Homily for the 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Theme: RELIGION OF THE WEAK AND FOOLISH.
By: REV FR GERALD MUOKA
Homily for Sunday July 5 2020
*Zech.9:9-10; Ps 145:1-2,8-11, 13-14; Rom.8:9,11-13; Mtt.11:25-30.*
“Everyone cannot be
preaching love. I am not
a man of preacher of
love. I am a fight, I am a
war, I am the Indabosky
The above statement is a gospel of war and arrogance attributed to one of the new generation internet sensations preachers, Indabosky Pahose Master.
Such unconventional gospel of discord has garnered lots of acceptance and accolades from some Christians who have adopted it as the trending style of fighting the enemy, and equally explains why most homes, families, marriages, relationships, communities and other places of mutual coexistence have turned into WWE, UFC, BOXING, IBO, WBO AND IBF HEAVYWEIGHTS RINGS. The languages and tonality become that of heavyweights catchphrases and slogans as:
• I am the viper and my venom of RKO is a dangerous one.(Randy Orton)
• Never give up. If you need some, you come and get some(John Cena).
• I have many souls in my hell and i will need your soul to build my hell by resting u in peace (Undertaker).
• I am the big dog and i will spear or super man punch any man that threatens my yard. Hounds of justice!!! (Roman Reigns).
And a host of other contextual war chants and catchphrases we use:
“Aka onye wetara”, “I si ka akuwasiwa, akuwasiwa”, “I am ready for you”; “enough is enough”, “Elegakwanum face”; which give rise to the incessant war, struggle, quarrels, unending rifts, and hatred among children of God.
Beloved in Christ, in the readings of today’s liturgy, Jesus wishes to disabuse our minds from the vindictive and callous gospel of war and fight.
The first reading describes the concern of the king whose triumphant entry into Jerusalem will console the daughter of Zion with peace. He comes to banish horses, the major arsenal of war in biblical time; riding on a donkey, as a symbol of God’s presence, humility and peace.
Contextually, Alexander the Great, had conquered Judah in 333 BC. At the time of the prophet Zechariah, Judah had been a subject state for a very long time. The prophet began by announcing that the Lord would conquer Judah’s foes and liberate Judah. Then, he described Judah’s new king who would rule them in peace and prosperity. (Zechariah 9:1-8).
For a lucid interpretation and understanding of the first and Gospel readings, proper biblical cum exegetical interpretation are required, exploring the hidden meanings of Jerusalem, horse, donkey and children in the readings of today’s liturgy.
*(1) HE WILL BANISH HORSES FROM JERUSALEM*
The banishment of horse from Jerusalem is an advocacy for calmness and stillness by the prince of peace(Is.9:6) whose dynastic manifesto lies in restoring the dignity on Jerusalem as a (Jeru=Place + Salem = peace), HOME OF PEACE and a place of royalty, “Citadel of Kings” (2 Sam.5:6-9).
*LIFE LESSON 1*
Ps.122:6 says, “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Then the verse 3 of it reads; “Jerusalem, built as a city, in one united whole”, some translations read, “strongly compact”. The fundamental questions go thus:
▪︎Why did the United city, strongly compact, where the tribes gather for worship…(their unity centre) turn into a place of ruins and chaos?
▪︎Why are horses found in Jerusalem, instead of donkeys?
▪︎Why did the citadel of kings loose its royalty and dignity?
Then, we contextually ask ourselves:
▪︎Why have our home lost the initial title as a place of peace and abode of love?
▪︎Where is that initial mutual love the attracted the man and woman that made them remain bent on marrying each other, despite every discouragement from kith and kins?
▪︎Where is that initial togetherness, unity and fraternity of Ps.133:1-3, that existed between siblings before marriages?
They are gone in most homes, perhaps, we have chosen to become the fight and the war. Because we have failed to imitate the MASTER’S meekness, gentility and humility, replacing them with pride, rascality, arrogance and pomposity in our relationships. It has consequently resulted to enmity, anarchy and perennial disputes and court cases among brothers, siblings, couples and communities.
REMEMBER, OURS IS A RELIGION OF THE WEAK… A Hindu was asked to define a Christian and he responded, “a Christian is one who loves both his friends and enemies”. This sounds stupid, foolish and unwise. But that is the nature of our calling as followers of Christ, who asked Peter to unsheathe his sword when the enemy called for war (Mtt.26:51-52), and equally rebuked the son’s of thunder for calling on him to rain down thunder and consume the enemy (Lk.9:54).
*(2) HE WILL BANISH HORSES*
The presence of donkey and horse in the first reading is not accidental. It is metaphorically used to describe the hallmark of the Messiah: Restoration of peace through humility and dispelling all agents and instruments of fight, war and quarrels.
In biblical times, horses symbolize power, glory and luxury and they have always been associated with strength and war. Biblically, horses are mentioned usually as a metaphor for warfare and destruction.
It equally represents human strength and worldly power. That is why the Psalmist says: “It is delusion to rely on a horse for safety, for all its power it cannot save. (Ps.33:17).
Horses are known for pride and impatience and intolerance, to the point of even alighting the master unprepared.
*LIFE LESSON 2*
Since horse represents war, pride, impatience and intolerance, we need to eschew all horse-like attitudes. Horse-like attitudes explain the reason for the rise and escalation of husband-wife brutality and stabbing in Nigeria. It is either the husband’s brutality or the wife’s coping cum defence strategy of using knife and stabbing to death.
The banishment of horse from Jerusalem, is a clarion call for us to banish pride, war, quarrels and destruction from our environment, inorder to achieve and regain what we were known for.
But remember this; “Woe to you, destroying though not yourself destroyed, betraying though not yourself betrayed; when you have finished destroying, you will be destroyed, when you have stopped betraying, you will be betrayed.”
