HOMILY WEEK 30 01 – Year I

Living in the Spirit and Loving Like Jesus

(Rm 8:11-17; Ps 68; Lk 13:10-17)


Which rings true for you: Law over love, or love over law?

As adopted children of God, we are to die to sin, live in the Spirit, and make loving others our highest priority, as Jesus did.

In the first reading from Romans, St. Paul insists on our new identity – we have been given the Spirit of adoption, with our Father as Creator; Jesus as our brother, and belong to a world-wide family. God is our salvation – we can rejoice and be glad. We have been set free from fear and given courage to face any challenge with love.

In the Gospel, Jesus shows how mercy must triumph over the law by healing a sick woman on the Sabbath, despite the objections of the synagogue official. With his petty focus on the law, he tried to place a limit on God’s limitless love and mercy present in Jesus.

Before judging this synagogue official too harshly, however, we should do a reality check on ourselves. Are their times and subtle ways when we have done just that – placed limits on God’s power to love and to heal.  Perhaps we looked only for physical healing when the Lord wanted to heal our emotions. Maybe we think that some things are too hard for God to heal, or that we can be healed only if we follow certain steps. Or perhaps we have a deep-seated tendency to earn God’s love, rooted in a kind of meritocracy? Of perhaps we even think that God doesn’t heal today, or that we don’t deserve to be healed.

It is important that we persevere in our faith, like the woman in the Gospel crippled for eighteen years. Her affliction and pain did not stop her from making her way into the synagogue anyway, to hear the Word of God and the soak up the teachings of the rabbi. Little did she know what that day would bring. All she did was show up, and Jesus restored her health and changed her life.

One person remarked as part of a shared homily her appreciation for the fact that the Oblates of Mary Immaculate take a fourth vow of perseverance, along with poverty, chastity and obedience. Just that fact has helped her to persevere in her own life of prayer and following Jesus, especially when going through hard times as a single parent.

This fourth vow connects with St. Paul’s comment in the closing sentence of the reading from Romans that fleshes out the meaning of our identity as adopted children of God who are also heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ – “if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.”

There is an allusion here not just to perseverance, but to redemptive suffering. We are called to accept inconvenience and suffering in our lives without bitterness or resentment, as Jesus did. So, when a hoped-for healing doesn’t happen in our lives, can we be like that crippled woman in the gospel, who kept on coming to the synagogue for eighteen years, to be part of the worshipping community, listening to the Word of God?

At the same time, like her, we may experience some healing in unexpected ways and at unexpected times, for there is no limit to the power and ways that God’s love is at work in our lives.

Actually, as the Eucharist makes present the selfless love of Jesus on the Cross, especially in the form of forgiveness and healing, I believe whenever we celebrate the Eucharist sincerely, we do receive some degree of forgiveness, and experience some form of inner healing, whether we are aware of it or not.

So let us continue to celebrate our identity as adopted children of God, dying to sin, living in the Spirit, and make loving others our highest priority, as Jesus did.



Updated: October 25, 2021 — 12:18 am

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