Homily for Friday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time Year A
Theme: Spirituality and Tradition
By: Fr. Evaristus Abu
Homily for Friday September 6 2019
(Read Colossians1:15-20, Psalm 100 & Luke 5:33-39)
“No one tears a piece from a new garment and puts it upon an old garment; if he does, he will tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old” (Luke 5:36).
Much of the Jewish religious practices had become reduced to mere traditions so much so that even when they saw God face to face in the person of Jesus, they could not recognise Him. Like these Jews, many Christians today practice traditions blindly yet by virtue of their lives, it is obvious that they do not know God.
As a mere tradition, fasting had become so devoid of meaning that it was more like a dress people wore just to attract the attention of others. They felt they were praying but in reality, they were far from God, like children playing with a stationary toy car and thinking they are travelling from city to city. In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told them how wrong they were about fasting saying true fasting is that which is done in secret and known to God alone (Read Matthew 6:17-18).
In today’s Gospel passage, Jesus used the question about fasting as a means of revealing His true divinity as God in the midst of men. Since the essence of fasting was to draw closer to God, the disciples of Jesus did not need to fast since Jesus who is God the Son, (the long-awaited bridegroom) is now physically present with them.
According to an Early Church Father, St. Cyril, “Holy men indeed fast, that by the mortification of their body they may quell its passions. Christ needed not fasting for the perfecting of virtue since as God He was free from every yoke of passion. Nor again did His companions need fasting, but being made partakers of His grace without fasting they were strengthened in all holy and godly living. For when Christ fasted for forty days, it was not to mortify His passions, but to manifest to carnal men the rule of abstinence.”
So long as the Jews failed to recognise Jesus as God in human flesh, it seemed to them that Jesus had simply come to break the law; that Jesus was against their age-long traditions. They felt more secure maintaining their traditions than opening their eyes to the true realities foreshadowed by these traditions. Jesus made it very clear that He had not come to destroy the old but at the same time His coming marked a completely new era and like new wine, it needed a completely new wineskin; that is to say, a new light of Faith that had not existed before – being able to see God in human flesh.
As much as there was nothing wrong with their traditions, Christ’s coming in the flesh marked an entirely new dawn in the history of mankind. As St. Paul describes in today’s first reading, Christ is the firstborn of all creation for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth. With the birth of Christ, the Creator had come to be as a creature. In Christ, God stepped into creation thereby reconciling to himself all things whether on earth or in heaven.
One lesson we must learn today is to avoid a blind adherence to traditions without trying to find out their meaning and why these traditions are important. By so doing, we would be truly spiritual rather than merely observers of tradition. For instance, it is one thing to just walk up to the altar to receive Holy Communion (tradition), but it is a different thing altogether to worship God with all your heart during mass believing that Holy Communion is the true body and blood of Jesus Christ (spirituality).
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, open my eyes to recognise you that I may not just be a church goer, but a true Christian. We beg you, Lord, to intervene in the current crisis, save us from xenophobia, teach us to love and not hate, teach us to forgive and not revenge, teach us to build and not destroy, teach us to give and not steal. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Friday of the 22nd Week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Colossians1:15-20, Psalm 100 & Luke 5:33-39)