The donkey is the bearer of God’s presence. This is manifested in Bethlehem, where Jesus was born, and the triumphant entry into Jerusalem which was prophesied in the first reading. The presence of God brings peace, because Zechariah’s Messianic Prophecy was to initiate peace and prosperity (Zech.9:1-8). This Messianic prophecy is applied to Jesus Christ, whom Isaiah described as the Prince of Peace(Isaiah 9:6). P=PROBLEM + E=EXPIRES + A=AS + C=CHRIST + E=ENTERS. Donkeys equally leave room for cooperation and coexistence, that is why yoked donkeys can work together in the farm, and equally, carry loads together.
Donkeys cannot achieve this feat without humility, patience and endurance.
*LIFE LESSON 3*
The ride on a donkey, represents the Verde mecum for the realization of peace in our home, community, marriages, relationships and environment, realized through: HUMILITY, ENDURANCE AND PATIENCE, TOLERANCE, MUTUAL RESPECT AND COEXISTENCE.
Just as the donkey is a burden bearer, we too, can become donkey-like, by bearing the burden of one another.
Through these virtues, we can return to the natural state of peace and love; where no one fears being killed; where brothers eat from the same pot; and where siblings dwell, “fratres in unum” in unity (Ps.133:1-2).
However, in the Gospel reading, Jesus compels us to admire and adopt the spirituality and lifestyle of the weak and foolish, little children; by unloading our worries and burden, inorder to take his yoke of relief, because, only him can fight for us when we cannot fend for ourselves, speak for us when we cannot speak for ourselves and walk into regions where we cannot advance to avenge our cause, through the power of his blood(Heb.12:24): “I bless you, Father, Lord of heaven and of earth, for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children; come to me all who are overburdened and find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light”.
*(4) REVEALED TO LITTLE CHILDREN*
I bless you father, for hiding all these things from the learned and clever and revealing it to little children…(Mtt.11:25), were the ipsisima verba(exact words), Jesus used to qualify his followers. By referring to the followers as children, He only advocates they become childlike not childish.
However, He had on many occasions encouraged his followers to be childlike: “Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Mtt.18:3).
This is because:
•Children are naturally meek and humble.
•Children are weak, vulnerable and defenceless.
•Children lack strong mental cartesis that presents them as foolish and unwise set of people (childishness) in the eyes of those who do not understand them.
•Children see the world without labels or prejudices.
•Children have a single minded mindset.
•Children Forgive without resentment or bitterness.
•Above all, a child is chiefly dependent and under the maternal/paternal care for food, guidance, protection and upbringing (Is.49:15). Hence, our protection, tender care and ultimate dependence are very much assured in God who wishes to offer us, His sons and daughters, tender and loving care.
*LIFE LESSON 4*
Invariably, while referring to his disciples in the Gospel as children, Jesus meant to compel them not to fight their wars and fight. God remains the fight and war for his children. They appear unwise, foolish and weak in the eyes of men but in their weak nature are the strongest who are ready to let go for peace to reign, relying on God to avenge for them(Ps.94:1-2). So, make sure you preach love and allow God to be the war and fight for you.
Beloved in Christ, the second reading enjoins us to become more interested not in the unspiritual but on the spiritual. Pride is unspiritual, humility is spiritual. War and fight are unspiritual, peace and love are spiritual. Meekness is spiritual, arrogance is unspiritual. Being horse-like is unspiritual, whereas, being donkey-like is spiritual. It sounds foolish and stupid in the eyes of men to strive for peace, but the scripture consoles us, “here we are fools for Christ.” (1Cor.4:10).
Note: It has been revealed to little children that the worldly principles are sharply different from the heavenly principles. The earthly heroes are considered as the weak in the celestial realms. The wise, equally in the eyes of the world are considered foolish in the eyes of the heavens, and vice versa. Such principle is unfit to be comprehended by the learned and brave.
~R-Truth defeated Akira Tozawa to emerge the current WWE champion.
~Tyson Fury beat hell out of Deontay Wilder to emerge the current Boxing Heavyweight champion.
~Stipe Moicic defeated Daniel Cormier to steal the UFC from him.
~Anthony Joshua over run Andy Ruiz Jr. to reclaim his WBA(super), IBF, WBO, IBO belts.
They are all men of fight and war, whose heroism emerged from conquering others. The heroism of the children of God is not measured on conquering others but on conquering the self against pride, arrogance, hatred, revenge and war. However, they are often mocked as weak and foolish.
Finally, a story was told of a certain mother of two, on coming back from the market, was accorded some warmth and royal welcome by a group of children who were playing with her children in front of her house, with the chant: “mummy alota oyoyoo” (mummy is back). She went into the room and signalled her own children to come inside, and immediately, handed over 2 packets of biscuit, each to her children and instructed them to sit inside and finish it before going out to continue playing with other children. She left to attend to other chores, but on coming back, couldn’t find her children. She rushed out to check on them, but to her greatest chagrin, she saw the children, happily and innocently sharing those biscuits with other children. Oh, what a childlike attitude of love, oneness, equality and innocence to emulate. It was indeed an unforgettable lesson for their mother.
Beloved in Christ, let us imitate the humility and meekness of the master, who addressed us as little children today, and equally enjoined us to adopt the innocent, foolish and weak traits in little Children; and by so doing, promote peace and love in the world.
MAY GOD GRANT US THE LOWLY HEARTS OF HUMILITY AND MEEKNESS, JUST AS LITTLE CHILDREN, SO AS TO SUSTAIN PEACE AND LOVE IN OUR ENVIRONMENT, AMEN.
GOD BLESS YOU
REV FR GERALD MOUKA