Homily for the 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: Peace: Not by all means, nor at all cost.
By: Rev. Fr. Christian ‘N. Okechukwu
Homily for Sunday August 18 2019
Jer. 38: 4-6, 8-10; Heb. 12:1-4;
Peace is one thing almost everybody desires in life; it is valued across sociocultural and religious groups as reflected in their various teachings, slogans, motto, etc. And Christianity stands tall for its high regard for peace as is evident in the life, teaching and mission of its founder, Jesus Christ. The readings of today revolve about peace.
The theme ‘peace’ as found in the gospel reading is worth giving attention, especially with Jesus saying that he did not come to bring peace but division. That this statement came from Jesus, the Prince of peace is not only astonishing; it calls for serious consideration.
To understand the position of Jesus we need to recall that while he was offering his followers the gift of peace, he made the following remark: ” I leave you peace; my peace I give you; not as the world gives do I give you…” (Jn.14:27). Here Jesus makes it clear that what he gives is different from what the world calls peace. Now for the world, peace is a state of sociocultural, economic and political stability. This state of affairs will naturally be characterised by the absence of war, famine, epidemic and civil disturbance. This conception of peace is so earth-bound and does not take into consideration the spiritual well being of the human person, his purpose and destiny.
Interestingly, these issues that the world did not consider in defining peace are the things Jesus came to address in his ministry on earth. He saw himself in a world with a wrong notion of peace, hence, the disclaimer, “…do not think I have come to bring peace….” This disparity between Jesus and the world in terms of peace will also translate into clashes of interest among families and associates, wherein the believing party will have to suffer most.
In order for us not be afraid of the out come of this clash, the second reading admonishes us to look up to Christ the author and finisher of our faith, and to follow the example of the great cloud of witnesses who have had their own share of suffering. The first reading presents us with an icon from this great cloud of witnesses in the person of Jeremiah. He was cast into a dry well for telling the authorities the truth. But God rescued him; he also vindicated him by making his prophesy come true.
1. Peace is not just the absence of war, famine or similar conditions. Peace is the preeminence of God’s will in any situation.
2. For God’s will to prevail in our situation we should avoid all forms of compromise and stand for what is true and upright. Though this might expose us to persecution and hostility. But one with God always triumphs.
3. We must not seek peace (at all cost) to the detriment of God’s will. Genuine and lasting peace is obtained by doing God’s will, that is, to allow our actions to be guided by love, justice and truth.
Jesus has already bequeathed peace to us, we do not need to compromise or trade our faith to obtain it. To keep enjoying this peace we need to be steadfast in love, firm in justice and courageous in speaking the truth.
PRAYER: May the peace of Christ be with, and remain with us now and forever. Amen.
Rev. Fr. Christian ‘N. Okechukwu