Homily for the 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: Values for a Happy Life
By: Fr. Luke Ijezie
Homily for Sunday February 13 2022
Resp. Psalm 1:1-4,6
1. The readings of this 6th Sunday of the year help us to pose the question of value orientation. What values guide our actions in life? In other words, what principles determine our pursuits and moral options?The question becomes very relevant in the face of the confused moral orientations in our society today. What are we really searching for? As a matter of fact, everyone of us is searching for happiness, but it is also a reality that many of us are unhappy and hardly succeed in finding the desired happiness. The fact is that happiness does not really lie where we search it. To find real happiness, we must reexamine our basic values. Experts on this theme say that happiness is usually linked to something higher and more lasting. In other words, to find real happiness, one has to aspire to higher values, dream higher and aim higher. This is well captured in the readings of today.
2. The first reading from Jeremiah 17 begins with a shocking woe dictum: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart departs from the Lord” (Jer 17:5). Trusting in man means putting one’s hope on what perishes. The consequence is that one ends up being disappointed. This happens so often. So the mentioned curse is not actually something imposed from outside, rather, it lies in the very nature of the trust. It is an inevitable consequence of the trust. A building cannot remain stable when the foundation not solid. It is dangerous to anchor our life on a support that is naturally unstable. The prophet balances the woe saying with a beatific one: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord” (Jer 17:7). The Hebrew word for “blessed” (ashir) has also the sense of “happy”. Thus, being blessed is also understood as being happy. What makes one happy, then, is the trust and hope in God and not the trust in the mortal human being, however trustworthy the human being may seem. The same idea is repeated in the responsorial psalm from Psalm 1 which makes a contrast between the lot of the just and the lot of the wicked. The just man is one who trusts in the law of the Lord, and that makes him a happy/blessed man, since his life becomes very successful. Both the Psalm and the text of Jeremiah employ the same imagery of the happy/blessed man being like a tree planted along flowing waters, which brings about fruitfulness in every season, while the unhappy man is like a tree planted in a waterless region, which remains stunted in growth.
3. The same idea is repeated in the beatitudes in the Gospel of today from Luke 6:17,20-26. The text makes a contrast between the blessed and accursed, based on their value orientations. The term blessed (makarios) in the New Testament Greek context is also understood as “happy”. Thus, the Gospel text articulates the different ways of living a happy life, and all these are based on putting one’s only hope and trust in God. The poor are those who put their trust in God rather than on material things. They may possess material wealth, but their hearts are fully anchored on God. The other themes in the beatitudes are all related values based on putting one’s trust in God rather than on material, transitory things. There is a contrast between those who remain poor now, who are hungry, who weep, who are persecuted because they trust in God and those who are rich, who are satiated, who rejoice and are always praised based on their attachment to material things. While this last group will become cursed and unhappy, the first group will become blessed and happy.
4. What makes many so unhappy today is that they search for happiness in the wrong places. There is much attachment to material pleasure and material possession. This has increased the level of crime in the society and made life brutish, short and insecure. Real happiness comes from a reorientation of values. It comes from putting our hopes on the higher plain, on the lasting divine realities. Jesus himself says it loud and clear: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and these other things will be added unto you” (Matt 6:33). Yes, misplaced priorities bring disaster. In the search for a happy life and a happy society, God must come first in all moral decisions. All who hope in Him are never disgraced. This song sums it: “O Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in His ways.”
May God grant us real progress, peace and happiness, as we have put all our hope in Him! HappySunday!
Fr. Luke Ijezie