FOURTEENTH SUNDAY A: HOMILY by Fr. Matthias Lusembo

THEME: “LEARN FROM ME, FOR I AM MEEK AND HUMBLE OF HEART” (Mt 11:29)

The Objective of this homily is that each one of us learns from Jesus to be meek and humble in heart, so that we may have peace (Mt 11: 29).

In the Gospel we have just heard (Mt 11:25-30), we are about half-way through Matthew’s gospel and Jesus seems to be looking back over his activities. He considers at what he has achieved, successes and failures, and ascertains a fact that: his message has had practically no effect on those who consider themselves to be wise and learned of the Jewish society, while it has been accepted joyfully by a small group of his disciples who are as meek and humble in heart as children, or as Jesus himself. And these come from the poorest and most lowly social classes, like the poor fishermen. – If faced with such a disappointing result, we probably would feel discouraged. Instead Jesus expresses joy and blesses his Father, because those who are as meek and humble in heart as Jesus is have accepted his Gospel.

These childlike disciples are the poor in spirit. This means, they realize that they need God for their salvation. They do not claim to know or to have everything.

I have a very rich friend in Germany. He claims to be a protestant, but he does not go to church. I asked him why he does not attend church services. He responded that he has everything. So, he does not have to bother God. Many rich people think like him, because they imagine that we come to church simply to beg God for assistance. They are mistaken. The main reason for coming to church is to praise God and to thank him. That is the very reason why the rich should be the first in church to thank God for the riches, because nobody could achieve anything if God had not created anything. Moreover, it may not be true that the rich have everything. Do they, for example, have eternal life already? Do they hope to buy it from God? Christ said: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the rich man to go to heaven”(Mt 19:24), because of neglecting spirituality. Even the rich and learned need spiritual nourishment: they need sacraments, they need to listen to the explanation of the word of God. They need the ecclesial family which prepares them to be in the heavenly family.

In the first reading, prophet Zechariah has told us that God will reveal Himself to us humbly and remove from us every sign of military power and force; he will destroy every instrument of war and all other means of violence. But in spite of his renouncing military power, he will be victorious and will have an immense success: His Empire will cover the whole world. What people consider weakness will be God’s strength. According to the Bible, God’s people of the Old Testament tried out militarism and it did not produce permanent victory; actually, they were simply humiliated with the destruction of their main Temple, and occupation of Jerusalem by non-Jews. – In 1990, I visited Jerusalem and saw Jews praying from outside the remaining wall of once a gorgeous Temple. Even other empires, like the Roman Empire that wanted to remain strong through militarism collapsed a long time ago.

On the contrary, the Empire humbly introduced by Jesus through the little ones, is growing from strength to strength, thanks to the stopping of Christian crusades. Now Christ’s Empire has over two billion members all over the world. The method of Jesus is preaching God’s word, Baptism, charity, love of enemies, dialogue, prayer, reconciliation, not militarism. Yet people continue to deceive themselves that militarism brings peace. If that were the case there would be already peace in Iraq and Afghanistan. Take also the example of Rwanda: thirty five years preceding the genocide of 1994, Hutus massacred Tutsis and others fled the country. Thirty five years later, the Tutsi had become strong enough to remove the Hutu regime at a cost of about half a million lives. Who knows now what the Hutus will do next, if they do not follow Christ’s advice. The more you terrorize terrorists, the more unsafe you become.

You kill one terrorist, his four brothers become terrorists to revenge for their brother.  On July third 2008, I visited the War Memorial Monument in Richmond City and I saw thousands of names of soldiers lost in war and I wondered why people continue to fight.

Even on family level, a family that uses Christ’s method of humble prayer together, love, charity, dialogue, reconciliation, and not fighting, or quarreling is the family that experiences peace. As long as people continue to think that war brings peace, there will be no permanent peace, for as Mahatma Gandhi said “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. So, all the rich, the poor, the militarily strong, the learned, the unlearned should humbly listen to God and practice Christ’s method, then there will be peace in the world.

Jesus, instead of killing his enemies, offered his life for the salvation of his enemies, teaching them to love their enemies. He feeds us with his body and blood to teach us salvific humility.