Homily for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: The Word of God
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
The Word of God is a force for Good. Like every other force, it is often confronted by many other opposing forces. Irrespective of these oppositions, the sound of the Word resounds in all parts of the universe, bringing all men and women of goodwill to its side and leading them through the path of righteousness and through that path that leads us to God. May our daily encounter with the Word of God transform us into promoters of its course; Amen.
The readings of today present us vividly with the opposition which the Word of God encounters as it comes in contact with different peoples and with different cultures and backgrounds. In the First Reading (Jer 1:4-5, 17-19), we heard of the call of Jeremiah by God to the prophetic ministry. Right from the outset, God made it clear to him the challenges involved in being a bearer of the Good news and the opposition he must expect as he brings the Word from God to God’s people; “So now brace yourself for action. Stand up and tell them all I command you… They will fight against you but shall not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you it is the Lord who speaks.” This is true always about those who share in the ministry of the Word. As uncountable as there are the great benefits and merits which the power in the Word initiates so also there are many oppositions which this Force for good encounters by countless number of those who ignorantly allow themselves to be manipulated into opposers of God’s will by God’s principal opposer the devil. This was seen at the very beginning of the public ministry of our Lord Jesus in the Gospel Reading (Luke 4:21-30). When Jesus Christ presented to the people the demands of the Gospel, they couldn’t contend with the tension His words created in them between how they would want to live and what God wants of all of us; between the darkness in them and the splendour of the light in the Word. In opposition, “they sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town; and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.”
The experiences of the Prophet Jeremiah and of our Lord Jesus Christ signify the energy in the Word of God; “for the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Heb 4:12). The Word of God is combatant also in the sense that it is a force that contradicts every form of evil that exists in the society. It is a force that calls and drags us from darkness into the wonderful light of God. This accounts for the resistance that the Word of God sometimes encounters. This resistance comes in different forms and for different reasons. Sometimes, it is as a result of the person of the minister or the bearer of the Word of God in which it is rebuffed because of the presumed limitations of the minister. Some other times, it could be as a result of the challenge which it presents to us and our inability to let go our old self in order to embrace the newness it proposes. It could even be because of the manner in which the values in the Word of God are presented to us or even the fruit of our obduracy of heart. The truth remains that none of these reasons intrinsically adds or removes anything from the integrity of the Word of God even when we fail to acknowledge its inherent powers for “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out” (Lk 19:40). The wise man or woman looks beyond all of these obstacles to see and accept the gracious gifts of God sometimes wrapped in the futility and feebleness of the things of this world. These gifts include also the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love that we read in the Second Reading (1 Cor 12:31-13:13). Faith enlightens our minds and leads us, beyond the confines of human reason, to the true knowledge of God. In hope, our minds and hearts are lifted up to look forward to what God has promised and to fix our eyes on what He has in store for us. In love we are wrapped and are admitted into the mystery of God’s magnificence and magnanimity and we are invited to relate with others inspired by our experience of the love, divine and pure. A person of faith is invariably a person of hope. A person filled with faith and who hopes in God not only loves God as the Ultimate Good but also loves his or her neighbour in a way that glorifies God and brings honour to his or her neighbour. These three gifts arm and fortify us to stand firm against all oppositions to the Gospel and they stabilize us always on the part of the Gospel.
May our living of the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love make us always docile to the Gospel of Christ; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE