Homily - 20th Sunday OT Year C - Called to Witness

Homily (Sermon) - Called to Witness

The Readings for the twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10
Psalm 39
Hebrews 12:1-4
Luke 12:49-53
[These readings can be found at www.universalis.com for the next few weeks.]

A few years ago I saw a documentary about training police officers, I can’t remember too much about the programme but I remember vividly one scene. The trainees were sat in a class room. The door opened and a lady asked if the lecturer could spare someone for a quick errand. The lecturer dispatched a young man and then turned to the remainder of the class and explained that during this lesson they would watch a film depicting a crime. The villains would be obvious but when questioned about it they were to always blame the victim for the crime. They could make up whatever evidence they wanted, but they all had to agree that the victim of the crime was the villain.

The young man returned from his errand after all this had been said, so knew none of it. They all watched the video and then the lecturer started asking the class what they had seen, what crime had been committed and who they should be arresting.

The whole class had seen a woman robbed of her handbag by two young lads, but when the lecturer started asking the class what they had seen, they described a woman shop lifting and two young men stopping her. The lecturer went round the whole class coming to the young man who had run the errand last. When asked to describe what he saw he described a young woman shoplifting and being stopped by two men.

The lesson for the officers that day was the same as our lesson from scripture today. Do not let peer pressure and the views of the majority around you distract you from the truth you know is real!

You are a witness for Christ in the world. You have witnessed something divine, something that has brought you to a faith in Christ. Here in church, surrounded by your fellow witnesses, your sisters and brothers in Christ, it’s easy to believe. It’s easy to once again hear, see, touch and taste the divine. To witness again, to know completely the love of God.

But then you leave here, sent out into the real world, the secular world, the world of challenge and doubt. The world where common sense prevails and you can be perceived as the fool for your beliefs.

It’s not easy being a Christian today. True there have been worse times and places to follow God. Jeremiah got thrown in the well to be left for dead because the King was swayed by the common sense of the people. But the same thing can still happen today, Bishop Óscar Romero, was assassinated in 1980 for his views on wealth and poverty and the work his priests were doing.

We live in a world that is driven by wealth. We are fallen people, greed is a part of us, but it’s not a good part. It’s one of the parts we need to fight. We are taught by a loving God to put others first, to follow His teachings. Love God and Love our neighbour. The problem for us is that we can be very softly persecuted for those views. Our society believes that wealth is success, that possessions define the person, that you should have what you want, when you want it, because you are worth it.

I believe you are worth so much more than that. I believe Christ called you his brothers and sisters. I believe you are the adopted children of God.

Christ tells us today, he didn't come to bring peace on earth. He knew the message he brought would cause conflict, sometimes violent conflict but much more often intellectual conflict, differences between friends and families. Differences between you and the people you meet every day of your life. The peace of Christ is not yet for the world, but it is for you. “Peace I leave you, my peace I give you” words you hear every time you come to Mass. This is what you need to take and hold onto when you venture out into the world. You are called to follow Christ to the Cross, You are called to be Christ in this world today. You are called to witness.

Do you know what the word for witness was back in New Testament times? It was Martyr!

I don’t believe that you will be killed and Martyred for your views today in this country. I do think you might be ignored or laughed at. That your witness to the truth will be belittled as old fashioned and not relevant any more. I do think that Christianity today makes people uncomfortable. And I know that it’s never easy being the one person in the room that disagrees with everyone else.

Today’s readings and today’s lesson are not an easy to hear. You believe, and because you believe you must witness, because you do, others will also be given the chance to believe. But for that to happen you must stay true in your witness, you may not be martyred with violence, you are much more likely to be martyred with indifference and dismissal.

When this happens to you and you feel low and cast down, come back to Church, come back to your family, comeback to the Eucharist, come back and experience again the divine. Know that it is Christ who will pull you from the mud and set you back upon the rock.

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