*HOMILY FOR THE 19TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME OF THE YEAR A.*
THEME: *ALONE WITH NONE BUT THEE MY GOD.*
*(OGE M NA CHUKWU M)*
BY: REV FR GERALD MUOKA
Homily for Sunday August 9 2020
R1 – 1Kgs 19:9,11-13
Resp. Ps. – Ps. 85:9-14
R2 – Rom. 9:1-5
Gosp. Matt. 14:22-33
Pope Saint John XXIII is well known as the Pope who set the Catholic Church in a new and modern direction by convening the Second Vatican Council, which has had a tremendous impact on how the Church sees herself and her relationship with the world in the Modern era.
However, the progressive strides and landmarks of his pontificate was accomplished because he adopted a positive response to difficult and hard moments with a routine *COVENANT* time of quietude and solitude in a whisper with none but his God; known with the following prayer: “I have done my best I could in your service this day, Oh Lord. I’m going to bed. It’s your church. Take care of it”, each day before going to bed.
Beloved in Christ, the coping strategies of John XXIII, viz: a quiet and lonely time of whispers with God, serve as the perfect example on how to cope with frustrations and desperation; which becomes the advocacy of the readings of today’s liturgy.
In the first reading, Elijah went to Horeb at a period of desperation and fear; in order to experience God in a state of quietude and solitude (alone with none but thee my God). And like John XXIII, to tell God; “I, Elijah, have done my best I could in your service, but Jezebel and Ahab wouldn’t allow me rest.” (ha ekweghi ka m nuru mmiri togbo iko). Infact, they want to kill me. Israel is your own, take care of her and speak directly to her.
Let me come and be going… mbok..
For us to understand Elijah’s frustrating and desperate adventure, we need to ascertain: where he was coming from; the conditions surrounding such moves and where he was journeying to.
*HISTORICAL ANTECEDENTS OF ELIJAH’S HOREB EXPERIENCE.*
Prior to the first reading of today’s liturgy was the Contest on Mount Carmel (1Kgs. 18), where Elijah proved to the entire community of Israel that his God is Omnipotent. This contest resulted to the slaying of 400 prophets of Baal and 450 prophets of Asherah *. (Jezebel’s native doctors-umudibia na agworo ya ogwu).*
The beginning verses of 1Kgs 19, precisely, v. 2, features Jezebel’s threats to take away the life of Elijah. Infact, she swore with her life:
” ‘May the gods
bring unnameable ills on me
and worse ills too, if by this time
tomorrow I have not made your
life like one of theirs!”
(1 Kings 19:2)
So, the whole journey and happenstance at Horeb as we see in the first reading, were orchestrated and motivated by fear of a “woman” who vowed that over her dead body would Elijah stay alive and continue with his ministry.
I DO NOT KNOW IF SOMEONE HAS EVER VOWED “OVER MY DEAD BODY” WILL:
~YOU RISE TO PROMINENCE
~YOU THRIVE IN BUSINESS
~YOU RECEIVE A PARTICULAR FAVOUR
~YOU BECOME SUCCESSFUL
~YOU GET PROMOTED
~ARE YOU AFRAID OF A PARTICULAR SET OF PEOPLE IN YOUR PROFESSION, CAREER OR VOCATION; BECAUSE YOU FEEL THEY OPERATE WITH MAGICAL OR DIABOLICAL POWERS LIKE JEZEBEL?
Elijah serves as an exemplar for us today. His mission was threatened by the fake prophets of baal and Jezebel.
He neither relaxed nor relented. He did not run after humans or fake pastors for help… He rather, went to Horeb for divine encounter and renewal. There, he experienced God in a sound of a gentle breeze.
The Horeb experience changed the whole drama and emboldened Elijah’s courage to go back to duty post.
The death of Jezebel was later prophesied by Elijah (1 Kgs. 21:22), “that the dogs will eat her flesh.” It later came to fulfillment in 2Kgs 9:30-37. Ike ka ike-*ike Horeb*-where victims become victimizers, since the scripture says, “Those who dig a pit for you, must fall into it themselves” (Ps.57:6).
Dear child of God, do ask yourself, “what is my response to threats?” “Where do you run to when the going gets tough?” Have you located your Horeb? What are you still waiting for? Remember to walk in the footsteps of Elijah, the scripture says: ”
He was afraid and fled for his life to Horeb (1 Kings 19:3); a place of quietude; a place of divine encounter; a place of consolation, a place of solution; a place of gentle whisper and relief.
When we look around, we notice that there are many Jezebels – DESTINY DESTROYERS around us. Why would children of God stay and shy away from tapping the ANOINTING of Horeb inorder to remain a champion? There at Horeb, you have a solemn whisper meant for those who draw closer, because, God sometimes whispers, and when he whispers in a gentle breeze, only those closer can hear him.
