Homily for Tuesday of the 2nd Week of Lent Year A
Theme: THE ‘RELIGIOUS’ CULT!
By: Fr. Ben Agbo
Homily for Tuesday March 10 2020
* Is 1 : 10 – 20, Matt 23 : 1 – 12.
The devil is very intelligent. He perfects in the art of adulteration of holy systems of religiousity and often converts them into their parodies. He permeates the best of pious organizations/ associations and subtly and surreptitiously effects a paradigm shift in their pristine focus, and by the time they know it, they have become the very opposite of the values they initially stood for. He enters into the very best of churches and changes their focus gradually from the liberation of the poor and the afflicted, Lk 4 : 18 to the oppression of the same poor people. He transforms their leaders into ‘Lords’ and turns their religious rituals into empty perfunctory incantations. He corrupts the bests among them and turns them into hypocrites – pretenders who deep down are a mockery of the very virtues they stand for. According to Vima Dasan, ‘The Bible teaches that we are opposed by a living, intelligent, deceptive and cunning spirit, who can outlive the oldest Christian, outwork the busiest, outfight the strongest, and outwit the wisest. The usual name by which the scripture calls Satan is ‘liar’ – for he can make human beings dance upon the brinks of hell as though they were on the verge of heaven’.
Jesus chides the Scribes and Pharisees in today’s gospel for their showy practices and extrinsic spirituality – observing all the ritual rules and regulations of the Judaic religion ; prayer, fasting and almsgiving but lacked humility, sincerity and integrity. They preached but did not practice. They loved to be seen by men as holy, to be greeted as ‘Men of God’, to answer ‘Rabbi’ or its equivalent today : ‘Doctor Doctor’, ‘Professor’, ‘Very Rev Fr Professor’…. But Christ insists that the greatest among his Church leaders must be the servant of others…must go to the poorest of parishes, must accept the lowest of conditions. According to David Diebel, ‘Integrity is being what you said you are and doing what you said you will do’. The Scribes and Pharisees were simply not men of integrity. Charles Cotton says : ‘If the devil ever laughs, it must be at hypocrites ; they are the greatest dupes he has ; they serve him better than others, but receives no wages’.
The devil is so real in our midst today, subtly and surreptitiously penetrating all Churches and religious organizations. We all need to shine our eyes! You may be the ‘Scribe’ or the ‘Pharisee’ of today! Your Church may be turning into a ‘religious’ cult! It is quite discouraging to observe what the devil is doing in all the Churches. But I know that ‘The gates of the underworld shall never prevail against the real Church of Christ’, Matt 16 : 18. Any Church that has lost sensitivity for the plight of the poor has lost the soul of the Christian religion. Any Church that has hypocrites as its leaders has become a clandestine religious cult group.