Homily from Sunday of the Word of God
On this Sunday 23rd, Sunday of the Word of God, Fr. Kulandaisamy Soosai, SVD, better known as Fr. Samy, gave the Chapter Sisters a deep reflection on our spirituality and missionary spirit in light of the readings of the Mass: Neh 8:2-4, 5-6, 8-10; I Cor 12:12-30; Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21.
We are Different but our Mission is the Same
Introduction: Today is the Sunday of the Word of God. The Scripture readings draw our attention on the importance and liberating power of the Word of God as “sacramental,” making God present in our midst. The Gospel presents Jesus’ “inaugural address” in the synagogue of Nazareth and his theology of total liberation, marking a significant moment in Jesus’ ministry. The liturgy of the word today invites us to listen to the Word, accept it into our hearts, and put it into practice as we live out our lives, thus liberating ourselves and others from all types of bondages.
Pondering on the Word: “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light on my path” Psalm 119:105
Let us recall to our mind a word or a phrase or a verse from the Bible that is very close to our heart – that often challenges us, motivates us and impels us to proactive life and mission…let us stay with it for a while allowing it to speak to us again…and thank the Lord for this word as we enter into this mystery of love and sacrifice…
Dear Sisters, this General Chapter marks a significant moment for all the SSpS across the globe. The new General Leadership team headed by Miriam will have the task of setting a direction and to lead the Congregation on the path of the liberating mission of Jesus. Let us pray we are empowered by the Spirit to liberate ourselves and others. Lord, have mercy…Christ have mercy…Lord, have mercy.
God’s surprise message to three powerful Presidents: There is a story about God calling the world’s three most powerful Presidents for a meeting: Presidents coming from Russia, China and U.S.A. God told them one thing: “The world will end by the year 2023. The three Presidents went to their respective countries and told their people about what God had told them. The Russian President said: “My dear people, I have two messages to give, both of them are bad news. First, God is real and second, the world will end by the year 2023.” The President of China announced to his people, “My dear people, I have two important messages for you, one unbelievable and one horrible. The unbelievable message is that God is real. The horrible message is that this God is so fed up with our world that He wants to destroy it.” The American President appeared in the national television to speak to the Americans. He said: “My dear people I have three messages to convey to you, all of them are good news. First, God is still in control of the world. Second, He talked to your President directly. And the third is, our world will end by the year 2023 and all our problems will be over.”
Well, we know that our world is increasingly getting into a chaotic situation but definitely we have no idea about its end. It is true, the developments around the world and the predictions are not very encouraging – the extensive damage caused by the pandemic, the huge impact of climate change, constant tensions among certain countries, the rise of refugees, and so on. But, our Christian faith keeps impelling us to remain hopeful and to continue with our mission. That’s what also we learn from our Founder, Father Arnold. In 1870s when everything appeared bleak and hopeless in Germany, Arnold convincingly responded to his critics, “The Lord challenges our faith to do something new, precisely when so many things are collapsing in the Church.” And, we know the bumper harvest his daring venture yielded.
In the first reading we heard, after rebuilding the Temple and restoring the city, Ezra lead the people in a “Covenant renewal” ceremony by reading and interpreting the Law. All the people, their hands raised high, answered, “Amen, amen!” Then they bowed down and prostrated themselves before the Lord, their faces to the ground.
Jesus replicates Ezra but with a huge difference: Jesus stands up in his native synagogue and announces the Good News of a loving, liberating and saving God. He claims that he is the One sent “to bring glad tidings to the poor, liberation to captives, recovery of sight to the blind and freedom for the oppressed.” To the amazement and disbelief of his own townsfolk, Jesus declares: “This text is being fulfilled today even as you listen.” Luke reports that surprise and admiration were the initial reactions of the people who were astonished at the power and eloquence of this son of their soil. Thus, the first reading and the Gospel describe a public reading of Sacred Scripture announcing the good news of liberation to all and it challenges us to make a “fresh beginning” with a new outlook.
Looking around us in the context of today’s readings, it is obvious that our world needs missionaries like Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador who courageously stood against the oppression of the Government, fighting for option for the poor even at the cost of his life.
Our world needs missionaries like Mother Teresa to wipe away the tears of millions of the marginalized and the unfortunate victims of various forms of violations and to restore their dignity.
Our world needs people like Princess Diana: Before her tragic death in 1997, she was championing the cause of those who had been victims of land-mine explosions in Bosnia.
The Second Reading, taken from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, reminds us that “together we are Christ’s Body, but each of us is a different part of it.” This suggests that, as different parts of Christ’s Body, each of us has a share, as instruments in God’s hands, in bringing the freeing and saving mission of Christ to our world in our times.
This is a text that speaks unequivocally on interculturality, the DNA of the Arnoldus Family. In our intercultural living, we may come across more differences than similarities amidst us but our affiliation to Arnoldus Family demands that we generously appreciate our similarities and humbly respect our differences. This way, like an orchestra, though with many different instruments produces sweet melody, we can as one Family bear witness to the liberating mission of Christ.
There is a “2% rule” which is based on the findings of sociologist and educator Robert Bellah, author of the best-selling book, Habits of the Heart. Based on his studies he concludes: “We should not underestimate the significance of the small group of people who have a vision of a just and gentle world…The governing values of a whole culture may be changed when 2% of its people have a new vision. Yes, all we need is 2% of the people and we can change an entire culture.
I wonder if we realize just how powerful we, the Arnoldus Family potentially could be. But first, we need to be rooted in the life-giving word and liberate ourselves from our prejudices, pessimism, indifference, judgments, doubts and so on and let the power of the Holy Spirit fill us to define our mission and follow it passionately following the footprints of Jesus, the Lord of liberation and of our beloved Founder, Father Arnold. Amen