Catholic Homily Tuesday of the 27th week in Ordinary Time Cycle I
HOMILY Theme: WHEN GOD ‘REPENTS’…
By: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
*Jon 3 : 1 – 10, Lk 10 : 38 – 42.
Jonah had a special vocation – a late vocation, so to speak; a vocation that suffered the vagaries of conflict between God’s will and human freedom. It was a vocation accompanied by a special testimony of God’s miraculous intervention. I am sure that anybody that listened to Jonah’s story after 3 days in the belly of a fish would take him very seriously. Perhaps, that was the secret behind Nineveh’s sudden repentance – such a great city that was hardened in sin and corruption (like Nigeria) all suddenly went down on their knees in prayer and fasting from the President to the last man. And, since they repented, God also had to ‘repent’. The Bible says that : ‘When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God repented of the evil which he had said he would do to them; and he did not do it’. Don’t mind the human language (anthropomorphism). The truth is that God cannot, strictly speaking, be said to repent. Aristotelian hylemorphism teaches us to go beyond that level of metaphysics. St Thomas Aquinas will say that God is ‘actus purus’ – both his act and potency coincide as one. He does not change, yet when we change from our sins he ‘changes’ from his intention to punish us. So, in the final analysis, it is not God who changes but we and our destiny. God’s providence remains sacrosanct.
The basic message of today’s gospel is that the ‘better part’ of Christianity does not lie in speaking to God . A priest said that what many of us say in prayer now has become the exact opposite of what Samuel said: ‘Listen, Lord for your servant is speaking’. The basic message of today’s gospel is that it is not even working for God (as Martha was trying to do in today’s gospel) that matters more but listening to God speaking to us through Jesus Christ. Only Mary understood and chose this better part. In prayer, we do not actually change God but as St Augustine put it we change ourselves to understand God’s will better and prepare ourselves to receive his answer to our prayers. May God bless you today!
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