12th Sunday O T Year C – 16
Zechariah-11 / Gal.3:26-29 / Luke 9:18-24
Whenever we talk about history, it may seem to be like a burden to the mind especially when it comes to dates, events, places and names that are difficult to pronounce. But this where we need to remember that history is formed by people, regardless of whether they are famous or not.
The word “history” is from Greek “historia” and it means a learning or knowing by inquiry, or an investigation. So it can be said that history makes an inquiry or investigation of the lives of the famous people in the past and gives us an account of their lives.
With regards to that, let us look at these two questions:
Question 1: If you knew a woman who was pregnant, who had 8 kids already, three who were deaf, two who were blind, one mentally retarded, and she had syphilis; would you recommend that she have an abortion?
And as we think about the answer to that question, let us look at the second question. It is time to elect a new world leader, and your vote counts. Here are the facts about the three leading candidates:
Candidate A: He associates with crooked politicians, and consults with astrologists. He’s had two mistresses. He also chains smokes and drinks 8 to 10 martinis a day.
Candidate B: He was kicked out of office twice, sleeps until noon, used opium in college and drinks a quart of whisky every evening.
Candidate C: He is a decorated war hero. He’s a vegetarian, doesn’t smoke, drinks an occasional beer and hasn’t had any extramarital affairs.
Which of these candidates would be your choice? Here are the identities of the three candidates – Candidate A is Franklin D. Roosevelt (served as the President of the United States from 1933 to 1945), Candidate B is Winston Churchill (who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955), Candidate C is Adolf Hitler (leader of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945).
And by the way, back to the first question: the answer to the abortion question is that if we said yes, then we just killed Beethoven (one of the most famous and influential of all composers).
So history has a way of making an inquiry or investigation into the lives of famous people and giving an account of their lives. In the gospel, Jesus asked two questions – who do the crowds say He is, and who do the disciples say He is.
The first question was relatively easy as the disciples gave Him the opinion of the crowds – John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the ancient prophets come back to life. The second question was rather difficult as they had to give their own opinion of who Jesus is. While the other disciples were thinking of what kind of answer to give, it was Peter who spoke up and said that Jesus was the Christ of God. But whether he knew what he was saying is another matter.
And here is where Jesus gave two teachings – one about Himself and the other about us. He said that He was destined to suffer grievously, to be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and to be put to death, and to be raised up on the third day.
And then to all He said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross every day and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, that man will save it.”
The first was fulfilled, as we know, on the cross, that Jesus suffered and died, and rose again. The second is for us to understand and believe and by which we will give an account of our lives. There is a story of a wise man who had an opponent who criticized him for everything he said and did.
Then one day someone came up to the wise man and said excitedly, “Master, do you know what I just heard about your opponent?” The wise man replied, “Before you tell me I’d like you to pass a little test first. It’s called the Triple Filter Test. Let us take a moment to filter what you are going to say.
The first filter is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?” The man said “No, actually I just heard about it.” The wise man said, “So you don’t really know if it’s true or not.
Now let’s try the second filter, the filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my opponent something good?” The man replied, “No, on the contrary…” “So,” the wise man continued, “You want to tell me something about my opponent that may be bad, even though you’re not certain if it’s true?” The man shrugged, and felt a little embarrassed.
The wise man continued, “You may still pass the test though, because there is a third filter, the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my opponent going to be useful to me?” The man replied, “No, not really.”
“Well,” the wise man concluded, “If what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, then why tell it to me or to anyone at all?” So what we want to hear is what is true, what is good and what is useful to us.
In the gospel, Jesus told us the Truth about Himself – that He will suffer and die on the cross so as to save us. He also told us what is good and what is useful to us – that we must take up our cross and follow Him.
In order for Jesus to save us, we too must live by the truth and speak the truth. Like Jesus, we pour out our lives to do good and speak what is good so that it will do good to others and be useful for them. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. History has given us an account of His life and proved that He is the Savior.
May we too live by His Truth, and do what is good and help others to be saved. Then we would be able to give an account of our lives before Jesus and before others.