YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 13TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE COST AND THE GAINS OF TRUE DISCIPLESHIP
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: * 2 Kg 4 : 8 – 16, Rom 6 : 3 – 11, Matt 10 : 37 – 42.
A. THE COST
A true disciple of Christ is one who loses /denies himself /herself everything for the sake of the gospel ; wealth, wife, husband, relations, friends, possessions, time, comfort, etc. Christ says it clearly in today’s gospel that ‘He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me… He who does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me’.
A true man /woman of God is one who has been baptized into his death, according to the 2nd reading of today and who now lives a new life of detachment from things of this world. He or she is dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
B. THE GAINS
The result of this sacrifice is the fulfilment of Christ’s promise that ‘whoever leaves houses, brothers, sisters, father, mother, children or land for the sake of my name will receive a 100 times as much and also inherit eternal life, Matt 19 : 29. This is why many men of God today appear to be rich but the reality is that what they have (their flashy cars, nice houses, etc) are only gifts from the people of God. The truth is that what you have sacrificed in life has an uncanny way of always coming back to you.
C. THE REWARD
We are told in the 1st reading of today that the woman of Shunem was a wealthy woman but she had no son and her husband was already getting old (what we call andropause – a condition when a man loses the power of fertility and sexual potency). But she had a charitable heart for men of God (Like men and women we know today who like to take care of Priests and Seminarians). When she perceived that Elisha was a holy man of God, she provided him with accommodation and feeding until one day Elisha asked his servant what is to be done for her. It was her own turn to be rewarded with the miracle of a child at old age.
The theology of sowing seed (Pentecostal as it may sound) is as old in biblical theology as the time of Abraham. Charity (done especially to men of God) always produces fruits of blessing. Christ harps on that theme in today’s gospel when he said clearly to his disciples that ‘He who receives you receives me… He who receives a Prophet (or a righteous man) because he is a righteous man receives a righteous man’ s reward’.
The unfortunate thing about present day Christianity (especially in many Orthodox Churches) is that many people are not willing to make even the smallest exchange with Jesus Christ. We are not prepared to test God even in that one single area where he told us that we can test him
(i) In the area of tithe offering for abundance in the house of God, Mal 3 : 11.
(ii) In the area of seed sowing for hospitality to the men /women of God, Matt 10 : 42.
Another unfortunate thing is that the so called men /women of God themselves also are no longer ready to give up these material things first of all rather they pursue materialism with such velocity that their Parishioners are forced to run on the defensive. Go and check parishes where men of God are really detached and see how much people pomp money into the Church treasuries. Freewill donation is always the best and most Christian way.
The Bishops and Church Oversears whose minds are set on wealth will keep having problems with their priests, pastors and members of their flock but the ones who are detached and generous would receive more through freewill donations and charity from the rich. Christ’s statement in today’s gospel is eternally true that ‘He who finds his life will lose it and he who loses his life for my sake will find it’, Matt 10 : 39. The life of a priest is like the candle that burns away everyday at the altar in order to give light to others.
Jesus said : ‘Give and it will be given back to you. Good measures, pressed down, shaken together, running over will be put in your lap’, Lk 6 : 38. ‘Human generosity’ according to John Rose ‘will always be rewarded with the divine superabundance’. Hoarding anything selfishly is always counterproductive. If water is hoarded, it breeds mosquitoes. If food is hoarded it develops mucus. If clothes are packed one place, it attracts rats. If money is hoarded, termites or enemies will eat it. The famous preacher Christmas Evans said ‘It is better to burn out than to rust out’. St Francis of Assisi said : ‘It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. It is in giving that we do receive, and it is in dying that we are born to life’. True discipleship has its costs and gains. Happy Sunday dear friends!