Homily October 5th – Fr. Nathaniel Dreyer – From the Pulpit

Thursday of the Twenty-sixth Week in Ordinary Time – Odd Years – Lk 10:1-12

            Today’s readings all give us an idea of how we are to respond to the sadness and disappointments that come our way in life, both as a result of our own failings but also from the rejection and disappointment we experience from others. In today’s first reading, Nehemiah and Ezra have to convince the people of Israel not to be saddened at the fact that they hadn’t followed the law for many years. Together the two proclaim: “Today is holy to the LORD your God. Do not be sad, and do not weep,” and Nehemiah adds: “Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the LORD must be your strength!” It seems paradoxical: here the Jews haven’t followed God’s commands, they’ve done many things that God has told them not to, and yet, just when they find this out and are crying over their failings, the Lord tells them, and rather insistently, to rejoice and be glad, because today they have been made aware of their misdeeds and will be able to correct themselves. Indeed, the Psalm tells us that “the precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart,” since “the law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul.” Our sins and failings aren’t an impediment to God working in us; provided we attempt to overcome them, God uses them to make us grow in humility and in our awareness and appreciation for His great mercy.

Today’s Gospel from Luke presents us with the missionary instructions that Christ gives to His followers. He tells the 72 disciples a number of things, but we can focus on just one. Towards the end, Christ foresees that His disciples will not always be well-received. “Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you,” He tells them, “go out into the streets and say, ‘The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.’ Yet know this: the Kingdom of God is at hand.” The word yet can also be translated as “however” or “nevertheless.” “Nevertheless,” despite the rejection, God’s Kingdom is coming. The Greek isn’t clear about who is supposed to “know this”: whether Christ means the disciples, so that they don’t lose faith, or the people to whom the message is being preached, is uncertain.[1]

In either case, though, the point is this: the Kingdom of God isn’t impeded or prevented simply because some people wish to ignore it or pretend it isn’t there. It comes, regardless of whether or not it is well-received, and it will do good no matter what. Our task is to preach the Gospel, in season and out of season.

In our lives, too, we must be convinced of God’s love and mercy, a mercy that triumphs over even the worst sins. When we really see sin for the evil it is, we also come to appreciate God’s mercy. Likewise, we come to see God’s law, not as a burden, but as a path to happiness, a happiness that we want to share with others by proclaiming the Gospel. Today, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, let us ask for the grace of a deep knowledge of God’s holiness and majesty, as well as of our own sinfulness and of God’s overwhelming mercy.

[1] The NABRE (the lectionary) places quotation marks as cited above. However, it seems to be one of very few, if not the only, translation into English that splits the phrase this way.



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