General, Joy of the Gospel

‘Tell them: The Kingdom of God is close to you’

Homily for the 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year – C, (3rd July, 2022)
“Tell them: The Kingdom of God is close to you”.
Fr. Siby Kuriakose, Kavattu CMI
St. Charles Lwanga Seminary
Windhoek, Namibia

Today the 14th Sunday of ordinary time, the liturgy of the word invites us to reflect up on our vocation and mission to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel to all generation and to invite everyone to believe in God and in Jesus Christ. The catch-word to understand and appropriate today’s message of the Word is ‘Kerygma’ which means preaching or proclamation. All three readings point to the urgent need of the proclamation of the Good News of God’s Kingdom and assure abundance of divine assistance to those who undertake this mission.
The first reading, from the Book of Isaiah (66:10-14c) is God’s promise of prosperity and abundance on Jerusalem and on all who are associated with her. Those who rely on God and those who belong to Him through their allegiance and affinity will enjoy comfort in tribulations and they will flourish in every aspect of their life. It alludes directly to the New Jerusalem, the Church in which we find our consolation, comfort and abundance through the Word of God, that is proclaimed and the sacraments that are celebrated, especially the sacrament of the Eucharist.
The second reading, from the Letter of St Paul to Galatians (6:14-18) is an appraisal of Christian life, which amidst tribulations and suffering leads to glory and eternal salvation, in the model of the apostles and the followers of Christ, especially of St Paul. St Paul encourages the Galatians to be confident in the Lord and be perseverant in their suffering from with-in (Judizers/heretics) and with-out (gentiles/pagans). When troubles and tribulations arise, we should be finding our consolation on the cross and remember that the promise of God will always be realized, sooner or later. We should have perseverance and wait with patience. We should not be discouraged, because the evil has been already defeated and the victory of the Kingdom of God is assured.
Today’s Gospel passage highlights the missionary dignity of each Christian and the emergency of proclaiming the Word of God to all creatures. The content of the preaching (Kerygma) is that ‘the Kingdom of God has come near to you’. It confirms that we are all called to share the message of the Kingdom of God with others, announcing the Good News of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Jesus had already sent the group of the Twelve on a mission (Lk 9:1-6). In today’s Gospel we see that He sends ‘seventy-two more’. It is a mission which prepares and announces the definitive mission that they will receive from the risen Jesus (Lk 24:45-49; Acts 1:8). The mission defines the reality and the very identity of the Church, that the Church exists and works only to evangelize. The missionary initiative is essentially God’s work and human beings are incorporated in to the work of God as missionaries.
Today Jesus is sending all of us to the whole world to proclaim the Good News. Just as Jesus says, the harvest is abundant but those who have gone to gather are very few. After sending us to the world to preach the Good News, He does not guarantee us a smooth sailing. This is because the comfort of this world would not lead us to heaven, but the absence of it. Self-sacrifice of the earthly pleasures, wealth, joy and comfort is what Jesus is advocating for. He also warns us not to be distracted by insults, ridicule or persecutions as we endeavour to proclaim the Good News. He wants us to embrace humility, love and peace as we go out there to proclaim His Kingdom.
Reflecting upon today’s Gospel, St. John Chrysostom states: “The Christian is a man/human being to whom God entrusts all men/human beings”. Charles de Foucauld speaks of two cornerstones of evangelization: ‘to be (exist) and to speak (proclaim)’. According to him, Christian life is ‘shouting the Gospel with life’, that is by cultivating a profound relationship with God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) and with others (family, colleagues, companions etc.) a Christian radiates the life of God and through his/her words and actions, and people could feel the beating of the heart of God.
St John Paul II invites everyone, especially the young people: “Courage young people! Christ is calling you and the world awaits you … Do not be afraid to assume your responsibilities: the Church needs you … the Pope needs you and, at the beginning of this new millennium, he asks you to take the Gospel to the roads of the world”. Pope Fransis exhorts everyone in Evangelii Gaudium: “The joy of the Gospel fills the heart and the whole life of those who meet Jesus”.