43 Jesus said to his disciples: “A good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit. 44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For people do not pick figs from thornbushes, nor do they gather grapes from brambles. 45 A good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good, but an evil person out of a store of evil produces evil; for from the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks. 46 Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I command? 47 I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. 48 That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built. 49 But the one who listens and does not act is like a person who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, it collapsed at once and was completely destroyed.”
FAITH ON ITS FEET
Jesus began His teaching today by reminding people that a good tree does not bear rotten fruits and a rotten tree does not bear good fruits. As God’s creatures, we have divine qualities that are proper to our humanity. We cultivate them to perfection every time we follow His command.
Then, to further guide His listeners, Jesus gave the parable of the house built on rock, saying that if we are to be strong, consistent and stable in faith, we must build our life in the “lived” Word of God. Having read or heard the Word only accomplishes an encounter with God.
After Mass one Sunday morning, a parishioner approached me and said that I just repeated the homily I gave last year for the same occasion. I thought about it and admitted to him that, yes, it was the same homily. I asked him if there is a problem. He said that it seems I did not prepare a homily. He had a point but repeating a homily is not bad. In fact, the Gospels give a united message: salvation. The Word of God is to communicate this message of salvation.
It is not about giving a new message but in having a new way of communicating the same message. The burden is more on the hearer. Given the right message, the hearer must go and live the message. I looked at the person and answered him, “Yes, I admit I delivered the same homily, the same message. Have you lived it?” Surprised at the table being turned on him, he went away quietly. Hopefully the message was clear to him.
We priests who give homilies are not exempt from living the message. In fact, our witnessing to the Gospel message is the best preaching. If people see the message in our lives, I believe we may already be exempted from giving homilies. The goal is for the message to be received as the Lord had given it.
In preparing a homily, the priest is already confronted by the Word. More than anyone, it is the priest who is first faced with the challenge of the Word. In a way, the delivery of the homily is influenced by how much the priest has been affected by it. Hopefully, the message is not only given but already testified to by the life of the priest. Fr. Benny Tuazon
Do you get tired of hearing the same message at Mass? It is perhaps time to live the message.
Lord, help me to build my life on a strong foundation — Your Word.
(Reflection taken from the Sabbath)