BY: Rev Fr Utazi Prince Marie Benignus


Homily for Tuesday October 12 2021

Romans 1: 16-25; Psalm 20: 2-3, 4-5; Luke 11: 37-41

I pray for you: May you be drawn ever deeper into a faith-filled relationship with the Holy Trinity and may that relationship spill out into your relationship with others. AMEN
It is so easy for us, mortals that we be, to try to capture, compress, condense and enscapitulate who God is into our own understanding. This can lead to institutionalizing, establishing, associating and traditionalizing our relationship with God. I am not saying that all religious or ritual practices are intrinsically evil. Anything that leads us to deepening our authentic relationship with God and others is good. However, if the rituals and establishments that we use lead us away from an ever deepening relationship with God and with all of Gods children, then they miss the point for which they exist. I am blessed to be part of the church which has handed down its understanding of God. Nevertheless, I have also been embarrassed when certain individuals or practices have been distorted and caused others to stumble in their journey to be with God.
Therefore, we all need to become more and more in touch with our God who uses various means, especially prayer and scripture, to draw us ever closer to a deeper relationship with the Triune God and with others.​

How easy it is for humans to misunderstand and deceive themselves concerning the Truth of Faith. In the First Reading, St. Paul addresses the failure of people to accept the gift of coming into a relationship with God which was offered to the Jews throughout Hebrew Scriptures and presented to the Gentiles through nature. He boasts about his mission as minister of the Gospel. He is not ashamed of proclaiming the Good News as found in Jesus who has died and is risen. He justifies his teaching because it is based on the gift of Faith he has received from God. He continues to describe how both the Jews and the Gentiles have misinterpreted the Truth of Faith by trying to form Faith into what they want it to be, rather than the gift from God which Faith truly is. The Jews, the first to whom the gift of Faith has been extended, have transformed Faith into a set of rules and regulations which lead the believer away from God with its emphasis on rules and laws, rather than developing a relationship with God. The Gentiles have the opportunity to understand God as Creator as they look to the wonders God has created. Their misunderstandings flow from their trying to worship creation and creatures instead of the Creator. Because of mortals aberrations of the Truth of Faith, they have been handed over to impurity and idolatry.

The Responsorial Psalm proclaims the revelation of God through the beauty of creation. It is a declaration that even nature proclaims the majesty of God the Creator. Creation cannot be silenced as it gives honor to the One who brought it into existence. Humans are the ones who have the free will to choose not to honor the Creator and they are the ones who have done just that, by twisting the understanding of the God who creates out of love for humans.

In the Gospel, as He dines with a Pharisee, Jesus chides the Pharisees for their over-stressing of laws and missing the point of being in relationship with the Creator. While Jesus is questioned about His failure to observe the Jewish ritual washings, He challenges His host and the other Pharisees for their missing the point of ablutions (washings, Cleansings). The rituals of washing are to signify that the person is pure in intention and mind. Jesus criticizes the emphasis which some of the Jewish leaders put on legalistic practice while missing the relationship which the practices are meant to deepen the relationship.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, todays readings let me to know that the heathens from the Greco-Roman times and the Jews of Jesus time were not the only ones who have not accept the gift of Faith for what it is. There are many people today, including myself, who, at times, have tried to shape religion into a substitute for Faith. Faith is of divine origin. It is a gift which God gives to us. It is something which must be accepted and lived. But, because of our desire to make sense of this divine gift, we sometimes shape our practices to fit into what we want Faith to be. We build all sorts of structures, rituals, and regulations around the gift and say that all of those human additions are also what God intends. However, the simplicity and Truth of Faith is that God loves us and wants us to share that divine love with others. It means that the Good News of Our Lord Jesus Christ must be proclaimed in word and action. This is the Truth Paul preached and was proud to declare and proclaim. This is the Faith which has been given to us to share with others. Yes, the Truth of Faith must be accepted and internalized and made visible by the way we live each day, but it does not need to be overly systematized and regulated. I believe that some framework can be helpful to the spread of Faith, but if the structure becomes more intent on preserving itself than in spreading the Faith, it is no better than the impure and idolatrous practiced mentioned in todays readings. Anything which enhances the relationship with God (and therefore with others), which Faith is meant to be, is to be appreciated. While anything which becomes a skandalon (scandal or stumbling block) to the true Faith relationship with God and with others must be abolished.

Dearly beloved, we must be discerning in our use of rituals and structures. We must look to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. We must be willing to strive to be authentic to true gift of Faith which God has given us in and through the life and ministry of Jesus. Then we will be able to join with all creation in declaring the glory of God.
*MEDITATION* Do I ever confuse Faith with religion? Do I seek to practice a religion rather than live a Faith relationship with God and with others? How does my Faith make itself evident in the way I live my life and interact with others? What can I do to enhance the Faith relationship of others with the God who is seeking that relationship with them?

*PRAYER* Our Father and God, we plead thatthrough the power and inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, help us to focus on the gift of Faith Your true self-revelation drawing us ever closer to You. Continue to help us keep our eyes focused on Jesus, our Master and Lord, as we reflect on the gift of Faith and salvation which He has shared with us and which we are to share with others. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

© Rev Fr Utazi Prince Marie Benignus

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