Fr Thomas’ Homily for the 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

For God’s Sake, Be Merciful and Good

Being at home with my mother and siblings, especially the sick ones, was good. Sr Tomsy, the one you all have been praying for, continues to be in need of it. But I could not be away from my adopted home, my parish, for long. Many of you have commented on the cheerful presence of Fr Mirko. He in turn also feels very much welcome to the parish. Thanks to all parishioners for making him feel so.

While I was on holidays, I read a message on the social media calling Christians to retaliate the recent violence they have been experiencing. The author listed a number of recent attacks on Christian churches and other attacks. He was amazed that the Christians do not retaliate! That is true: The Christians in India, in spite of much provocation, do not retaliate.  When Graham Stains, a Christin missionary, was burned to death, along with his two sons (aged just 10 & 6) in 1999, the Hindu fanatics expected revenge attacks. But their plan to escalate violence was frustrated when Gladys, forgave the killers of her husband and sons. She went one more step further and announced that she will continue her mission work in India. This is not an isolated case. Sister Rani Maria, who tirelessly worked for the welfare of the down trodden, was assassinated in 1995.  The evil doers who took delight in persecuting the Christians, were expecting violent retaliation. To frustrate them further, a powerful expression of the forgiving love was given by Rani Maria’s younger sister, Sr. Selmy Paul FCC, in what became national news.  Rightly interpreting the mind of her elder sister, Sr. Selmy visited Samundhar Singh, the assassin of Rani Maria, in the Indore Central Jail. On the occasion of the eighth death anniversary of Sr. Rani Maria, her mother Eliswa visited the jail and kissed the hands of the daughter’s assassin!  The Christian reaction is not revengeful; it is always forgiving. That is why when ‘The Guardian’ newspaper reported (27 Dec 2021) that there were more than 300 documented attacks on Christians across India in the first nine months of 2021, there were no revenge plans made by the Church. Where do the Christians get the spiritual strength to do so?

The Bible teaches “Jesus said: “But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”” (Luke 6:27-31).

Our natural tendency is to think of revenge as self-protection, when attacked. Jesus teaches that there is another way to act, the way that reflects God’s love, which will be life giving rather than destroying peace and joy that you look for. Therefore, doing good to another should not be based on what they have done to you or what reward you might get.  Always do good to others because you want to be good as God is to you. Do not let the evil doers drag you to their way of misery.  The purpose of our generosity is to reflect God’s generosity, not the expectation of any rewards.