Homily of the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: Live the Word
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Sunday August 29 2021
Attentiveness to the commandments of God is one of the primary things that distinguish every believer. This becomes very paramount when it pertains to someone who is not just a believer, but who by special calling and vocation has received the responsibility of bringing others to believe in God through his or her words and actions or who is called to assist those who are already believers to a deepening of their own faith. In a special way we pray to God today to rain anew His powerful graces on all leaders in the faith, especially our priests and religious, that they may truly live in concrete terms the content of the mysteries they serve and proclaim; Amen.
Obedience to the commandments of God has always being at the heart of God’s covenants with us right from creation. The enactment of the Ten Commandments (Ex 20) through Moses was a unique moment in this process. The First Reading (Deut 4:1-2, 6-8) was a form of a reminder to the people of Israel on the centrality of obedience in the sustenance of our relationship with God. The commandments of God are the true principles of life and never human traditions and constructs that are devoid of this unique foundation. Obedience to the commandments of God renders us wise. Obedience to the commandments of God binds us together as one holy nation with the same goal and purpose and destination. Obedience to the commandments of God reveals our true identity to others for “when they come to know of all these laws they will exclaim, no other people is as wise and prudent as this great nation. … And indeed, what great nation is there that has laws and customs to match this whole law that I put before you today.” Obedience to the Commandments of God makes us co-heirs with Christ. In fact, at the heart of Jesus’ Mission is to teach us to be obedient to God and to open our minds, eyes and hearts to behold the values and fruits of Obedience to God.
The encounter of Jesus with the Pharisees and the scribes in the Gospel of today (Mk 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23) was that of repudiation and reprimand for their thwarting of the truth in order to serve their own selfish purposes. In the very words of the Gospel “this people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me.” The Pharisees became not just the greatest obstacles for themselves in their journey of faith and in their obedience to the commandments of God, but also heavy stumbling rocks on the people’s spiritual journey to God and in their relationship with Him. Between Moses and the Pharisees (and the scribes), we see two paradigms. The first and the right paradigm that Moses represents invites the people to obedience, not just with words but most importantly in action, as living witnesses to God’s Goodness. On the other hand is the paradigm which the Pharisees and the Scribes represent which at best serves as a Sign-Post that points people to the practice of obedience to God without any corresponding personal effort to observe God’s commandments. Instead this type of attitude obstructs the people’s view of their true selves by a cosmetic way of life. Every Church leader is called to be like Moses not just in reminding and inviting the people to live the virtue of obeying all of God’s commandments but also in practicing in his or her own life these principles of life. The pharisaic style of life which Jesus condemned in the Gospel of today is one that has caused great damage to the body of Christ; an attitude that coats the surface with very beautiful linens whereas the inside is decayed and stinking. A good Christian cannot but pray for the Church in these trying times, with all of the accusations of different forms of abuses from different quotas. It is time to sincerely re-evaluate our faithfulness to Christ, to acknowledge our guilt where we may have erred, to ask of God’s mercy and pardon for the times we may have betrayed the trust reposed on us and wallowed in unfaithfulness and to open our hearts and minds for the cleansing and transformatory effects of the Holy Spirit. It is time not just to pay attention to the loudest noise of persecution but also, in the words of the Second Reading (James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27), to sincerely “accept and submit to the word which has been planted in us and can save our souls” and to show our love for God and His Church.
May God give us the grace to be true to the truth we profess in our words and in our actions; Amen. Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE