HOMILY FOR THE 20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C.
THEME: THE MESSENGER OF GOD
BY: Rev. Sylvanus Amaobi.
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY AUGUST 14 2022
(1st Reading, Jer. 38:4-6,8-10; 2nd Reading, Heb. 12:1-4; Gospel, Luke 12:49-53)
Dear brothers and sisters, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).
A Prophet is a harbinger. He is a messenger of God. The Prophet gives God’s messages without adulteration, fear, and favor. He speaks the truth without ‘sugarcoating’ it. This unique role of the Prophet makes his task a difficult, risky, and daunting one. Such was the experience of Jeremiah in the first reading of today (Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10).
Jeremiah was accused of “demoralizing the soldiers who are left in the city, and all the people,… not interested in the welfare of the people”. Because of these accusations, “they took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern of Prince Malchiah, which was in the quarters of the guard.” What was the sin of Jeremiah, one may ask. Was he really guilty as was charged? Jeremiah’s ‘sin’ was that he spoke the mind of God. His ‘guilt’ was that he delivered the message of God and condemned the ills prevalent in the city. His ‘guilt’ was that he did not adulterate nor sugarcoat the message of God; as such, the leaders and princes of his time took offense and persecuted him.
Jeremiah’s story can be our own story too. It is not only Jeremiah but also the saints, the martyrs, and all our spiritual heroes that lived and proclaimed the Gospel message before us. The second reading from the book of Hebrew tells us (Heb. 12:1-4) that we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses. They witnessed for God, suffered persecutions, trials, and tribulations, and persevered to the end. We, as children of God, are also called to the prophetic apostolate and to the mission of delivering the message of God to the people. Our task is not easier by any standard. Let us be encouraged by Jeremiah’s story and the story of the saints and martyrs. Let us persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and ‘perfecter’ of faith, as the author of the book of Hebrews admonishes us.
Jeremiah’s story did not end in his persecution. God sent Ebed-melech to intervene on his behalf before the King. Ebed-melech realized that the princes were at fault, that they were wrong in their accusations and in all they had done to Jeremiah and spoke to the King about it. Jeremiah was rescued and vindicated. Our prayer for all the messengers of God’s word, the prophets, the preachers of the word, and those who witness and preach Christ’s Gospel is that God always sends an ‘Ebed-melech’ to intervene on your behalf, plead your cause and effect your vindication.
In the Gospel (Luke 12:49-53), Jesus says to his disciples, “I have come to set the earth on fire and how I wish it were already blazing.” The statement of Christ sounds like an oxymoron, a contradictory statement on facts. But by saying this, Jesus Christ simply stated a fact that goes with the preaching and proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Some people embrace the message; others do not. Some accept it with joy, while others reject it with passion. That is the reality of the Gospel of Christ. As a commentator on the Gospel observed, “Jesus’ message will always set people against one another because it won’t be possible to remain neutral in the face of one who has been set ablaze with the Gospel.”
Always remember that Jesus loves you!
Rev. Sylvanus Amaobi.