HOMILY FOR THE 20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: DO YOU CHERISH THOSE WHO ARE HONEST WITH YOU OR…?
BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY AUGUST 14 2022
(JEREMIAH 38:4-6,8-10; HEBREWS 12:1-4; LUKE 12:49-53)
Today’s readings are not cheerful. Firstly, we hear how Jeremiah who was not interested in been politically correct but remained faithful to the word of God was rewarded by being thrown into a cistern and left to die. For records Jeremiah was correct, because of the resistance of the Jews, the Babylonians destroyed Jerusalem and that led to the Babylonian Exile. Then Jesus the greatest of all prophets and Godman launches his fierce and extreme expression, “I have come to set the earth on fire”. And the second reading says just persevere in running the race with your focus on Jesus as your model.
There was an old and sickly ancient Chinese king wise and amiable. He was worried about who would succeed him as he had no child. One day, he invites a selected group of young men from various parts in his kingdom to the palace. Gave each of them a peculiar seed, he tells them to return to the palace after one year so that he could evaluate who groomed the best plant from his seed and who would succeed him as the king.
After three months one of the young men, could not see any sign of life from the seed as he kept watering it and exposing the plant container to sunlight. Checking on the other young men, he observed that their seeds were growing into magnificent plants, and some were even developing bright flowers. But he never gave up.
Soon it was the twelfth month, and the day of the king’s assessment dawns. After listening to them, the king turns to everyone and pointing to him; he says, “Behold your new king. I gave all of you boiled seeds to plant, but he is the only one that planted it, the rest of you exchanged theirs with other seeds. For his honesty and integrity, he is the only one that qualifies to rule the kingdom after me”.
Honesty and integrity were the hallmark of Jesus’ ministry. That is why he told us in all sincerity “in the world you will have troubles but be brave, I have conquered the world” (John 16:33). We know that Jesus is the prince of peace, why now take about fire and division. Simple! This fire is the fire of love. Not our love, his Father’s love: God’s love. His self-sacrificing love, not just sharing and caring as we do in our ordinary human days. Jesus’ love is total: totally giving, giving of himself, his whole heart, his whole soul, and all his being. Yes, this is the kind of love that the world needs: God’s love, His presence. Peace is more than the absence of war. The greatest form of peace is my relationship with God.
A scholastic axiom says, “Quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur(Whatever is received is received according to the mode of the recipient.”) If you’re living in a relatively good spiritual state, God’s love will be perceived as kind, gentle, and merciful but if you’re spiritual life is off the rails, God’s love will be perceived as fierce, threatening, and judgmental. You can see this story repeated over and over in the Bible. The great news however is, the sun itself hasn’t changed. God’s love is still shinning as brightly as ever but our perception of that love is distorted, and, in many cases, we did it ourselves by closing the shades.
My brothers and sisters, we must be on fire with love, on fire with zeal to set the world aflame, not to burn it, but to fill the world with God’s dazzling light. And that is why Jesus is full of anguish that the Divine Love we carry should burn like a blazing fire until it covers and warms and fills the face of the earth. The Gospel today invites us to be intentional about where we need to stand like Jeremiah, who took a stand despite the threat to his life. So, I ask again do you cherish those who are honest with you or…?
God bless you!
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara