CYCLE II: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 10TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME HOMILY THEME: Feast of St Barnabas: PRIVATE VS PUBLIC MINISTRY. BY: Fr. Ben Agbo   HOMILY: * Act 11: 21 – 13: 3, Matt 10: 7 – 13. The thin line that separates private from public ministry is detachment. The former is business, the latter is a Church; the former is supported through a bill / price tag/ levy, the latter is supported through free will donation; the former has its treasury controlled and administered by the individual, the latter has its treasury controlled by a transparent public servant; the former is self motivated and self inspired, the latter is commissioned through ordination/ official prayer of conferment by the Church. We are told in today’s 1st reading that in the case of Barnabas and Paul, “after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off”. The Church at Antioch was an ideal Church; its pastors had a collaborative ministry – Barnabas went and brought Paul who was more gifted than him yet they worked together like brothers. The believers had both faith and love. Their leader was a good man full of the Holy Spirit. The rest of the Parishioners were imitating their love. They were first called Christians not because of what they claimed they were but because of the life people saw they lived. In the gospel, Christ charged his apostles with a ministry that was basically charismatic than merely structural or administrative. He charged them with a healing ministry (to cure the sick), a restoration ministry ( to revive the dead, physically or spiritually), a deliverance ministry ( to cast out demons), a free ministry ( where services were to be given without charge) and a peaceful ministry ( where the ministers must bring peace and blessing to those who receive them not the opposite). The major requirement from them was detachment (take no gold, no bag nor sandals) ; priestly celibacy gives us the most fecund environment to realize this. But where are we now? Where is that Church that Jesus founded? Where is that Church that Barnabas and Paul established at Antioch? I hear that Muslims have over run the whole place. Even in Europe, many Christian Churches are now handing over their spaces to Muslims who are growing in their numbers. Why? Because the ministry that Jesus founded has in most places gone private rather than public; structural more than charismatic, materialistic more than spiritual. Fr Emma Onuh put it this way: ‘The Church began in Jerusalem more than 2000 years ago as a spiritual experience, went to Rome as an institution, came to Europe as a way of life, went to America as business and came to Africa as charity’. What do we do to bring back the focus? Let us imitate Barnabas and Paul in their detachment and love. May God bless you today!

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