Fr. Ben’s homily for Wednesday of the 7th Week of Easter
Theme: CHALLENGE TO THE ELDERS OF THE CHURCH!
By: Fr. Benedict Agbo
Homily for Wednesday May 19 2021
* Act 20 : 28 – 38, Jn 17 : 11 – 19.
The word ‘elder’ (presbyteroi in Greek) was used originally to designate Church leaders even before the strict emergence of the clerical order (ministerial priesthood) whose major function became liturgical presidency and ecclesiastical administration. Its emergence is quite a long story if we turn the pages of Church history. But for the purposes of this homily, permit me just to concentrate on the challenges Paul poses to the elders of the Church at Ephesus :
1. To feed the Church of the Lord which he obtained with his blood; Their main job (as has been reconfirmed by the Vatican II) is to preach and expound the Word of God very clearly to the people of God whenever and wherever they gather together. Paul said : ‘I commend you to God and to the Word of his grace which is able to build you up and give you your inheritance among the Saints’. This job needs to be done more comprehensively than what we see today.
2. To avoid exploitation ; Paul vouched : ‘I coveted no one’s silver or gold…These hands ministered to my needs’. He was a skilled craftsman – a professional tent maker. He says ‘By so toiling one must help the weak’. Majority of our Parishioners are poor and the diocesan, deanary and parish councillors must always be conscious of that as they plan their budgets especially the aspects that have to do with priests’ welfare. Paul reminds us today that ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’. Unfortunately many preachers of the gospel in Nigeria are more of receivers than givers. Many have turned into complete business men of which the quality of their message is often geared towards receiving than giving; they preach more about tithes and offerings and tie people’s blessings and salvation to it. My advice is that those who are privileged to work while they minister should try as much as possible to be non -stipendiary (as Anglicans call it).
3. Christ’s priestly prayer as we read from last Sunday’s gospel is ‘that you should keep them from the evil one and sanctify them in the truth’. We must preach and pray against heresies, religious syncretism (so many of our Christians are going to very fettish prayer houses), liberalism and some kind of post structuralism. Our Pious Societies are gradually dying away. We are getting too liberal with immorality, immoral dressing, idol worship, abortion, etc. Many are getting tired of institutionalized religion and Pentecostalism is teaching them to deride priests and Church authorities. Elders, both ordained and unordained must feed and care for the flock of Christ. This is the main challenge of today’s message. As we go into Zonal, Parish and Diocesan election into offices by this time next year, let us nominate and elect people who can rise to these challenges.
May God bless you today!
FR BEN AGBO