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Bishop's Homily for the Fifteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

July 11, 2021

[St. Michael Church, Waialua (Pastor Installation); St. Roch Church, Kahuku (Pastor Installation)]

What are your credentials?  What is your background?  What training do you have?  Who do you think you are?

If you were told to go out and heal the sick, to proclaim the Gospel, and to call people to repentance, these are questions you might ask of yourself.  What credentials do I have to do that?  What background and training do I have?  Who am I to do these things?  Yet, it is you who are commissioned to do these very things by virtue of your Baptism.  You may not have heard the Lord’s call or responded to it yet, but you are indeed called to do these incredible things.  You do them not by your own authority but by the authority of Christ himself.  You don’t need walking stick, traveling bag, theology degree, a second tunic or a second call to do this.  You are already commissioned by the Lord himself, and you have the ability to do this by the power of the Holy Spirit.

How many people do you know – perhaps in your own family or workplace – who do not know the Lord Jesus except as a person from the history books?  How many have never had a living relationship with the living one – who died and rose from the dead and is still very much with us, especially here in the Eucharist, in which is he physically present to us?  How will they ever hear of his love and come to know him unless you are the witness and accept your mission to be a prophet?  You do not need to be a professional preacher or a clergyperson to fulfill this mission, because the Lord has already given it to you.  You became a member of the Church at your Baptism, and it is the essential mission of the Church to evangelize, to share the Good News of Jesus.

The prophet Amos was criticized when he prophesized, but to his critic he made very clear that he was just a shepherd and a tender of trees, but that he was simply following the Lord’s will for him.

We often come to Mass thinking that this is all the Lord requires of us, one hour a week to worship him.  But, in fact, he requires much more.  It is essential that we come here first, because here we meet the risen Lord physically, hearing his living Word and taking him into ourselves as we enter into communion with him and one another.  But he gives us this extraordinary gift of himself so that he can feed not only us, but the multitudes of people we touch every day of our lives.  While we do not need fancy degrees or credentials, we cannot go out without first entering into intimate communion with Jesus.  If we do, we are likely to preach ourselves or a false gospel rather than to share Jesus and his amazing love.  With him, we need nothing else.

Sometimes we do not share our faith in Jesus with others because we fear they will reject us.  Jesus made clear that this could very well happen.  It happened to him, and he told his disciples that some would simply not listen to them.  If that is the case, we should just move on, hoping that we have at least planted some seeds that will bear fruit at a later time.  So success is not the measure of our ministry, but fidelity to the Lord’s call.

If we are faithful to this call, we can be instruments of the Lord’s healing power.  Visiting the sick and praying for them can itself be tremendously healing.  But there are other sicknesses that are more spiritual, and we can heal them in the name of Jesus if we just reach out to an addicted friend, to a depressed colleague, or to a person who is trying to find the meaning of life in all the wrong places.

There are demons we can cast out as well.  There are so many demons on the internet as people have such disrespect for one another there.  Yet we can be a shining light that always interacts with respect, treating everyone, no matter how troublesome, with dignity.  There are demons of greed that control people who try to get ahead in life without thinking of honesty or of people they may be hurting, and we can cast out those demons by witnessing to a simplicity of life.

We can easily say, “Who am I to do these things?  What credentials or equipment do I have?”  Yet the Lord assures us that he can use the least and the lowliest among us to accomplish his work.  It will be our greatest joy to fulfill this difficult but wonderful mission that is entrusted to every one of us who know the love of the Lord Jesus.