St. Dominic Catholic Church

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2020-7-5 There Is a God and It's Not You 14th Sun Yr. A Fr. Roberto



Homily for 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time – Year A + Fourth of July Weekend
Fr.  Roberto Corral, OP
St. Dominic’s Church, Los Angeles, CA
July 5, 2020

Title: There Is a God, and It’s Not You
Theme: We must humbly let go and let God be God.
Readings: Zechariah 9:9-10; Romans 8:9, 11-13; Matthew 11:25-30

There are two extremely important things your Catholic faith has to teach you. Are you ready? Here they are. #1: there is a God, and #2: it’s not you. You got it? There is a God, and it is not you or me. And I dare say the second thing is the more difficult for us to learn. There is a saying that, in the beginning, God created us human beings in his image; and ever since then, we have been trying to return the favor. In other words, we continually try to make God in our image. The reality is that you and I sometimes try to be God, and we also try to make God look like us. For example, if we are white, we often make God look like an old white man with a long white beard. If we are Asian, we make God look Asian, or Latino, or Black or whatever color, race or culture we are. 

Not only do we try to make God look like us, we also at times try to make God think like us and act like us. For example, if we are American, we are tempted to make God American and believe he is always on our side and against our enemies. So, we believe God loved us and hated the Germans and the Japanese in WWII. And today we believe God loves us and hates the Russians and the Chinese and the North Koreans. Similarly, for centuries we Catholics believed that God loved us and hated those darned Protestants and was going to send them all to hell. Nowadays, the Protestants are okay, but it’s the Muslims that God really cannot stand. It is amazing how we human beings have this capacity of making God uphold our values, our beliefs and our prejudices. Just about every religion and every culture have this same tendency.

The antidote to this kind of thinking is mentioned in our first reading and in our Gospel today. In order for us to learn that there is a God and it’s not us, and that we cannot make God in our image, we need humility. Our first reading from the prophet Zechariah proclaimed: “See, your king shall come to you; a just savior is he, meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass.” These words of Zechariah were fulfilled seven centuries after he spoke them when Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey on Palm Sunday. Jesus was and is that meek and humble savior who continues to come to us. In fact, in the Gospel, Jesus says of himself, “I am meek and humble of heart.” The amazing humility of Jesus is a great example and challenge for all of us. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he tells us that Jesus “emptied himself” of all the power and glory he had as God in order to become a human being and especially in order for him to suffer and die for us on the cross. As Christians, the ultimate goal of our lives is to become more and more like Jesus. Therefore, that means that we too have to empty ourselves. We have to empty ourselves of ourselves which entails emptying ourselves of our ego, of placing our needs and wants before anyone else’s, and of our agenda in trying to control our own lives, our loved ones’ lives and our world.
One small way we can try to empty ourselves of ourselves is not to be like the people who, during this pandemic, continually refuse to follow the safety protocols of wearing a mask in public, maintaining social distancing, and who continue going to the beaches and restaurants or large public gatherings without protecting themselves. These people are showing that their freedom and their needs and desires are more important than everyone’s safety and the common good.

Now, on this Fourth of July weekend, I would like to expand this idea of the need for humility to include not only us as individuals, but also us as a country. There are many wonderful things about the United States and our life here; however, all too often, our American mentality can be that we do not need others: we are a superpower, we are self-sufficient and we can do as we want. As I say in my bulletin message today, patriotism is a good thing, but it does not mean that we are always the best or always right or that we do not need the rest of the world – that is not patriotism; that is idolatry, that is making our country like God. If we truly love our country, then let us work to make it better than it is. Let us work together to overcome this pandemic. Let us work together to overcome racism, prejudice, the abuse of power and the cancer of materialism. Again and again, in the United States, God and religion are being pushed to the side, considered outdated and irrelevant. But the truth is, we as individuals and we as a country need God now more than ever. Amen? Amen! 

So, my brothers and sisters, let us follow the example of Jesus’ humility and empty ourselves of ourselves. Let us value every person, whatever their color, culture, race, religion or economic class. Let us listen to each other and work together with respect, patience and compassion and not just think of ourselves, our families, our political party or our religion. And let us recognize just how much we need God in our lives and in our country.