Homilette for Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

(Genesis 21:5.8-20a; Matthew 8:28-34)

The townspeople of the gospel today seem like ingrates after Jesus relieves them of a public menace. They beg Jesus to leave their territory because he has cast out demons from two men who threatened travelers. But these people, who are pagan, may be just unsure of who Jesus is. Obviously he has supernatural power. Will he now use it against them? They simply do not want to take any chances.

Much of Matthew’s gospel probes the question, who is Jesus? His words calm storms and heal people’s lifelong illnesses. His teaching based on purity of heart possesses an authority that converts prostitutes and swindlers to righteousness. Jews as well as pagans wonder about the nature of this authority. Near the end the aristocracy of Jerusalem condemns him to death as an enemy of the people. But the final verdict is made by an objective observer, the pagan soldier who after seeing Jesus suffer nobly, declares, “Truly, this was the son of God.”

Many today wonder not so much about Jesus's identity but about the legacy he has left. They question whether Christians truly live the righteousness that Jesus taught. Although Christian virtue is bountifully manifest in figures like St. Francis, there is always evidence of coexistent vice. By daily pursuing the good in his name, we give mounting evidence that Jesus is truly the son of God.