Homily for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: BEGIN FROM YOUR OWN COUNTRY!
By: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
Homily for Sunday January 30 2022
*Jer 1:4-19, 1 Cor 12 :31-13:13, Lk 4:21-30.
Our society continues to decay when believers refuse to take the bull by the horns; when believers keep their faith at the theoretical level without action, when leaders fail to take the lead in exemplary life of detachment and when everybody is infested with the mentality of IF WE CAN’T BEAT THEM WE JOIN THEM.
Looking at today’s readings, I have pitch forked 3 major problems that have prevented us from helping to save our ‘Country’ – our nation Nigeria, our Parish or Church of fellowship, our School, Market or place of work, etc:
1. The problem of inaction
2. The problem of inactive prophetism 3. The problem of inactive love.
B. THE PROBLEM OF INACTION
This is a situation that sets in when we perceive problems in our society and refuse to think of what to do in order to solve it from our own angle. Most times, we perceive overwhelming problems and rather than becoming part of the solution, we choose to become part of the problem. For example, we meet a traffic jam on the road that requires patience perhaps for a lorry to discharge some goods in a narrow road. Instead of remaining on the queue or going to help control other vehicles, we often prefer to join those trying to meander through a leeway. This is the worst scenario.
The next one is to sit back and do nothing. Edmund Burke says that ‘The only reason for the triumph of evil is for good people to sit back, do nothing and say nothing’. Some prefer to sit back and just be complaining. Some prefer to just go on strike or do demonstration. For example, in a University hostel, the cleaners are not doing their job and the whole toilet is in a mess. What do you do? James Keller says ‘It is better to light a candle than to keep cursing the darkness’. Faith without good works is dead, Js 2 : 17.
C. THE PROBLEM OF INACTIVE PROPHETISM
Only the mission of true prophetism can restore the true paradigm of Christianity. The worldly spirit manifests in nationalism (loving only one’s country), tribalism (loving only one’s tribe), fascism (not tolerating the opposition party), racism (not favouring people from a particular race), nepotism (favouring only one’s relatives), elitism (favouring only the learned class), sectionalism (favouring only a particular group), etc. A prophet is not one who tells what will happen in future (that’s the job of a fortune teller) but the one who tells the truth that was true, is true and will remain true. Unless our prophets begin to speak up and condemn evil fearlessly from all corners of this country and this condemnation is backed up by exemplary life of righteousness, the society will only be heading for ruins.
One bad example is the degree of examination malpractice going on in our Secondary Schools today. Parents no longer pay just for WAEC Registration and NECO but for ‘illegal runs’ – money for sorting the Supervisors, Examiners and Teachers who will provide answers for the students. They must also buy Android Phones to enable these students receive the answers electronically. This evil development must be condemned and fought by the Church with every energy.
D. THE PROBLEM OF INACTIVE LOVE
Today’s 2nd reading says that other gifts of the Spirit, without the spirit of love is useless. The spirit of love is the true Spirit of Christ. Even hierarchical gifts of apostles, teachers and prophets without love is useless.
*When bishops and priests lack love, their ministry becomes like a rolling stone gathering no moss. Charismatic gifts like faith for miraculous works, healing, prophesy, tongues, etc, without love are useless. Even philanthropy and ascetism without love are useless.
*What love is not;
(i) Erotic love – Seeks for sexual pleasure.
(ii) Political love – Wants to influence /have a return round or reward.
(iii) Selfish love – Insists on its own interests.
(iv) Eratic love – Easily irritated and loses temper on a loved one.
(v) Psychophantic love – Covers the truth and does not correct the loved one.
*What love is;
(i) Agape love – Patient, kind and sacrificial.
(ii) Conjugal love – Leads to unity and indissolubility. This is the kind that exists only in marriage.
We often have the greatest record of disunity where there are the greatest charisms (gifts). Only agape love can unite all other gifts together in Christ. Only agape love is active love.
E. CASE STUDY OF JEREMIAH & JESUS
Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry, as we can decipher from today’s 1st reading, was announced from the womb: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you’. The challenges he faced were that of ministering to his own country men. People were enraged with his words and threw him into a pit, Jer 26. Today’s 1st reading encourages him: ‘Do not be dismayed at their presence…for I will make you a fortified city…to confront the evil in this land’.
In Jesus’ own case, people received his mission statement, Lk 4 : 16 – 20, with both approval and bitterness;
(i) The bitter truth that he was the Son of God was unacceptable to the Scribes and Pharisees.
(ii) The bitter truth that other Gentile communities were to receive salvation was also not acceptable to the Jews. The love of God was to be objectivized.
*Their concept of love, hitherto, was too parochial, tribalistic and sectionalistic. When Jesus unleashed his ‘letter bomb’ of radical prophetism, they rejected him just because they knew that his father was a poor carpenter (I call it the “Carpenter’s son syndrome”) and he told them point black that ‘a prophet is hardly accepted in his own country’. Because of this rejection, Capernaum, not Nazareth, became the 1st Parish center of evangelization in the history of Christianity.
Begin from your country to act, to prophesy and to love. Don’t mind the neglect that you are going to receive. This year is election year in Nigeria at the level of Primaries. Don’t say ‘What does my own single vote add?’ If you are part of those on strike or sitting at home, rise up to go and cast your vote to retain or remove a government you like or don’t like. We can’t afford to be part of Nigeria’s problem but part of its solution.
You can also think of how to witness in your small parish, institution or workplace against spiritual indolence, against bribery and corruption, against immorality, against cultism, against examination malpractice… and all that! Join in the group that shares the Word of God especially on Sunday evenings. Join in the group that participates in barzars and project Sundays. Join in the group that embarks on small small works of charity. Please help and change your own country and don’t be part of its problems. Happy Sunday beloved friends!