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Homily for Fri of the 9th Wk in Ordinary Time, 09 June 2023, Mk 12:35-37

Our first reading is about a son who comes home to his father. The son is Tobias; his father is Tobit. Tobias had left home with a mission—to collect the money his father had loaned to a relative, and which the family now badly needs because Tobit had gone blind, lost his job, and gone through very hard times in spite of his being a righteous man.

The son Tobias comes home, not just with his mission accomplished, he also brings home the medicine his father needs in order to regain his sight. He has been mentored by the angel Raphael in disguise all throughout his journey. He had also left alone but is now returning with a wife—Sarah, the woman whom Tobias has liberated from a curse and to whom he has proposed marriage. In short, the son comes home to vindicate his father, as well as Sarah.

In our Gospel, Jesus is reacting to the Pharisees who look down on him because he is a Galilean. These Pharisees are also scornfuly reacting to people who say that Jesus is the much-awaited Messiah. They say he should come from Bethlehem in Judea and is supposed to be a descendant of King David.

I have a feeling that these Pharisees were the “Marites” type. They must have gathered information that although Jesus could indeed be called a son of David, because he was publicly known to be a Son of Joseph of Bethlehem who indeed comes from David’s line. But there were people in his hometown Bethlehem who refused to welcome him because of the intrigue that Mary’s son was conceived out of wedlock, that Mary was already pregnant when Joseph took her as his wife. That story is in Matthew. No wonder they raised the issue—whose son is he?

He is a son whom Joseph himself, a native of Bethlehem in Judea, has accepted as his own, but whom his fellow Judeans are rejecting. In the Gospel, Jesus has a funny way of addressing the intrigue about his origins. He uses Psalm 110 which is called a “Psalm of David”. He comments that, if this Psalm is written by David (as is taken for granted by Jewish tradition), and the writer is referring to the supposed Messiah, Son of David as “my lord” being addressed by Yahweh (The Lord): “The LORD said to my lord…” then the Pharisees should see how ridiculous it is for David, the supposed writer, to refer to his son as “my lord.”

“The Lord said to my lord, sit at my right hand while I make your enemies your footstool. ” (Ps 110:1) Apparently, the Pharisees presuppose that this is about the Messiah who will be enthroned and seated at the right hand of God. His point is, the psalmist must be referring here to someone who is more than a Son of David. God is the one who is talking to him like a Father to a Son, a father who is glorified and vindicated by his son’s homecoming.

Richard Rohr once wrote in his book, “The Wild Man’s Journey” that part of the saga that every male child must experience, if he is to realize his masculine identity is TO LEAVE HOME AND COME BACK WITH A GIFT. Leaving home is a painful experience , but it is like a rite of passage that the son has to undergo in order to grow. He has to learn at some point to let go, as it were, of his attachment to his parents’ home, so that he can achieve his life’s purpose and come back with the gift of a newfound self, the way Tobiah came home and accomplished his father’s vindication after suffering from humiliation.

Nowadays we live in societies that tend to raise male children like entitled brats who never really experience “leaving home” to achieve their life’s mission and purpose. They claim a seat on the Father’s throne, never getting to realize that this is not possible unless they go through the rite of passage from being trampled underfoot like a footstool to being elevated at God’s right hand. It is only then that they themselves could trample on the footstool where the arrogant brats have to find themselves eventually.

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Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

Rev. Fr. Anton CT Pascual

President of Radio Veritas

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