Homily for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Theme: IF YOU THINK YOU ARE STANDING STRONG, BE CAREFUL LEST YOU FALL!!!
By: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
Homily for Sunday February 27 2022
(SIRACH 27:4-7, 1CORINTHIANS 15:54-58, LUKE 6:39-45
There is this story about Mahatma Gandhi and a woman who walked with her son many miles to seek his counsel. She was very worried about her son’s health because he was eating too much sugar. She came to Gandhi and said, “Please, Sir, can you tell my son to stop eating sugar.” Gandhi looked at her and thought for a while and finally said, “Ok, but not today. Bring him back in two weeks’ time.” She was disappointed and took her son home. Two weeks later she made that long journey again and went to Gandhi with her son. Gandhi simply said to the boy, “You must stop eating sugar. It’s not good for your health, my boy!” The woman was confused and asked him, “Gandhi, please tell me: why did you want me to wait two weeks to bring back my son, just to say this one sentence.” Gandhi said, “Because before I could tell your son to stop eating sugar, I had to stop eating sugar first.” It is said, the boy had such respect for Gandhi that he stopped eating sugar and lived a healthy life.
In one of his daily sermons (on 19 May 2017), Pope Francis said, some people “use rigidness to cover weaknesses, sins, personality flaws, and they use rigidness to rank themselves above others.” The Pope suggested that people who are too rigid about their faith tend to live double lives. The truth is that all of us have our logs in our eyes. We need to work at a deeper level, at our heart. We cannot appear good just by following the law; but we need to root out what is not good deep within us. We need to deal with the inner conflict within us.
The gospel today reminds us that while physical appearance could be deceptive, what really determines who we are is what comes from within us. This includes the quality of our words, the wisdom, and the goodness that we manifest. The wisdom, good counsel and sincerity that comes from the word of a Christian is what sets him apart, what makes him. Not only our words, but our actions as Christian must edify, improve, and encourage or make a positive difference on others. So, we must ask ourselves, does my word or action build up, or destroy the community?
Whether we accept it or not, “How we think about someone determines how we will treat them. Our thoughts lead to our attitudes. Our attitudes motivate our actions”. In the words of today’s first reading: “The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had; so too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind.” In other words, what’s going on inside our minds will find a way to be expressed in one way, shape, or form. If we’re thinking charitably about another, we’ll be much more inclined to speak kindly to that person. But, if we’re harboring resentment or unforgiveness then we’re going to be more likely to treat them rudely, or at least in a sarcastic way.
We should be humble enough to look inwards before criticizing others. Hence, Paul reminds us: “If you think you are standing strong, be careful lest you fall” (1Cor10:12). More profoundly, it is also a challenge: not to flatter ourselves on our achievements until we are good through and through, until the store of goodness in our heart is really overflowing.
Finally, my beloved friends, only when you have purified yourself can you produce the good works that the teacher requires. Christianity is a religion of the heart. We need to work at our heart level. This implies a set of movements in our Christian life: from just saying prayers to praying; from being right to being good; from looking outward to looking inward! Discipleship requires us to produce good deeds or fruits. But to produce them requires the integrity and purity of heart found in the master and teacher. When people see your good deeds, they will know that this is because you have a good heart.
God bless you!
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara