31ST SUNDAY HOMILY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR A
THEME: Practice what you Teach
Fr Anthony Chukwuebuka Ohaekwusi
Everyone knows that the best way to teach is by example. However, it’s always easier to instruct others than to follow your own instructions. One of the most common terms used by teachers in the classroom during lessons is “for example”, as they try to demonstrate the reality and relevance of their ideas through experiential analogies. In my elementary school days, we were excited to sing along with the teacher during PE; songs such as: “One Two – follow your leader”. Although we were small then, we mumbled the words “One Two – O lida lida,” not knowing the meanings, but one thing was clear, we had to do what the teacher did. Parents give advice to their children, leaders admonish their followers, and teachers instruct their students through spoken and written words. But actions speak louder than words. A man taught his son always to tell the truth. But one day he asked him to lie to his creditor that he was not at home. When the creditor knocked on the door and asked the son about his father, the son replied: “my dad said he wasn’t home”. I suppose the young man followed his father’s instructions.
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The readings this Sunday were aimed at those in positions of leadership, whether in communities, churches, institutions or homes. Jesus did not mince words when he instructed his followers: “You must therefore do what they tell you, and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do, for they do not practise what they preach”. That’s because we cannot recommend to everyone what we don’t practise ourselves, and expect them to trust us. Our words matter, but it is our actions that give them life. When God rebuked His priests, in the first reading, for going astray and causing many to stumble because of their teachings, He emphasized that because their words contradict their deeds, they have become contemptible and vile to anyone who listens to them. It is actions that cause change, not words. When our words reflect our deeds, those who listen to us will accept them as God’s message and it will become a living power among them. Our lives are the gospel that people read every day. As St Francis put it: “Preach the gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words”.
Remain lifted and do have a great Sunday
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