HOMILY 27th MONDAY IN ORDINARY TIME 2017 DEACON ANDREW THOMAS
A famous Hollywood actor once said, "80% of life is just showing up." Certainly, we know that getting up in the morning, taking a shower, brushing our teeth, having our two cups of coffee, is the biggest battle before we begin our work for the day. Once we show up, we are inclined to do what lies before us.
Jonah, must have been fully aware of this, because he refused to show up! In fact, he went in the opposite direction of where he was supposed to go. Instead of going to Nineveh, he went to Tarshish. Jonah was called to preach to the Assyrians, who represented the evil empire that would eventually conquer all of Palestine, with Israel falling in 722 B.C., and Judah falling in 701. Jonah was a patriot! Regardless of God's will, he was not going to do anything that would benefit this dreaded enemy. To give a sense of perspective, Nineveh was located in modern day Iraq, whereas Tarshish was located in southern Spain. That's completely across the Mediterranean Sea!
But God got Jonah's attention, and the attention of the others on the ship. They had to throw him into the sea to calm the storm, and Jonah gets swallowed by the great fish.
Today's Gospel is not unconnected to the story of Jonah. We have the story of the Good Samaritan. When children hear this story, they are often puzzled as to why the Samaritans were so despised by the Jews.
It's really the same reason that Jonah despised the Assyrians. When the Assyrians took over Samaria in 722 B.C., they deported many of the Samaritans east, and brought in their own people to repopulate the area.
As a result, the worship of the one true God declined, and these new Samaritans began worshiping false gods, and so their neighbors in the south, eventually viewed the Samaritans to be pagans.
Of course, Holy Mother Church, in Her wisdom, has put the message present in the Book of Jonah, and in the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke's Gospel, together.
The Message is that God loves all and cares for their well-being. God plays no favorites, no preferences, no prejudices. He hears the cry of a repentant heart, from wherever or whoever that may come from.
There are two commandments that Jesus presents us, the Great Commandment, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength. " Deuteronomy 6:5. And the second commandment, Leviticus 19:18, "Love your neighbor as yourself."
We learn from the parable that we are to emulate the one who showed mercy.
Before we become too proud of ourselves for in how we live our lives, we must ask ourselves if we hold any prejudices, whether they be ethnic in origin, or against non-Catholic Christians, or those who do not claim Christ as Lord and Savior?
We will be judged on how lovingly and mercifully we treat others. How well we do the will of God. Today, our incentive is not just to worship our God, but to show our love of Him by how we treat our neighbors, even those who we mistrust.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!