carry pain. We may compare the situation to a girlfriend or boy friend or spouse telling the other, “It’s over; you do not count anymore in my life;” “I do not need you anymore.” Wow! For those who cannot stand the pain – that “defeat,” they unfortunately, commit suicide or do something drastic to their lives, thus affecting the lives of many others as well. They cannot stand the fall. This may be the reason why Jesus asks us to build our houses upon him; that we make him our best friend; that we make him our greatest pillar and source of life’s happiness.

We know now from Jesus that the true meaning of Belonging to God is being conscious about everything we do for God and neighbour; conscious about what we do for or against a neighbour.

Regrettably, doing that which is good to benefit a neighbour is becoming one of the most difficult act of charity for some of us to do in this present time. For this, I ask again: “Of what us is our claim as Christians, Catholics, parishioners or priest when we seem to be out of touch of the true nature of Jesus – the nature of charity, peace, kindness, goodness, patience, gentleness, truthfulness, self-control and respect of our humanity?” [cf. Gal. 5:16-25].

I am happy though, that you have allowed the law of Christ to be written on your hearts. I thank you for building your house – that is, your faith and way of life solidly upon the love of God and neighbour.

As participants at this Eucharist, we might consider the fact that Jesus is right when he insists that it is in caring about each other’s well being that we would all belong to the same Lord!

Father John-Baptist Okai
Priest Moderator
St. Cecilia Parish, Regina SK Canada

St. Cecilia Parish Home -- Homilies