Homily – 13th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C

There was a story of a very fine young man whose parents were going away for a long holiday.  His parents gave him enough money so he could buy food and look after himself while they were away.  One day, the young man went to the market to buy food and saw that there was a person who needed help.  The young man did not think twice, before giving away his money left over from the shopping.  It happened regularly, that whenever this young man went to the market, he found there were people that needed assistance and he never refused to help them.  As a result, he did not have enough money to maintain his wellbeing until his parents returned from holiday.  Fortunately, his parents returned in time but they were quite upset with the young man; despite the fact that the young man had not done anything wrong.

Have you ever faced that dilemma in your lives?  The decision between good and evil?  Or even the conflict of choosing between two good options or two very good options?

The young man in our story found himself in such a conflicting situation.  He decided to help the less fortunate, but the disciples in today’s gospel story are not quite sure what to do.  In such cases, the good easily becomes the enemy of the best, one must then say no to a good thing in order to say yes to the best one.  Today’s gospel is a sequence of four incidents and encounters with people who could have become followers of Jesus but who were held back by ulterior concerns and motives.  Each encounter highlights a different concern. 

The first incident is the encounter between the messengers of Jesus and the Samaritan villagers.  The concern that holds the Samaritans back from accepting and following Jesus is self-identity.  Samaritans and Jews were bitter enemies.  The Samaritan villagers had probably heard about Jesus and what he was doing and were interested.  But as soon as they learnt that Jesus and his disciples were Jews and were heading for Jerusalem, their admiration turned into opposition.  The challenge for us is that we do sometimes need to let go of ourselves and give people another chance.

The second incident is a conflict between the comfortable lifestyle and being a follower of Jesus.  The first person said I will follow you wherever you go.”  But Jesus responds: Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.  In other words, Jesus reminds us that there will be uncomfortable situations that we may have to face in our lives in following our decisions or our Christian’s call.

The other two people also wanted to follow the Lord, but with conditions – to let him go first and bury his father or say farewell to the family before following Jesus.  It seems these two people have very good intentions.  Some scripture scholars believe that the father of this person might not have died yet.  This person may worry too much about his future and forget the present moment.  The person who would like to say goodbye to his family and friend, this is a lovely gesture, but there is a moment in our lives when we should let go of a few things, in order to come back for them. 

In following our Christian calling, we are invited to put our future in God’s hands and accept the current moment with appreciation and sometimes with difficulties.  The gospel of this weekend really challenges us in the way we are following the message of the kingdom of God in this current climate of the church and of society, but having said that, we must remember that God is always with us until the end of time.   

By Fr Trac Nguyen




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