Homily – September 26, 2021

XXVI Sunday in Ordinary Time
Year B

I recently saw something humorous online – a picture of a church sign that read: “Keep using my name in vain and I will make rush hour longer” – God.

Name is a term by which we are identified … it is a word by which a person, an animal, a thing is known. Often a name has a very specific meaning … for example the name Jonathan means ‘Gift from God’ … so you’re welcome! Do you know what the name ‘Jesus’ means? ‘God’s Saves’. At the heart of Jesus’ identity is salvation.

Now, lets understand that there are 2 things to glean from this Gospel today. First, Jesus wants the Apostles to learn that they cannot fall into the trap of ‘exclusivity’ – the notion that it’s not good unless I do it, unless my group runs this, unless it’s done my way – they need to realize that it is the Lord who heals, drives out demons, forgives sins, it is He who saves … not them. There is a lesson in this for us … how often do we want to do things our way, my way – not just regarding church activities, or ministries, but also the practice of the faith. There is a lesson here in humility to allow the Lord to reveal to us, to make known to us His very identity – that He is the savior… and we are here to serve Him.

The second lesson … notice what St. John says: we saw someone driving out demons in your name…” There is the key – the name of Jesus means ‘God’s saves’ … There is power in the name of Jesus. They spoke His name not as an incantation – as like a magic spell. They spoke His name not as empty words or as a simply authority – hey if I say this, our friend will be healed … No, they spoke His name with conviction, with belief in who Jesus is … that there is power in the name of Jesus…

Friends, we have a lot to learn from this Gospel reading today. The lesson here isn’t just about humility. It has a lot to do with faith … with our conviction as to the identity of Jesus Christ – who He really is … Think about it – how many of us have, perhaps mistakenly, used God’s name in vain… carelessly the name of Jesus rolls off our tongue in situations of anger, frustration, in complaining and sadly, in casual conversation … so many people use His name without a real understanding of His identity, of what His name reveals to us – that He is the Savior. Therefore, how we speak His name matters and means something … For example – if you were to witness a family member acting in a way that is unbecoming, immoral, or just plain wrong – you might pull him or her aside and say: that is not how this family behaves. What is the correction: your misbehaving is not how this family name is to be identified … We ought to use the name of Jesus in a way that bespeaks His identity – this requires a deep, personal conviction, a belief in who Jesus is – of His real identity … that He is the Savior and when we act in His name, when we speak His name we do so in a manner that reveals his identity, His love, His forgiveness, His salvation … there is power in the name of Jesus and may this power resonate in our hearts this day …

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