March 3rd, Eight Sun in Ordinary Time C

Introduction

“A man’s words flow out of what fills his heart”. Our scripture today asks us to speak out of a pure heart. “Do not praise a man before he has spoken” the first reading says and Christ asks us to avoid judgmental condemnation of others in speech. Let confess ways we may have misjudged or maligned others by gossip.

Homily

In the last war, at Auschwitch, the worst of the concentration camps, there was a Rabbi. The head guard in the camp treated him badly. When the camp was liberated, inmates gathered round this guard to hang him. But the Rabbi stopped them: “if you kill him you’ll have to kill me”, he said, “we must show mercy, otherwise we’re as bad as he is”. The reading for today say the same. We must not judge and condemn people arbitrarily, but forgive, and let the law decide if they’ve done something wrong.

For too often we play God. We judge and condemn people in salacious gossip, or shape God’s justice according to our own vindictiveness. Unfortunately religious people, I say this with shame, are often worst in this regard. Jesus confronted the Pharisees who wanted to stone to death the woman caught in adultery. He said: “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. So we must be very careful that we don’t create a harsh God in our image. God warns us in today’s reading not to judge others for we’re all sinners and in need of mercy. Not must we claim God for our bigoted views. That’s what gives religion a bad name – from Bin Laden to fundamentalist Christians. There is no room for hate or bigotry in the worship of the true God.

In fact, if we want to even remotely come close to God, we must continually widen our thinking. We must have ever bigger hearts, ever more generous souls. That is what scripture tells us today. Words of generosity should flow from the store of goodness in our hearts. Like the parable of the vineyard we must be generous enough to let those who toiled all day got the same as the late starters. They got what they had agreed on, the master was not being unjust. Narrow jealously and envy caused their anger. They hated the master’s generosity. Like so many strict religious people, they would condemn all those who don’t think as they do. But with God all are loved, even sinners who if they repents are welcomed in with open arms, even at the last moment of the day.

For God’s ways are not our ways; his thoughts aren’t ours.

Even so-called liberal secularists can be so narrow minded in aspects of their agenda, so closed to God or faith, so harsh in their tribunals and relentless media witch hunts. God’s ways aren’t so narrow either, they are broad and generous as the heavens. All his children are loved equally, without prejudice.

But some are envious because he is generous. Lets not fall into that trap but open our hearts and minds, judge no one. Lets be as generous and all-embracing as Christ. Indeed, if we come remotely close to that we’ll be saints. And as Christians that is what all of us are called to be. “Why are you envious because I am generous”, our God says, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, my ways are not your ways”. Let us stop casting God in our own image, a false God. Lets instead obey the first commandment, the key one. let us make our life an imitation of the true God. For only he or she can make us open, loving, and spiritually alive human beings in Christ who embraced all, forgave all on the cross of shame, and was made lord of all life forever and ever, amen. So in His light lets profess our faith with free open hearts..

Prayers of the faithful

And as the people of God lets pray to Our gracious Father in heaven for the things that we truly need to be holy like he is.

For church leaders that in their speeches and pastoral letters they may encourage and inspire the faithful, and indeed those of the wider world of good will, to follow the way of God..

For civil leaders, may they not indulge in demagoguery but use words in their speeches that lead all in justice and truth..

For our youth that inspired by Jesus’s words in the Gospel and following his gracious way they may come to fullness of life, peace and happiness for this world and for eternity.

For mothers and fathers in the home, that they words they use in the home may not beat their children down, or hurt them, but build them up with the peaceful message of open caring love..

For the sick, the old and the lonely that we may come to speak with and heal them with our friendly chat and attentive care..

For the dead that through the kind prayers we speak on their behalf before God they may come safely home to heaven..

And we ask all these prayers through Christ who intercedes for us always before his Father in heaven, amen.

Reflection

Words can be powerful, like those of Shakespeare or the great poets they can inspire us to do the right things and liberate others from slavery. But words can also do harm. Like the word of Hitler in his speeches; millions cheered him to the echo and went out under the spell of his words to do untold evil. Just as the nagging wife or husband, or the over-strict father or mother can stunt the growing child. The old saying was that if you couldn’t say something good about a person say nothing. Scripture says we should say only words that praise and build up. And if criticism is needed, it should be given in a gentle spirit. So lets be careful of the words we use and conscious of how they can hurt people in their feelings. Lets ask Mother Mary to make us wise, gentle and non-judgmental in our speech..Hail Mary

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