Homily for Thursday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: Prayer is The Opposite of Magic
By: Fr. Evaristus Abu
Homily for Thursday January 16 2020
(Read 1 Samuel 4;1-11, Psalm 44 and Mark 1:40-45)
“So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.” (1 Samuel 4:4)
Today’s readings juxtapose two examples of God’s intervention in human life. One in which God allowed the enemy to prevail over his children and the other in which God showed his power and might over nature by bringing healing to a leper.
The Israelite nation was in a battle against the Philistines who were obviously gaining the upper arm. In just one day, the Philistines slew four thousand men. Out of desperation, the Israeli army “ordered” for the Ark of God. Without any prior acts of begging, they commanded God into battleground. They forgot that prayer is not magic.
Mind you, the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas who were directly responsible for the care of the ark did not show any respect at all for God. As we read in 1 Samuel 2:12 onwards: “The sons of Eli were scoundrels; they had no regard for the LORD or for the duties of the priests to the people…. Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the LORD; for they treated the offerings of the LORD with contempt…” Even the women who served at the entrance of the tent (the altar girls) were not spared of their gross immorality (1 Samuel 2:22)
Eli did his best to caution Hopni and Phineas, but they ignored him. They did not listen to the voice of their father, yet when it was time to carry the Ark to battleground, they did not think twice.
Prayer is the opposite of Magic. While prayer requires the will of God to work, magic entirely depends on the magician. Magic is all about performance, it is a show, it is for the glory of the magician. Prayer on the other hand, requires prostrating ourselves before God. It involves bending the knee, bowing and begging God and it is always to the glory of God.
As we see in today’s Gospel passage, a leper approached Jesus beseeching Him and kneeling saying, “If you will, you can make me clean.” The leper displayed faith and humility before Jesus. He prayed for healing, but was careful to add “If you will” knowing that his healing depends entirely on God. The leper did not display a sense of entitlement. He did not shout or command God.
In teaching us to pray, Jesus deliberately added the phrase “your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” to teach us that prayer is not magic. After curing the leper, Jesus told him to “say nothing to people” because Jesus did not want attention on Himself. Even when the leper disobeyed this instruction, Jesus went into hiding. “He could no longer openly enter a town but was out in the country.” Jesus wanted all the glory to go to God and not Himself.
Today, it is rather disheartening to see our ministers act like magicians boasting and doing everything to make themselves popular. Prayer is not magic, learn to give God the glory He deserves. Let it not be that you only remember God when you need something from Him. Worship God in season and out of season, do not make the mistake of Hophni and Phineas.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, teach me that there is something called humility. May I be poor in spirit. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. (Thursday of the 1st Week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: 1 Samuel 4;1-11, Psalm 44 and Mark 1:40-45).