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Homily for the Lord’s Day Mass at Urawa Church



The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time


18:30, January 30, 2016

Before starting the Mass, we said the Prayer of Pope Francis for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. The third stanza prays as follows:

“Send your Spirit and consecrate every one of us with His anointing,
so that the Jubilee of Mercy may be a year of grace from the Lord,
and your Church, with renewed enthusiasm, may bring good news to the poor,
proclaim liberty to captives and the oppressed,
and restore sight to the blind.”

Today’s Gospel reading carries on from that of the Lord’s Day last week.
Jesus read from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah at the synagogue at Nazareth where he had been brought up. The passage was from Ch. 61 in which “the year of the Lord’s favor” is proclaimed. Then he declares, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). All in the synagogue were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They spoke well of him, and said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” (Luke 4:22)
This doesn’t sound like the expression to respect Joseph and hold him in high esteem. The people probably wondered why a son of Joseph the carpenter could have made such a bold remark. Matthew’s Gospel describes Joseph as follows: Jesus “came to his home town and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, ‘Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?’ And they took offence at him.” (Matthew 13:54-57)

In their eyes Joseph might just be considered as an ordinary carpenter. He seemed very modest and reticent. The truth is, Joseph was a great saint, a man of faith.
Think of Mary’s conception by the Holy Spirit, their marriage, the family’s flight into Egypt, and their settlement in Nazareth. What an important role Joseph played in Jesus’ birth and growth! Tradition has it that he had passed away quietly before Jesus began his public ministry. The veneration of Joseph has grown wider throughout the centuries, and we can recall how Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI initiated to insert the name of St. Joseph in all the Eucharistic Prayers.

Now Jesus went on to say, “Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town.” (Luke 4:24) Then he explained the mission of prophets by giving examples from the Old Testament. The people of Nazareth were filled with fury. They didn’t understand what Jesus said about the mission of prophets. They might have regarded it as bringing some results of specific graces at such a small area as Nazareth.

A prophet is a person who proclaims the word of God, and the word of God is not convenient or comfortable to people. Among famous prophets is Jeremiah, whose story was in the first reading today. Jeremiah was commanded by Lord God to prophesy the sins of Judah and the fall of the kingdom caused by them. It was a tough task.

God says to Jeremiah, “Do not break down before them” (Jeremiah 1:17). It is difficult for humans to announce something that offends the hearers. We cannot help but break down. Nevertheless, God told Jeremiah not to break down.
The suffering of the prophet Jeremiah is thought to prefigure the passion of Jesus.

Today’s second reading is from Ch. 13 of the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians, which is often called “the canticle of love.” Paul describes love, for which he originally uses “agape” in Greek:

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1Corinthians 13:4-7)

Love is very modest. It reminds us of the life of St. Joseph.
We’re now living in the Extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy. Jesus Christ is the face of God’s Mercy. The mercy of God was fully revealed in the life of Jesus. We can say that “mercy” overlaps with love as agape. Let us pray that we may know the love of God deeper and deeper.


[All the Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition (NRSVCE), copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]

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