Homily for the 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: We follow God with faith and receive blessing.
By: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
Homily for Sunday August 11 2019
READINGS: Wisdom 18: 6-9, Ps. 33, Hebrews 11: 1-2, 8-19, Luke 12: 32-48
Faith according to the second reading today from the book of Hebrews is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For faith to exist, there must be some hope in something and the thing has not yet been seen and even the possibility of seeing it or having it is not very sure yet because of some reasons, the person convinces himself that the thing shall be done or seen and that in fact the person or being who is at the centre of the conviction is believed to be able to do it or make it possible. Before faith comes, belief must be seen and before one can believe, he must have been taught or made to know of the power inherent in the one who can make it happen. So, knowledge is primary before faith can come and in order to have knowledge, one has to be taught. No one can have faith in what he does not know or in what he has not been taught. It is then necessary that we concentrate in acquiring knowledge that would be helpful and as St Paul would say: The only knowledge he could boast of is the knowledge of Christ crucified and the power of his resurrection. It is not every kind of knowledge that boosts belief and not every belief that can lead to faith. Faith is a spiritual virtue which has to do with what we know about God, how much we believe the knowledge and trust in it as not elusive and then faith is built on it.
Beloved, all those who benefited in the ministry of Jesus were those who were convinced of everything about him, accepted the teachings and hope in its efficacious power that it can transform and do what is impossible. Where faith exists, there is no doubt or impossibility in the mind of the believer. He believes that everything is possible in the hands of the one he believes and relies on. He is rest assured that all is well as long as he trusts and relaxes waiting on the time for its fulfilment. No one who had faith lived without getting all that he hoped for since he was convinced of it. This is why Jesus often says to faith beneficiaries that: Your faith has saved you. He would also ask when the faith is not well pronounced: Do you believe? This was how he asked Martha about believing him as the one who can raise the dead. For one to have faith, he must keep human rationality aside at times and allow faith to enlighten it. Most often the one who has faith behaves like a fool and irrational person in the eyes of those who use pure human rationality. The things we hope for and receive in faith are things that are outside the confines of man’s rationality and most often they are laughable. It is like most of the acts of Abraham when weighed on the rational scale, one would rate Abraham as an imbecile or one that is foolish and stupid. It is like his consenting to the sacrifice of Isaac the one son through whom God would fulfil his promise of raising his descendants. Yet he not only consented but went ahead to stretch his hand to kill him in truth. It is on this note that Soren Kierkegaard a French Philosopher described Abraham as the most stupid of all the stupid. Even the acceptance to travel to a place he does not know leaving where he was already comfortable with is seen as foolish. His following God till old age when God could not give him a child to fulfil his promise is seen as arrant nonsense on the part of Abraham. Sarah and Abraham believing still in the birth of a son after menopause are stupid and unwise yet they were convinced of its fulfilment.
Faith makes someone behave like a child so as to become the wisest in God and a mature adult in God when He fulfils his promise. It is faith that leads to miracles which eventually beats human rationality and becomes inexplicable. When God attends to faith demands, human rationality becomes dumb and lacks words to explain it. It is here that we come to believe that faith is wiser than human rationality. In the series of advice that Jesus gave in the gospel of today like giving what you laboured for to others in alms, and being on guard waiting for someone you do not know when he will arrive can only be accepted by a man of faith. If not faith then they look unreasonable. This is what the book of wisdom was referring to when in the first reading it was describing that our forefathers would rejoice in sure knowledge of the oaths in which they trusted. They believed that the righteous in faith would be delivered and the enemies shall be destroyed. This made them believe in what the saints would gain.
By Faith the Lord chooses people as his own; we pray to be among the choice of God. Let us pray that we may become men and women of faith who would be saints here on earth and so be worthy to share in the future glory when it shall be revealed. Let us trust more in faith than in our human rationality. We pray that faith may lead us and help us wade through rational impossibilities to the conviction and hope of those who believe in the Lord. We pray that like Abraham, we may remain steadfast in faith even when it seems to delay or seemingly impossible. May our faith never lose its elasticity but keep pulling us to the end, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf