The Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 14, 2020:
“We Proclaim the Kingdom”
Psalm 50:1-8, 16-17, 23
Bishop Ariel P. Santos
In the Great Commission, Jesus told His disciples to go into the world and to make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit because all authority has been given to Him in heaven and on earth. In the gospel today, Jesus sends out His disciples on a mission.
In Psalm 50:5, God says, “Gather My godly ones to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.” But in Psalm 50:16, the wicked thought that God was just like them. They have these human projections of God, which to them was acceptable as believers of God. And we, too, have these projections of who we think God is, likened to making idols for ourselves.
In verses 19-20, God said that when people use vile language, their mouth drools with filth and they damage people with words they use. St. Paul instructs us in Ephesians 4:29-31 to get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, loud shouting, abusive speech, and malice. He further says to speak only what builds up and what gives grace to the hearer otherwise, we grieve the Holy Spirit.
Galatians 5:22 says that the fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control. Christians sometimes excuse their anger as “righteous anger”. God’s response to this is, “You thought I was just like you. You thought that I get angry so you, too, get angry. You think I use vile words and damaging words. You act and you think you act like Me.” These are the deeds of the flesh: bitterness, rage, anger, abuse of speech. There are no righteous versions of the deeds of the flesh; they are in opposition to the Holy Spirit, and they are not the attributes of God.
Sometimes we project that God kills, punishes or avenges in the name of justice. These things are more deeply ingrained in us than we think or care to admit. They move in subtlety in us. Proverbs says that let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall. Be humble and constantly look to God’s attributes.
How do we know God? Jesus is like God. Did Jesus ever avenge, retaliate, punish or inflict pain to those who tortured Him, insulted Him, persecuted or crucified Him? What did He do instead? Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Sometimes, we have a desire to display toughness in the name of justice, but somehow, it reflects our insecurity.
Jesus said God is Omnipotent and He has the ability to annihilate us but He doesn’t. He reveals that if God the Father cares about inexpensive sparrows, more so about us, so do not fear. Our God is not a destroyer, though He has the ability, because He is a merciful God and He wants us to be merciful to others as well.
In Exodus 19, God wants Israel to be His own possession among all the peoples, a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. It reminds us of what Peter said that we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession. We are a peculiar people for God’s own possession. To be holy is to be set apart; to be different. We are not to be like the hypocrites, the religions people, to be the covenant people who violently clamoured an “eye for an eye.”
In the story of a woman who was caught in adultery, the religious leaders brought her to Jesus and they were pressuring Him to pronounce sentence of death. They threatened to stone her. Jesus tells them, “He who has no sin, be the first to throw the stone at her.” They thought they could apply that which was said in the law, but Jesus reveals to them the Father as a forgiving God.
We are called to be holy and peculiar to show the world a more excellent way. What way is this? It is the way of forgiveness. Romans 5:8 says that while we were yet sinners (guilty, deserving of punishment if we would follow the letter of the Law), God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us. God chooses not to use an “eye for an eye” but to forgive. God poured out His love for us while we were sinners.
What is our mission? It is to spread this good news that God is not in the business of retaliating but of forgiving others. As in the gospel today, we are sent to be ministers to the lost and to the guilty. God’s heart is to reach out to the lost- the sick, the lepers, the demon-possessed, the ostracized by society. God sends us to them not to condemn them, but to bring forgiveness to them.
God calls people to Himself first so that through Him, they may know the Trinity, and they can participate in the Godhead’s communion of love. Jesus calls people to Himself first so that they may know God through Him. Then, they make His heart known by proclaiming His kingdom that is all about healing those who are rejected by others because of their sin.
We are not to evaluate people’s sin or to highlight their guilt. We are to proclaim God’s forgiveness and bring healing and restoration upon them. Jesus said, “Freely we have received, freely we give.” Freely we have received mercy, love, and blessings; freely, we give of these.
Martin Luther King said, “Hate cannot overcome hate or violence or force; only love can.” He further said, “You think you can oppress us or discriminate us; but the more you do these things to us, the more we will love you all the more.”
All of us want to right the wrong around us. The way is not to bring force into it. The way is to bring to them the kindness of God that will bring the Spirit that will change them and the situation. It is the Holy Spirit of God that will change and will renew the face of earth.
Remember why we are Christians. Remember why we exist. It is to fulfill the mission of spreading God’s love. God loves us, His people, even sinners. God has forgiven us. God is not angry at us. God will not forsake us because this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.