Homily for July 1, XIII Sunday in Ordinary Time, year B
“God formed man to be imperishable; the image of his own nature he made him. But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world…”
The first reading today highlights a key truth of our faith: God created the world good, and from the very beginning wanted human beings, whom He created in His image and likeness, to have a life free from suffering and death. But, even though He had created all things good, God also made some of His creations with free will, the first of which were the angels. Some of the angels rebelled against God, including the spirit we now call the devil, or Satan. Satan saw that God created human beings in His own image and that they had friendship with and gifts from God, which he himself had lost. So he seduced those first humans, named Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis, and led them into disobeying God. It was through that original sin that they lost the special gifts God had given them. From then on they were subject to suffering and death, and lost the equilibrium of their will and their passions, so that they became prone to sin. This loss of grace affects all the human race, which was born from those first parents. We experience the effects of it in the conflicts that plague every kind of human relationship, and the difficulties of our daily lives.
But God did not abandon us. He still wants us to have eternal life and happiness, and in Jesus Christ, He gave us a new and even better form of life. As St. Paul says in the second reading, Jesus, “though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” God the Son became a human being, suffering and dying for us, “becoming poor”, so that we might partake of His richness of life. We are not only made in His image; we are now, in Christ, made adoptive children of God. We do not yet see God face to face as Adam and Eve did – we will only do that in heaven – but already in this life, God Himself comes to heal our souls and dwell in us through Baptism. We receive Him in the Eucharist, which is a privilege even angels cannot claim. We have the means to be healed and forgiven for our sins after Baptism, especially through the sacrament of Reconciliation, which cleanses our guilt and renews our friendship with God even when we have merited eternal condemnation by our sins. Although we still have to face suffering and death, we have the promise of resurrection on the last day.
This all sounds great, but how do we know it’s true? Jesus showed us His power during His public life on earth. As we hear in the Gospel today, He healed the sick and raised the dead. In some cases, He explicitly performed these miracles as signs of His power to forgive sins and to give us eternal life. The greatest proof of all, of course, was His own resurrection from the dead.
This is a very powerful, radical, and counter-cultural message. Sometimes we can sort of get used to it, take it for granted, and let it slip into the background of our lives. We can forget that the daily, practical necessities, worries, and joys of life in this world should be lived as preparation for life beyond this world. May God help us to renew and strengthen our faith in these great truths, so that they guide us in our daily lives. May we live God’s commandments to love Him and one another, and may we participate in the sacraments with gratitude and enthusiasm, appreciating the great gift we have received in Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer.