Fr. Ben’s homily for New year day
Theme: A YEAR OF BLESSINGS!
By: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
Homily for Saturday January 1 2022
*Num 6 : 22 – 27, Gal 4 : 4 – 7, Lk 2 : 16 – 21.
Our central prayer point today as articulated by today’s responsorial psalm (66) is: ‘O God, be gracious and bless us!’ I just want to ask you at the end of the old year/ beginning of the new year to be A BLESSING SEEKER this year! Many of us are not. They operate as if everything depends on their efforts or on the human connections they are able to make on earth.
Today, you need to study and understand the oganigram of spiritual blessings vs prosperity especially the role of devotion to parents; biological and spiritual. The entire Old Testament account is predominantly about this. Abraham was a blessing seeker, Jacob was, Joseph was, David was…and that was how we finally got Jesus Christ coming as man from their lineage.
B. PRIESTLY BLESSING
Today’s first reading speaks so eloquently about the importance of priestly blessings; the blessings mearnt for the people of God (represented today by the image of the Church). In Old Testament theology, God blessed his people through the priestly lineage of Aaron and Levi. He tells Moses in today’s 1st reading to tell Aaron and his priestly descendants: ‘This is how you are to bless the sons of Israel…’. In New Testament theology, priesthood took on a new character not hereditary but spiritual – according to the order of Melchizedek; a prototype of the celibate priest with no biological antecedents and up springs in the exemplification of John the Baptist, Jesus, Stephen, John, Paul, etc.
C. DIFFERENT KINDS OF SPIRITUAL BLESSING
The scriptures enable us recognize the following kinds of Spiritual blessings;
1. Parental blessings; God blesses us most regularly through our biological parents, Ex 20 : 12 eg Jacob to Judah and Joseph, Gen 49.
2. Blessings of sonship; Today’s 2nd reading says that at the appointed time God sent his Son born of a woman (Mary) to redeem us and enable us be adopted as sons. St Paul amplified this theme through the 7 spiritual blessings in Christ: Holiness, Adoption as sons, Redemption through his blood, Freedom, Forgiveness of sins, Wisdom and Insight, Eph 1 : 3 – 8.
Today’s 2nd reading makes it clear that if you receive the spirit of sonship, it enables you call God ‘Daddy’ in prayer…and if you are son, then automatically you are an heir (I wish I had time to explain this).
3. Blessings of prosperity; Jesus said: ‘Seek you first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and every other thing shall be added onto you’, Matt 6 : 33. This is the correct version of the gospel of prosperity. The order must be well followed. Any prosperity without the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is fake prosperity.
D. CASE STUDY OF JOSEPH
Let’s just take a case study of Joseph to enlighten us at the beginning of this new year. His ‘Coat of many colours’ was a symbol of the special blessings he received from his dad, Gen 27: 28. He was an extra child of grace; the 11th son of Jacob, but the real son from the real wife. From Joseph’s story we need to glean the following lessons about the oganigram of blessings, dream and vision;
> 1. Recognize your vision/ dream as early as possible in life. When God gives you a destiny (purpose), he also gives you dreams of it – stable and durable.
> 2. Don’t tell your dreams to the wrong people. Joseph made that mistake and survived it but what of you…?, Gen 37: 6 – 7. Visions are often revealed but the sufferings / temptations accompanying their process of fulfilment are usually not clear. You need to be as faithful as Joseph was after his pit experience in Dothan, Gen 37 : 23 – 25.
> 3. Watch out for your dream fighters. They are usually friendly and familiar ones. If you doubt that, ask Abel, Gen 4, or ask Moses, Num 12, or ask David, 1 Sam 17, or even ask Jesus himself, Matt 13 : 55.
> 4. One operative word for Divine Promotion is LEAVE. You may need to leave your present environment, your present habits or even possessions. Abraham did, Gen 12. Jacob did, Gen 28. Ruth did, Ruth 1 : 16 – 17. Joseph had to leave. He was eventually stripped of his lovely garments but not of his blessings.
> 5. Go to school; You must learn from the school of humility like Joseph did, from the school of gratitude like David did, and from the school of Management (that was Potiphar’s house). This is because “any success that is not built on the foundation of humility is short lived and precarious; and lacks stability and durability” – Fr Patrick Edet (From Pit to Palace).
> 6. The Lord be with you; The secret of Joseph’s success was that ‘the Lord was with him’ and ‘he was also with the Lord’. He moved from Dreamer to Slave; from Slave to Attendant; from Attendant to Prisoner; from Prisoner to Interpreter; from Interpreter to Prime Minister. The secret behind all these promotions were his devotion to God, love for people, diligence in doing little things and specialization in something – the art of interpreting dreams.
> 7. Forgive your enemies; Finally, he forgave his brothers and the story was complete. Divine purpose was fulfilled. Not just about him but about his generation. According to Franz Fanon: ‘Every generation out of relative obscurity, has an obligation either to fulfill its own mission or to betray it’. We need to be careful not to betray our mission and destiny through our actions and inactions.
The highest secret of spiritual blessings is found in devotion to God through our Blessed Mother Mary. And that is why the Church presents her before us at every new year. Mary is the mother of blessedness. According to Scott Hann: ‘I now see Mary as the perfect work of Christ and greatest revelation of his glory. She no more steals the Son’s glory than the moon steals the sun’s glory’. Cardinal Henry Newman also has this to say: ‘She is the new Eve, the earned grace, obedient and believing, cause of salvation and made room for our Lord’s reparation’. Both of them are heavy weight theologians and Catholic converts from the Anglican Communion.
Christology (theological study of the mysteries of Christ’s incarnation) is also Mariology (theological study of the mysteries of the Divine elevation of Mary) because ‘When the fulness of time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman (Mary), Gal 4 : 4. Mary helped in the dramatic ending of the Old testament and the beginning of the new when she brought forth Jesus and presented him to the Shepherds. She will also help us end our past mistakes (of the old year) and begin a new life (in this new year). HAPPY NEW YEAR BELOVED FRIENDS!
New Year Homily Part II : NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS
A. WHAT TO EXAMINE
(i) Our Habitual sins, Weaknesses and their effects on our progress; Drinking, Smoking, Immorality, quarreling, impatience/indiscipline at the roads and other occasions, bearing grudges, avarice, lying and cheating, etc.
(ii) Devotional habits; Visit of the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Communion, Morning Mass, Quiet time, Devotion to Mary, Bible study, Sunday Evening Instruction, Pious Societies, etc.
(iii) Relationship with people; Examine the virtues /vices you have that help /destroy your relationships.
(iv) Extent of hardwork; Examine your time management, investments /savings, etc.
(v) Charity, Offerings to the Church and to the poor, etc.
*January is a time of stock taking .
From ‘Janus’ , the Roman god with 2 heads and 2 eyes for looking front and back.
B. WHAT TO DO
When you have identified the areas of weaknesses, then remember what James said: ‘Be doers of the Word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves’, Js 1 : 22.
Our understanding, decisions and actions can affect God’s blessings in our lives in the new year. We must always remember that as we make our beds, so shall we lie on it.
*Story of an architect who built a house carelessly without knowing that he was building his retirement house.
Happy New Year dear friends!