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The Good Fruit of Our Faith - Weekday Homily Video

The Good Fruit of Our Faith - Weekday Homily Video

Strengthening family unity  |  Return to the Church

In our gospel today, the Lord responds to some of the criticism He faced from the Scribes and the Pharisees. He uses the example of children’s behavior to illustrate His point. He said that his critics seemed like children playing in a village market. One group invited the other, ‘Come let us play weddings!’ and the other said ‘We don’t feel today like playing happiness.’ The first group said, ‘Alright, come on, let us play funerals!’ The second group said, ‘We don’t feel like playing sadness today.’ No matter what was suggested, the second group did not want to do it; and no matter what was offered, they found fault with it.

Finding Something to Criticize

The Lord highlights further that when John the Baptist came, and isolated himself out in the desert, lived away from regular society, despised food, fasted a lot, and lived off honey and locusts – he was criticized for not enjoying food, cutting himself off from society, and they said he was out of his mind. When Jesus came and He mixed with all sorts of people in society, accompanying them in their joys and sorrows, and enjoying a meal with people like Mary and Martha, and Zacchaeus – they criticized Him for being a party animal. John the Baptist’s asceticism was criticized as madness and Jesus’ sociability was criticized as moral laxity. Either way, the Scribes and Pharisees would find something to criticize.

The first lesson here is that when people do not want to listen to a set of truths, they will find excuses for not listening. The absurdity of it all is that they won’t even try to be consistent in their criticism. They will criticize the same person or institution on two contradictory grounds. When people choose to be stubbornly unresponsive to a message, they will find all sorts of excuses not to respond to a message put before them. In other words, they will refuse to play the game no matter what game you propose to them.

Validity Depends on the Outcome

Then comes the most important line in today’s gospel, “But wisdom is vindicated by her good works.” The validity of something is not merely going to depend on the reasons critics give, rather it is going to depend on the outcomes or the fruits of it all. John the Baptist was criticized for being out of his mind, but he moved people’s hearts towards God in ways that had not been seen in centuries. Jesus was criticized for being too laxed, but in Him people found new life, a new goodness, a new power to live, and a God who was accessible to them.

Faith Helps Us Navigate Adversity

The Alcoholic Anonymous movement was criticized by scientists at its beginnings as not based on any known scientific knowledge, but the lives of people whose lives have been turned around due to its simple methods has vindicated the organization. We live in a world where religion and the practice of the faith is severely criticized by a section of society. What can vindicate people of faith are the fruits of the practice of the faith such as generosity, kindness, forgiveness, patience, love, joy, hope, commitment, and humility. Many of us here know how empty, and self-centered we would be if we did not have the practice of our faith at the center of our lives. Faith has nourished our lives like a tree planted near a running stream, faith has helped us navigate adversity in ways we would never have been able without it.

We pray in this Mass that the Lord exorcises us of a critical and a judgmental spirit. May He imbue us with a spirit that can help us to speak truth in charity to others. We also pray for resilience in our lives, especially amidst criticism, and more importantly, that our lives give authentic witness to God.

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About Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C.

Father Fred Jenga, C.S.C. is the President of Holy Cross Family Ministries. Father Fred, a native of Uganda, has multiple degrees including theology, philosophy, and communications. His native language is Lusoga and he speaks English, Luganda, Kiswahili, and Rutooro. He has been a teacher, researcher, author and family minister. Father Fred is committed to helping build God’s masterpiece one family at a time.