Homily for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: Word of truth
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Sunday January 30 2022
It has never been easy to be a bearer of God’s Word. The truth that the Word of God proclaims irritates some persons for which bearers of this Word of truth are sometimes seen as enemies that must be eliminated. For some others, they are liberators because the truth it contains sets free. In the midst of this tension and before the court of these enemies of the Truth, the Word of truth must always be planted with faith, in hope and most importantly out of love. Truly, the Truth of the Gospel is most salvific when proclaimed in love, with love and out of love. May the love of God reign in our hearts and inspire us to aim at the Highest Good; Amen.
The ministry of the Prophet Jeremiah was a very difficult one, complicated more by the socio-cultural conditions and the political atmosphere of his time. The tension was very high in the society and there was actually very little interest in the Word of God amongst a reasonable percentage of the people. It was within this context that Jeremiah was called; “before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I have appointed you as prophet to the nations” (Jer 1:4-5, 17-19). The time of the prophet Jeremiah is similar to ours in many ways: a time when some people are less interested in building a stable relationship with God; a period when true worship of God is mistaken for an instrument of exploitation, dehumanization and deceit; a season where people consider themselves as solely in-charge of the process of history without any reference to the Supernatural; a time when recourse to God is seen as an attempt to escape responsibility and creativity; an age that seeks to divorce politics and governance from the divine and from any of God’s intervention; a generation that is afraid of the light of the truth; a people that seeks progress and prosperity without a corresponding desire to work for such progress and prosperity; an era in which people are weighed down by the burden of prejudice and mutual suspicion. These could indicate the kind of environment within which Jeremiah received his vocation and also the type of atmosphere in which we are called to be Christians. To stand for God in such an environment is to be at war and to suffer the heat of the conflict between the forces of darkness and the splendour of the Light; between the deception of lies and the edification of the truth. It is in fact an environment of rejection; rejection of God and of the truth. Jeremiah experienced the stench of this rejection to the fullest; he suffered as a result of it and he was betrayed for standing for the truth. But one thing that was very certain was that God was with him. God already prepared him to face such huddles. God already made him “into a fortified city, a pillar of iron, and a wall of bronze to confront all this land.” This is also the lot of all those who trust in God and who are ambassadors of the truth in faith, hope and charity.
Jesus’ case was not quite different from that of the prophet Jeremiah. He was a victim of rejection and betrayal by those who were closest to him. He was rejected for no just cause. It was very dramatic how the same people before whom Jesus “won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips” are the same people that “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” (Luke 4:21-30). The truth can be very provocative. It is a reality everybody makes reference to and at the same time a reality people fear. Humanly speaking, to be a bearer of the truth is a very dangerous enterprise. Irrespective of these challenges, setbacks and attacks, the world remains in dire need of sincere heralds and bearers of the Gospel of truth. The world needs men and women inspired by the audacity of Jeremiah and moved by the power and spirit of Christ to bear witness to the truth in our generation. It takes focus on and the disposition for the higher gifts to be such witnesses. Focus on and the disposition for the higher gifts make our witness to the truth credible. This is why Saint Paul reminds us today that “there are three things that last: faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love” (I Cor 12:31-13:13). Witnesses to the Gospel of truth are motivated by faith, hope and love. It takes faith to grasp and understand the truth of the message of God. It requires hope to accept it and to make it our guiding principle of actions. It takes love to motivate us to bring others to come and make the same beautiful experience we have made, walking with the Lord. It takes love not to harbour the truth with us but to share it with others despite all odds. This truth sets us free! This truth makes us whole! This truth empowers us! This truth christifies us and makes us flourish! This truth makes us friends of God and Spirit-filled witness! This truth is Jesus Christ the Emmanuel.
Heavenly Father, in all things and everywhere we find ourselves, may we stand for the truth despite all odds. May we witness to the truth in faith, hope and love. May the truth liberate us and lead us into the splendour of Your eternal Light; Amen. Happy Sunday;
Fr Unachukwu Cyril CCE