HOMILY THEME: What do you take Jesus for: and with what faith do you approach him?

BY: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf


HOMILY: READINGS: Hosea 2: 14-16, 19-20, Ps. 145, Matthew 9: 18-26

God’s love for his creatures and especially human beings is so much indescribable that our experience of it marvels us beyond our understanding; so incomprehensible and unfathomable.

This love is more than a man who has found a new lover so intimate and with a resolve to marry her; he goes to any extent to lure her. It is only in desperation when in need of someone that you can use allurement to woo the person. This kind of love of God on his people is what prophet Hosea describes in the first reading. In the language of love as in some Indian cultural way of showing love to a fiancée, God said he would lure Israel to the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. The wilderness becomes a quiet secluded area where privacy can be practised. In the wilderness there would not be any interruption so that full attention without interference, distraction and pretence shall be seen in full force. The wilderness becomes a love garden for God to showcase his love for Israel. This wilderness would be the heart where no one else inhabits and where love can be truly practised. God is here going to use a language of love and friendship to bring Israel back to himself so that it would be like in those days when Israel showed committed love to God; this is what the writer means by using the words: in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. Israel would now be married to her God; they will start enjoying a lasting relationship of love.

Beloved, God uses many ways to lure us to himself with tender loving care. He neglects our faults and forgets the sins of our past and even overlooks the present but treating us with faithfulness and righteousness, with steadfast love and mercy. We do things that would make God to pay us back for our iniquities but rather he shows us love and forgiveness. Many times that by Justice God was supposed to be hard and hash on us, he goes by tender compassion so as to lure us to himself in a relationship of love and mercy. It is then important to ask whether this touch has a permanent impression in our lives and does it uplift our trust and faith in God? In life many things threaten us and they are stronger than us. Many things put us into fear and confusion such that we do not know what to do. When life vicissitudes weigh us down and put us into heavy hearts; what do we do and where do we go? The wise thing to do is to hasten to the one who loves us, who lures us to his heart and who is able to do all things for us. This is the kind of friend we have who can do anything to make us happy.

In the gospel today, one thing is very surprising in the attitude of the ruler who came in where Jesus was speaking and the intention of coming. This man came in and simply did not observe any protocol but made his request to Jesus: “My daughter has just died; but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live” When he had ascertained that the daughter was dead, why did he leave the corpse and the mourning family and leave crying in search of Jesus? Is Jesus to serve as an undertaker in funeral or the cause of the death? Why didn’t he go and start the plans for funeral and burial which should follow naturally after death? This man made a child-like request that seems ridiculous and stupid in the eyes of the mere rational human beings who are onlookers. He said: … but come and lay your hand on her, and she will live. This shows some free and unofficial relationship of free access to Jesus. He shows that he has a stake in Jesus or believes that he has right of something from Jesus and of course Jesus has a stake in his life. For this man, Jesus is the man who raises the dead. He is the last resort when all human efforts fail and when all hopes are lost. Jesus is the final bus-stop and saviour to run to in times of need. He is the one that does not need long speeches but simple request. He can be approached simply and easily without fear or any doubt but with full trust and confidence and in faith that whatever that is presented to Jesus is resolved forthwith. Jesus is that true lover who cannot disappoint the request of a true friend.

Jesus could not disappoint such a child-like faith and trust in him- one who trusts in divine providence and intervention. As those who did not have the sort of faith of that man were celebrating the funeral, he went to celebrate Life with and in Jesus. The man of faith came in with Jesus who said to them: Depart; for the girl is not dead but sleeping. The faithless people laughed at him but the man’s faith was resolute and not in doubt. He was only waiting for Jesus to touch the child. Jesus did it and the child rose up to life. This was the same faith of the woman with the flow of blood. She saw in Jesus what the ruler saw; a man of all possibilities and her faith did not disappoint her but was acclaimed by Jesus when he said: Take heart my daughter; your faith has made you well. And instantly the woman was made well. Her faith has only made her say: If only I touch his garment, I shall be made well. This was the panacea and remedy of her condition. This should be yours as well.

Beloved, what is it that weighs down on you? What is it that takes your joy away? What are your frustrations? What sickness has troubled you as if it has assumed a permanent state? May your faith become undoubted and lead you courageously to Jesus. May you find mercy and love shown to you in Jesus. May you hear Jesus saying to your situation: Take heart, your faith has made you well. Let God show his kindness and compassion to you that you may declare his mighty works; may his goodness abound in your life always, and may he as a true lover and friend of yours hasten to your request always and even now, Amen.

Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf

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