Homily for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
Theme: THE GREATEST COMMANDMENT!
By: Fr. Benedict Agbo
Homily for Sunday October 25 2020
* Ex 22 : 20 – 26, 1 Thess 1 : 5 – 10, Matt 22 : 34 – 40.
One of the problems of modern day Christianity is that the demand for love of God has been reduced merely to prayer and religious activities while the demand for love of neighbour has been reduced to utilitarian friendship.The proper motive of love, 1 Jn 4 : 7 – 12 has been lost even in marriage, Tob 8 : 7 and that is why most marriages no longer last, 1 Cor 13 : 4f. Love has become very mechanical and the children of men are becoming more and more wicked. But the Bible has made it clear that there will be no rest for the wicked, Eccles 8 : 12. Humanitarians love their neighbour because of God while humanists love their neighbour inspite of God. The latter is not salutary.
B. 4 CLASSES OF WICKED MEN Today’s 1st reading warns against the following classes of wicked men;
(i) The brutal oppressors; Those who molest the strangers, widows and orphans. God says : ‘If you are harsh with them, they will surely cry to me and be sure I will hear their cry.. I shall kill you with the sword, your own wives will be widows, your own children orphans’.
(ii) The merciless usurers; Those who take high interests when they give loan to poor people and end up coveting their properties like wicked Shylocks.
(iii) The wicked borrowers; Those who are in the habit of borrowing from people without honoring their pledge. (iv) The ungrateful beneficiaries; Those who fail to appreciate the love of God, example Idol worshippers and haters of their parents. St Paul praises the Thessalonian Church in today’s 1st reading for how they broke up with idolatry when they were converted to God and became servants of the real living God and in today’s gospel Christ summarizes the commandments by saying : ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and your neighbour as yourself, starting from your parents.
C. SUMMARY OF THE RULE OF LAW The commandments of God have 2 semesters. At the 1st semester we are expected to honour God (1st) , honour his name (2nd) and honour his day of worship (3rd). At the 2nd semester we are expected to honour our parents (4th), honour/respect our neighbour’s life and not to kill him/her (5th), honour love and not to steal love that doesn’t belong to us (6th), honour our neighbour’s property and not to take what does not belong to us (7th), honour and respect his /her reputation and not destroy it with gossips or false allegations (8th), honour our neighbour’s wife’s property and not envy it especially when he is dead (9th) honour our neighbour’s property and not covet it (10th).
Love and hate is all about honouring and dishonouring, giving and not giving, staking and stealing. Let me just amplify one of the commandments most rampantly violated (the 6th) as follows : masturbation is sexual pilfering, fornication is sexual recklessness /irresponsibility, harlotry is sexual gambling, adultery is sexual robbery, homosexuality is sexual madness.
The rule of law states that the law is no respecter of persons. And the greatest problem with Nigeria is the disrespect for the rule of law. When Pope John Paul II visited Nigeria over 33 years ago, he told the then Head of State, Gen Sanni Abacha to ‘uphold the rule of law because that is what will protect your children when you are no longer there’. Today, Nigeria is gradually turning into one of the most lawless countries in the world where its rulers violate its rules most beginning from the rule of traffic. This lawlessness and lovelessness is found unfortunately even among the religious and political houses as many priests, pastors and politicians do anything and get away with it. Employers and employees abscond their contract terms with levity and impunity only to get back to the churches on Sundays and make the highest noise.
Just last week, we have seen our soldiers display the highest disrespect for human lives – releasing bullets on peaceful young protesters carrying the Nigerian flag and singing the National Anthem at Lekki in Lagos. It was such a harrowing movie to watch as the street lights and CCTV cameras were put off and lawlessness began to reign. Today, what began as a peaceful protest has degenerated into a lawless carnage.
The greatest commandment of Christ is love. And love is practical concern for the need of others.
*Story of a little boy who was so thrilled by the generosity of an unknown lady who bought him so many lovely things in a shop. He asked : ‘Are you God? Lady : ‘No’. Child : ‘Who are you?’ Lady : ‘I am one of his children’. Child : ‘No wonder, I was sure you are related to him’. There is so much selfishness, lawlessness and lovelessness in our society today that people are wondering where Christians are. Our old politicians have adamantly refused to leave the stage even when they have failed woefully in delivering good leadership. They have done so well as consumerists of the National cake and now the Youths are protesting and still they do not read the handwriting on the wall. Where are the Christians? Where are the prophets of God? Our young people are gradually getting fed up with the institutional religions. They have prayed for Nigeria to get better but the situation seems to be getting worse. Even Christianity as a religion seems to have failed them. Yet the truth remains, as Gilbert Chesterton put it that ‘The problem with Christianity is not that it has failed but that it has not even been tried’. Real love as enuntiated by Christ has not been practiced. But this is the greatest commandment of Christ. We need both religious and political revolution. We don’t need to reform only SARS. We need to reform the quality of Christianity in the Country, the quality of leadership and even the quality of our citizenry. Happy Sunday dear friends!
FR BEN AGBO.