HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: RADICAL DISCIPLESHIP
BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
HOMILY FOR SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 4 2022
Psalm 89:3-6, 12-14, 17
Philemon 1:9-10, 12-17
One of the most faithful members of a Church was also the most unlikely for any role in the Church. The man was deaf and mute. He had never heard a single note of music nor a single syllable from the Pastor’s lips. He had never responded audibly to a worship service or to a pat on the shoulder from a fellow member. Yet this faithful fellow had learned to communicate by scribbling his responses on a notepad which he faithfully carried.
One day someone questioned the reason for his constant attendance at each and every Church gathering. The person inquired, “Why do you attend if you can’t sing, hear the music, hear the sermons, nor respond if spoken to except to scribble?” The disabled man responded on his notepad, “I just want everyone to know whose side I’m on!”
On this 23rd Sunday, the liturgy invites us to reflect on the theme of “Radical discipleship.” The gospel passage makes us to understand that Jesus Christ is not interested in cheap invitations to discipleship. We must be able to show clearly on whose side we are. So He calls us today to count the cost and weigh the consequences of discipleship before venturing into it.
True enough it entails: family and friends being put after Christ and centred around him; home with its comforts and extravagances being put after Christ; work (jobs), being centred around Christ and used to earn enough so as to help those who do not have (Eph.4:28); using our investments and money for God’s cause etc. Beloved in Christ whatever a person has, time and possessions, indeed, he must surrender all to Christ; meaning he must be willing to use it in the Lord’s mission, the mission of helping a world lost and reeling under the weight of enormous needs.
This is exactly what St. Paul expresses in his letter to Philemon. Onesimus was a runaway slave of Philemon. His encounter with Paul was the turning point in his life. He became converted to the Lord and Paul found in him a very useful hand while in prison. But in the passage read today, Paul was willing to release Onesimus and have him return to his mater, Philemon, whom Paul admonished to accept back Onesimus. Paul could have kept Onesimus back to himself, but for the Gospel of Christ, he allowed him return to his master, no longer as a slave, but as a fellow in Christ, who has received the message of Christ as well and would be equally useful in spreading the Gospel message, starting with Philemon’s household, by first reconciling with his master.
And so what Jesus is saying is, “If you are on my side, let nothing stand in your way of following me as we walk together for a great cause to bring God’s love and forgiveness to the whole world. As you follow me, you must commit yourself to it. You must commit your heart, you must commit your soul.”
So Jesus is saying, “I give you my life. You give me yours. “I give without counting the cost. You give me yours without counting the cost. “I give you my life to teach you how to love as I love. You give me your life to receive my love and bring it to other people. “I begin a mission. You continue it. “But, as you continue on it, I will never be far from you. I will be with you all days, even to the consummation of the world.”
By ourselves, we cannot understand God and His ways. We have enough trouble trying to figure out the world around us! But if we have the gift of God’s spirit of wisdom, we can learn to walk in God’s ways. We can grow in our knowledge of God’s intentions for us.
Actually, the renunciations we make are only apparent losses. All that we give up comes back to us, purified and multiplied or intensified, as he promised. But this is possible only if we have the courage to make the heroic step into the dark tunnel of renunciation and trust in Jesus. And if any of the things we have given up does not come back to us, we discover that it was not worth keeping anyway, and we do not miss it at all. It may have served its purpose at a certain time, like the cocoon of a butterfly that helps it to grow to maturity as long as the body is tender and unprotected. If the butterfly were to look back it would realize that the cocoon is no longer needed. In fact for it to go back to the cocoon would be a form of imprisonment.
In following Christ this week and always, may we enjoy true freedom.
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*