Homily

In our 1st reading from the prophet Malachi, Malachi lashed out at the priests of his day and in our 3rd reading from the gospel according to Matthew, Jesus lashed out at the priests of his day for missing the real truth, God's message.

There is a little story I came across which might help us understand this kind of circumstance. "There was a very proud lion who decided to take a walk through the forest to demonstrate his mastery over all other creatures. He strutted his way through the forest and came across a bear and he asked him, "Who is the king of the jungle?" and of course the bear answered, 'Why you are great lion." Then he came across a tiger who he asked the same question and he got the same answer. Next the lion found an elephant who he asked the same question. The elephant instantly grabbed the lion in his trunk, spun him around a few times, slammed him to the ground, stepped on him a few times, picked him up and dunked him in the water and then threw him into a tree. The lion staggered to his feet and said: 'Look, just because you don't know the answer, you don't have to get so upset!" The lion was the one who wasn't getting it. He was missing the truth, just as was true for the priests and leaders at the time of Malachi and Jesus to whom Malachi and Jesus gave an elephantine shock treatment."

The first sentence in the book of Malachi reads: "I am Malachi, and this is the message that God gave me for Israel." The people of Judah had returned from exile in Babylonia, the Temple had been rebuilt but the people of Judah were insulting God by offering worthless food, offering animals that were blind, cripple or sick. Malachi writes: "Just try giving those animals to your governor. They were showing no respect for the temple, were not teaching God's messages and were disobeying God's laws. So he tried to wake them up and lashed out at them.

In the account from Matthew Jesus was under fire and he lashed out at them for rejecting him as the Messiah, and for not living what they preached. He emphasized that God is the Father of all and the ultimate Teacher. God had given them the 10 commandments and they had taken those 10 and the 613 minor ones in Scripture and they had added thousands of rules and regulations making their religion a depressing affair of burdens and prohibitions. In contrast Jesus' taught them that underlying the 10 Commandments was reverence and respect for God, God's name, God's day and for the parents which God has given them, for life, for the other people in their life and for their possessions. He as well taught and teaches that he offers an easy yoke, a light burden and rest for their soul. Essentially a way to apply God's Laws in a way that obedience to them is truly less burdensome. Somehow the priests and the leaders of the community just weren't getting it and Jesus saw the need to lash out.

It is easy to read the Gospel and start pointing the finger at others, but the important thing is for us to see how it applies in our lives, because the Gospel as does Paul's epistle is addressed to each of us. Today's reading from St. Paul's letter to the Thessalonians provides a great example of a beautiful way of following the teachings of Jesus and truly understanding the truth and living it. He told the Thessalonians that it takes courage to spread the message of Jesus, to tell the Good News and trust God's message. Paul didn't speak to please people but to please God. He tells them and us that he didn't try to flatter or get praise for himself and it wasn't a coverup for greed. His is a tough act to follow but it is the act that God wants us to follow.

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