There is a story told about a young man who had lost his job and didn’t know which way to turn. So he went to see an old preacher. Pacing about the preacher’s study, the young man ranted about his problem. Finally, he clenched his fist and shouted, “I’ve begged God to say something to help me. Tell me, Preacher, why doesn’t God answer?” The old preacher, who sat across the room, spoke something in reply – something so hushed, it was indistinguishable. The young man stepped across the room. “What did you say?” he asked. The preacher repeated himself, but again in a tone as soft as a whisper. So, the young man moved closer until he was leaning on the preacher’s chair. “Sorry,” he said. “I still didn’t hear you.” With their heads bent together, the old preacher spoke once more. “God sometimes whispers,” he said, “so that we will move closer to hear Him.” This time the young man heard, and he understood. We all want God’s voice to thunder through the air with the answer to our problem. But God’s is the still, small voice… the gentle whisper. Perhaps there’s a reason. Nothing draws human focus quite like a whisper.
In the Gospel reading, we equally learn the act of creating some quiet and lonely moments of whispers, with none but thee our God, as Jesus did. The scripture is replete with Jesus spending quiet time in prayers apart from the one he did before walking on water as we see in the Gospel (Matt 14:23, Mark 6:46, John 6:15):
●At his baptism (Luke 3:21)
●Regular time of withdrawal from the crowds (Luke 5:16)
●After healing people in the evening (Mark 1:35)
●Before choosing the Twelve (Luke 6:12)
●Before Peter’s confession (Luke 9:18)
●At the Transfiguration
●Before teaching his disciples the Lord’s Prayer(Luke 11:1)
●Jesus says that he has prayed for Peter’s faith (Luke 22:32)
It is worthy of note that, Jesus’ private prayers were preceded by miracles.
That is why, the readings of today’s liturgy, encourage us to create a private time of quietude with God in prayer; which is a heart-to-heart time, or one-on-one time of whispers with the creator; a regular individual session of Christian spiritual activities, such as prayer, private meditation, contemplation, worship of God or study of the Bible.
Lack of such precious time with God in prayers explains why:
~We spend #150,000 to buy miraculous handkerchief.
~We pay #10,000 consultation fee.
~We buy holy water or healing balm #200,000.
~We pay #500,000 for family liberation…etc.
I call these remedial measures: “PETER’S FIRE BRIGADE APPROACH.”
*FIRE BRIGADE CHRISTIANITY*
Fire-brigade-christianity, is a christianity bereft of inter personal relationships with God. A Christianity devoid of one-on-one whispering time with the Creator. Just as the lines on Fire Brigade Service are rung at emergencies, It is a Christianity that remembers and recognizes Jesus like Peter, as their Personal Lord and Saviour at emergency situations, when the going gets tough and when they are sinnking; but only abandon him when there is abundant flow of milk and honey.
The faithlessness of Peter represents the religious disposition of many Christians:
~Who feel God is an Automated Teller Machine (ATM), whom we visit only when in need and relegate to the background when the going is easy and sweet:
~Christians who do not have COVENANT time of whispers and prayers with God.
~Christians who do not pray year in year out.
~Christians who wake up in the morning without morning devotions to God.
~Christians who seek solutions before occultic shrines and temples.
~Christians who move from church to church and from “one powerful man of God to another powerful woman of God.”
Remember, Jesus retired to converse with God. Elijah, equally retreated to Horeb, in order to converse with God, not to the “deceptive power man or woman of God”, doing the work of God with the principles of the devil or the work of the devil with the principles of God.
A diehard Eucharistic adorer who was never a catholic, related her experience on how a quiet time with Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist turned her into an ardent fan of the Eucharistic Jesus and member of the Catholic Church.
According to her, she married a loving man of her specks. It turned out that as things thrived, she realized that her husband had a room that was out of bound for her in their mansion.
Curiosity made her break into the room at the absence of her husband. The discoveries aboard revealed the husband was an occult grandmaster. The man threatened to waste her, should she open up on what she saw. The awkward scenario ended the marriage with the lady carrying a seven months pregnancy. The man left her with these words, “Over my dead body, shall you deliver the baby… the day you deliver that baby shall be the end of your life.”
The woman left the house and after nine months there was no signs of delivery. She started moving from one place to another, probably, seeking out solutions.
Not until the 13th month of the pregnancy, one of her friends, asked to introduce her to a priest that would help solve the problem.
On approaching and relating her plights, the priest declined and relegated competence in helping out and left her with these words: “I cannot help you” As she tried nurturing countenance of depression and disappointment, the priest continued, “but I know someone that will help you out of this situation.”
“Where? When are we going to meet the person?” She hurriedly responded.
The priest took her to the Eucharistic Adoration chapel and showed Jesus in the Blessed Eucharist. He recommended 9 days novena for her, with the corresponding three hours adoration, prayer, fast and bible reading, each day.
The 6th day of the novena yielded a harvest of labour and delivery signs, while she was in the chapel of perpetual adoration. Gbam gbagam…. after few minutes of arriving at the hospital, she delivered a bouncing baby girl.
Little wonder, after the exposition of Christ’s Saving works in the second reading, Paul turns to the question which tortures him: how is it the Israel, so lone prepared failed to recognize the fulfilment of the prophecies.
Are you still in doubt if Jesus can save you from the raging storm?
MAY THE HOLY SPIRIT ENKINDLE IN US THE FIRE OF CONSTANT AND DAILY DEVOTIONS TO GOD IN A QUIET AND SOLITARY CAPACITY, AND MAY HE CALM ALL RAGING STORMS IN OUR LIVES.
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
FR GERALD MUOKA