HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: The “crossless” Christianity
BY: Fr. Justus Chigozie Oruma
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 4 2022
(a) What is the Christian life without the Cross? The early followers of Christ were first in Antioch called Christians because their lives were Christ-like. They led a life identifiable with the Christ who died on the Cross. The Cross becomes the identity of the Christian Church and of anyone following Christ behind. As Jesus said in the Gospel, “no one who does not carry his cross and come after me can be my disciple.” (Lk.14:27). To carry the cross daily following Christ behind means the readiness to forsake and forgo “whatever” that could come between one and Christ. Our relationship and attachment to things and even to the people that should be naturally close to us, as Jesus mentioned, “father, mother, children, friends etc” should be grounded and founded on Christ, or else one should forgo them if they separate us from Christ. In Romans 8, St. Paul asked; “what can separate us from Christ”? Nothing, neither height nor depth. This readiness to offer and give up whatever desire that could separate one from Christ is our own sacrifice of the Cross.
(b) This readiness to offer oneself for Christ was characteristic of the early followers of Christ. St. Peter said, “Lord we have forsaken everything and followed you…” (Matt.19:27). St Paul said in Philippians; “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Phil.3:8). There is in general no religion without offer and sacrifice. The one whom we follow, Jesus Christ has his own sacrifice and offered Himself on the Cross. Everyone following Him logically must be carrying his own cross too. This some would not be willing to understand, as St Paul said, in 1 Corinthians; “we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”
(c) And against the experience of the people which made them call the Apostles and the early followers of Christ Christians, today, we experience many who would like to be registered in the Church as Christians but without the willingness to offer, deny or forgo anything contrary to the Christian calling. We experience today a people that would prefer a Church were everything could be allowed as is suits one’s desires, even sinful and shameful things. If you cannot forgo anything for the sake of Christ, you are not His own. If you suffer nothing because you are a Christian, you are yet to become one. If you have not lost anything because of Christ, you are all by yourself. Have you ever been denied anything because of Christ? Ask yourself today, what ordinarily would I like to be doing but have forgone or struggling to forsake for the sake of Christ? That is your cross. Carry it daily, never give up even if you have fallen several times as it happened to Jesus under the cross, for “from that Cross, you will be saved”