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June 9th 2002

Catholic Homilies
June 9th 2002

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10th Sunday in Ordinary Time


This reading is a challenge to all who want to use Jesus as an example for how to live a life that reveals God’s love and mercy. The Pharisees are used here to represent those who believe in the letter of the law. Since other scripture stories tell of times when the disciples also had problems with those who they deemed as sinners, Jesus uses the example of the Pharisees, with their strict adherence to rules and rituals, to teach about the depth and breath of Divine mercy. This confused his listeners as it often confuses us.

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Once upon a time there was a suburban parish that had a reputation for being a "great" parish – there was something for everyone. The preaching was good; the priests were understanding; the choir outstanding; the people involved. One year on the first day of school, a new boy and girl presented themselves in the second and fourth grade class rooms. It was obvious to the mothers who had walked their children to school that these children did not "belong" in their community. They were poorly dressed, as was their mother. Rumors had spread about the family when she moved into the community a few weeks earlier. Some said her husband was in prison on a murder charge. Others heard that each child had a different father. Still others heard that they were part of some radical political group that crusaded against discrimination in the suburb. The school secretary heard a group of mothers discussing what they might do to discourage their children from playing with these newcomers. Of course, the secretary passed the word on to the pastor. The following Sunday, the pastor preached about the need to follow the example of Jesus who had to remind his disciples that mercy was more important than justice.

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