Homily of the 15th of October 2017, 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, A
Clothing ourselves with “Holy Joy” in Christ’s Party!
We are fond of feasting. As the rains give way to the dry season, many festivals are celebrated in our towns and villages. These include “cry-die” (death/Funeral memorial celebrations), Family meetings, End of Year Parties, Weddings etc. These will culminate in the Christmas and New Year celebrations. What makes a successful feast is in the diversity and quantity of food and drinks. We thus understand the scenario of the readings of today centred on food and party. The Bible is so full of the imagery of meal and feasts ( cf. Luke 12:36, John 2:8-9, Revelation 19:9, Mark 6:21, etc). Jesus went to parties and his friends even called him “ A glutton and wine drinker” (Mt 11, 19). Parties are very joyful occasions and no one goes to the party with tears.
In the Gospel, Jesus reminds his Jewish audience that when the messiah comes, they will enjoy a first class party. Jesus compares living in His company to the equivalent of a party. This means that the Church should be a happy place. Joy and gladness are the very heart of the Christian message. The word Gospel itself means glad tidings or good news. So it would appear to be reasonable to expect that this joy and equanimity of spirit should be reflected in our Christian response to life’s situations. Saint Therese once commented that “in heaven there will be no more looks of indifference”, it will be a joyful look. Early martyrs astonished the Roman spectators by singing hymns of praise and joy as they awaited execution. Early Christians thus were called hilares. That is the Latin adjective from which the word hilarious comes. They possessed a “certain holy hilarity”.
Let us reflect on the nature of our Parties: Are they places of a “holy hilarity” or Holy Joy? What is at the centre of our parties? At times even in Religious Festivals, we get into excess drinking and eating and latter on in a drunken state we commit sin. Our “Joy” therefore turns into Sin. Fr. James Gilhooley insists on the importance of Joy in the presence of the Lord and the authentic way of finding this joy lies a deep meditation of the very word JOY : J : place Jesus First, O: Place others second, Y: Place yourself last. Anytime we are in a party and the Joy is not a holy one, then Christ is not at the Centre. If being a disciple of Christ has not brought joy and serenity to me, I cannot expect the message I bring to others to be effective.
The Eucharist is the greatest festival in which the Lord Invites us : “Blessed are those who are invited to the supper of the lamb”. It is offered for us free of Charge. Some of us do not bother when we do not receive Communion in Church. We are like those invited who refuse to come. Although everyone is invited, there is a dressing code! Saint Paul repeatedly speaks about “putting on Christ”, clothing yourself in him. This has to do with clothing your heart and soul with Christ’s attitudes toward others, with His ways of treating others. It also entails clothing yourself with His respect for them, because they are God’s children too. It means wrapping yourself up in Christ’s Holy Spirit. Putting on the feasting habit entails accepting the Love and the joy of Jesus.
In a nutshell we are invited to Christ’s party. We must clothe ourselves with “Holy Joy” to participate in this great banquet.
Fr. Jude Thaddeus Langeh, cmf
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