Homily on the Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful (Lk 6:36)
Today we recall from December 8, 2015-November 20, 2016, the Church lived the Iubilaeum Extraordinarium Misericordiae/Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, because the logo for this special Jubilee is “Merciful like the Father” taken from the Gospel proclaimed at Mass on this 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Lectionary Cycle C). During that year, we asked ourselves how can we show others the Mercy of God? We say that God is compassionate, but we ignore the poor. We say that God loves us and has mercy on us, but we hold grudges against our friends. Our actions need to authentically reflect God’s mercy. The special Jubilee truly afforded an opportunity for the entire Church to relearn and live the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The practice of spiritual and corporal works of mercy is our way of dusting all the things (i.e., sinful habits) that cover the image of God in us, because mercy is a great characteristic of our God as the Psalmist proclaimed: “The Lord is kind and merciful. (Ps 103:8a)
Speaking about reflecting the image of God in us, St. Paul in the Second Reading today provided a wonderful commentary on Genesis 2:7: “then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” The Apostles were concerned in this part of his Letter to the Corinthians about what sort of body we will have in the resurrection of the death. His commentary on this passage pointed out that there is a play on words in Hebrew between ’adam (“human being,” “man”) and ’adama (“ground”). It is not enough to make ’adam out of the dust; God must also breathe into the man’s nostrils. God imprinted his breath of life in us. For this reason: “Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one” (1Cor 15:49). The image of the heavenly one is merciful, and thus engaging in acts of mercy is dusting our souls so that the image of the heavenly one shines forth.
When we engage in acts of mercy, we are not only dusting our souls, but calling others to their authentic calling as well. In the First Reading today, we noted that David gave the reason why he would not do anything harmful to King Saul: “I would not harm the Lord’s anointed” (1Sam 26:23). Saul was anointed by God to be King of Israel. However, “in those days, Saul went down to the desert of Ziph with three thousand picked men of Israel, to search for David in the desert of Ziph” (1Sam 26:2). Saul was doing that was not fitting as a king, namely not using the troops to protect, defend, and provide peace for the nations– rather he used the troops to satisfy his envious and jealous heart! In this act of mercy, namely sparing Saul’s life because he was the “Lord’s anointed,” David reminded Saul of his own vocation or what the God of mercy appointed him to do. Thus, engaging in an act of mercy is very powerful: not only for dusting our souls to let the image of God in us shine forth, but it also calls others to rediscover their identity in God as well.
“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Lk 6:36). Although more than five years have passed since the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, God’s Word today still awakes in us: We are created in God’s image and likeness: “Merciful and gracious is the LORD, slow to anger, abounding in mercy” (Ps 103: 8).
Gospel Lk 6:27-38