HOMILY WEEK 10 06
Newly Minted Ambassadors of Reconciliation
(2 Cor 5:14-21; Ps 103; Mt 5:33-37)
A young boy wanted to be alone with his newly born little sister. Curious, his parents stood by the door to listen, and heard him say to his baby sister, “Quick, tell me about God. I’m starting to forget.”
The readings today remind us about who we are – a new creation in Christ, ambassadors for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation
In the gospel, Jesus reveals his divinity by showing himself to be above the Torah – “You have heard – but I say to you.” The Torah, for the orthodox Jews, is the ultimate authority. For Jesus to place himself above the Torah, as the author of the Torah, was equivalent to saying he was God. That claim, as we know, led to the accusation of blasphemy and finally to his crucifixion.
For its part, the psalm adds to this divinity the fact that Jesus was also the Messiah, because of the two-fold role the Messiah would have – to redeem and to sanctify; to forgive and to heal, especially evident in the second stanza: “Bless the Lord who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your disease, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.”
As the Messiah, Lord and God, we can thus come to Jesus for the forgiveness of all our sins, and also to be healed of all our sinfulness (that which makes us sin) – our painful emotions and our defects of character or negative attitudes such as false pride, stubborn self-will and self-righteousness. Forgiven and healed, we have been reconciled with God, and are truly made into a new creation.
As a new creation, we are given a new and important role – to be ambassadors for Christ, to speak for Christ to the world. When in Rome for the Ad Limina visit, the Western Canadian bishops were invited for an outdoor banquet at the residence of the Canadian ambassador to the Vatican – a wonderful experience. That person was there to bring to the Vatican Canada’s thoughts, concerns and questions about international and national affairs bordering on the spiritual and political. It was an important posting, yet pales in comparison to the role we have been given by Christ himself – to speak to the world on his behalf, about who he is and what he has done for us.
But there is more – Jesus has also given us a ministry of reconciliation, to help others believe in who Jesus is, to receive his unconditional love through forgiveness, to experience personal and spiritual healing and also be reconciled with God.
Someone who truly lived these readings, who was a new creation in Christ, who was in a very gentle way an ambassador for Christ, and who carried out a ministry of healing and reconciliation was the late Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche Movement providing a family setting for the mentally challenged, who are so often marginalized and excluded. One of his somewhat rare qualities was the ability to see differences and diversity not as a threat to community, but precisely as a grace contributing to strong communities. That quality is needed more than ever today in the growing polarization and nationalizing divisive atmosphere in our society.
The Eucharist is both a cause of unity, and a source of unity. It is also contributes to making us into a new creation through its forgiving and healing power even as we celebrate.
May our celebration empower us to live out our God-given dignity as ambassadors of Christ, carrying out our critical mission to be ambassadors of reconciliation to a very wounded world.