Homily for the 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year
Theme: The Implication of being a Christian
By: Fr. Evaristus Okeke
Homily for Sunday September 8 2019
1st Reading: Wisdom 9:13-18b; Ps.90; 2nd Reading: Philemon 9b-10.12-17; Gospel: Luke 14:25-33
Jesus’ teaching in today’s gospel hits us hard. He says that being his disciple is not free of charge; there is a price to be paid. This price is not in monetary terms so that we begin to consider our financial strength; it rather bears on how much we are ready to sacrifice for the sake of him. Accommodating Jesus will mean discarding many persons and things. A disciple is one who can dare to let go.
Jesus advices that we first consider the cost of discipleship because it is not negotiable. When you enter a shopping mall, you will find price tag attached to various items. You do not negotiate prices, you simply pick up what you can afford and leave out what you can’t. In our world today, a disciple is a Christian – follower of Christ. This means that those who bear the name Christian are those who have considered the cost of discipleship and have chosen to bear it. Is this true about me?
Notice that Jesus was talking to the crowd walking along with him. The crowd today is the many of us who think that we belong to Jesus by virtue of our presence in Church this morning. Jesus says we must do more – we must hate those who ordinarily we ought to love, just because of him. Hate, here, does not connate a feeling of displeasure but “less love”; meaning, we must love our dear ones lesser than we love Christ. Therefore, should it happen that the demand of our loved ones on us is contrary to that of Christ, we will be on the side of Christ. Again, Christ asks that we hate our very selves; meaning that when the demand of Christ runs contrary to our inclinations, we will choose to “hurt” ourselves.
Jesus then gave two parables that hint on planning before executing. By implication, we would have considered the above conditions before deciding to come to Church this morning. In truth, most times, the reverse is the case. We come to church not because we have decided to take up the sacrifices of being a Christian but because we want to tell God that we must not suffer; we want to give God instructions, rather than obey His instructions.
With this attitude, we will not attain success for the first reading tells us that it is God who directs the paths of men and set them right so that men were taught what pleases God. The reasoning of man is that all should be perfect for him. The first reading says that this is worthless. If we want to be happy, we must give room for perseverance. It is perseverance that gives life a meaningful outlook. Life will not become meaningless simply because you are not able to meet your set goals or because people do not act towards you as you would expect. Life will be meaningful because in the words of the psalmist in the responsorial psalm, God has been our refuge from one generation to the next. God alone is enough.
Beloved, not all problems God gives outright solutions. The solution to some problems is perseverance. When people begin to recommend houses of prayers to you, it is as if they are saying that those who go to such places have a trouble-free life. This is a big lie! When you see some church banners inviting you to their programs with the promise that all your problems will be solved, know that they have lied from the very beginning.
In the second reading, just as Paul pleaded with Philemon to take back Onesimus as a beloved brother despite Onesimus’ wrongdoing in the past, so also does God want us to walk along with him. There is no authentic discipleship without reconciliation. If we are not reconciled with God, we cannot be his disciples; if we lack the spirit of perseverance, we will not be able to put-up with the failings of others, and so, we cannot be authentic disciples.
Our goal as Christians is not to ensure that nothing perturbs us but to ensure that we are not loving someone, something or our very selves more than Jesus. The gospel acclamation says: Let your face shine forth on your servant, and teach me your decrees”. If we pray in these words, we will surely achieve our goal as Christians. *God Bless You!*
Fr. Evaristus Okeke