Homily for the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time Deliverd at the Churches of Kamogawa and Tateyama
31 July 2011
Kamogawa and Tateyama Church, Chiba
Reading I (Isaiah 55:1-3)
Reading II (Romans 8:35, 37-39)
Gospel (Mathew 14:13-21)
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
In today’s Gospel we read the following verse: “When he disembarked and saw the vast crowd, his heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick” (Mt.14:14).
The expression, “his heart was moved with pity,” is a translation of the Greek verb “splanchnizomai.” This word means that one feels pain in the depths of one’s being (literally, ‘bowels’), and it refers here to the pain that Jesus experienced when he beheld the sufferings of others. Jesus always had deep compassion for those who were suffering or in sorrow. In this way he became a man completely like us except for sin. Jesus felt and accepted as his own the suffering and sorrow of others. The earthly life of Jesus is the perfect revelation of the love of God the Father. When I reflect on this passage, I am reminded of the words of the prophet Hosea.
“Ephraim, how could I part with you? Israel, how could I give you up? How could I treat you as Admah, or deal with you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils from it. My whole being trembles at the thought. I will not give vent to my blazing anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One present among you. I will not let the flames consume you” (Hosea 11:8-9).
The God of Israel reacts with a fierce anger toward all the sin and evil which people commit, but this same God is very merciful and suffers deeply as he bestows mercy on sinners. The God of Israel forgives and saves all human beings. The apostle Paul describes this love of God in his letter to the Romans:
“Everyone is a sinner and nobody is completely righteous before God, because nobody is able to observe completely the laws of God. However God offered his Son Jesus Christ, so that by his blood he could become the means by which people’s sins are forgiven through faith in him. Everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. But by the free gift of God’s grace, all are justified through Christ Jesus.
God has revealed the love of God through the cross of Jesus Christ. Paul says:
“I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord“
The East Japan Earthquake is a challenge to our faith in God’s mercy. Why did such a terrible disaster happen if God really exists？Why did so many innocent people suffer or lose their lives in this disaster?
We believe that Our God is the God of Jesus Christ who suffers with us in our profound sorrow. We believe in this God of compassion.
The second reading from the Mass on the 15th Sunday of the Year, July 10, was from Chapter 8 of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans. It says,
“Creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God; for creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord but because of the one who subjected it, in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God” (Romans 8:19-21).
It is not only we human beings but all creation that must be set free from corruption.
That is why God is renewing creation every day and transforming this world and the whole universe into “a new heaven and a new earth,” and we believe that someday God will complete this work of building a new Kingdom where God will reign supreme. So let us move forward with faith in our hearts as we await the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today I pray especially for those who are going to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation that they may know more deeply the love of God and become true disciples of Jesus Christ, carrying with them throughout their lives the faith and hope and all the rich gifts that God bestows on them today through the Holy Spirit. Amen.