HOMILY WEEK 10 03 – Year II

Living in the Reign with Faith and Love

(1 Kg 18:20-39; Ps 16; Mt 5:17-19)


Years ago, I was inspired to offer a retreat entitled Living in the Reign.

The readings today invite us to live in the Reign of God with the faith of Elijah and by keeping the commandments to love.

One of the sites we visited on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land was Mt. Carmel, where the story of Elijah and the false prophets of Baal unfolded.  A statue, cave and interpretive centre tells the dramatic story.

Israel had been totally unfaithful as a nation. They had chosen to follow the god Baal, along with numerous prophets. Elijah stood alone as a genuine prophet who put the false prophets of Baal to the test by fire. Pouring water on his sacrifice three times symbolizes totality and perfection. This test would be the ultimate test revealing whose god was the true God.

Elijah proves to be a true prophet as the true God of Israel responds to his simple prayer of trusting faith, while the god Baal remains impervious to all the dancing and gashing of the false prophets. The story ends with the destruction of the false prophets and Elijah on the run from Queen Jezebel who wants to kill him.

In the gospel, Jesus identifies himself as the fulfillment of the Law and Prophets – he is the new Law and the new prophet. The message is clear: we are to believe in him as Son of God, and let go of any false gods in our lives.

False gods are an inordinate attachment to possessions and pleasure, prestige and fame, power and control. In the Big Book, they are listed as money, fame and power. Madonna once stated she uses her fame to garner wealth which gives her power. These false gods are all around us and tempting us all the time. We are to place our complete faith and total trust in Jesus, reject these false gods and keep his commandment to love.

I like to summarize those commandments as follows: we are to love God back with our whole being, love others as we love ourselves, love one another as Jesus has loved us (a sacrificial love) and finally, even love our enemies by forgiving them from the heart. Jesus, of course, fulfilled these perfectly. When we try to do as he did, we are already living within his reign with faith and love.

I came across someone who can serve as an example for us. Richard Moore was blinded by a British soldier’s rubber bullet while playing in Derry, Northern Ireland in May 1972. Despite the challenges, he graduated from college, married, raised a family and today is a musician, businessman and philanthropist. He founded Children in Crossfire, a nonprofit helping families in Ethiopia and Tanzania break the cycle of poverty through education and economic opportunities. He credits his happiness to his parents’ faith in Jesus and love, as well as a pivotal encounter he had with Pope John Paul II in 1979, and his choice to forgive the solider who shot him, following the example of his parents.

Although his brother wanted him to get revenge for his blindness, his mother encouraged him to forgive and not hurt someone else. She taught him forgiveness is not about the perpetrator, but about liberating him from allowing anger to eat him up from the inside. He is happy because he is not carrying anger and resentment. He realizes forgiveness does not change the past, but it does change the future. He met the soldier named Charles who shot him 33 years later and forgave him in person, an experience that was liberating beyond words. He appreciates the connection with St. Pope JP II, who also met and forgave the man who shot him.

The Eucharist is an act of faith in Jesus as the Son of God whose love for us shown on the cross is made present for us today through Word and Sacrament.

May our celebration grant us strong faith like Elijah, help us reject these false gods in our lives, and empower us to keep the commandments to love as we live in the Reign of God with faith and love.

Updated: June 12, 2024 — 2:48 am

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