CYCLE II: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 12TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: DEPARTURE TO BABYLON!
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: *2 Kg 24 :8 – 17, Matt 7 : 21 – 29.
In today’s gospel, Jesus concludes the sermon on the mountain by revealing the one and only criterion for true discipleship – not just professing but doing the will of the Father. ‘The modern man’, says Pope Paul VI, ‘no longer listens to preachers but witnesses. And if at all they will listen to preachers, it is because they are witnesses’. Hypocrisy is the weakest foundation that Christianity can ever be built upon. According to Charles Colton, ‘If the devil ever laughs, it must be at hypocrites; they are the greatest dupes he has; they serve him better than any others, but receives no wages’.
Jesus made it clear in today’s gospel: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, shall enter the kingdom of heaven but he who does the will of my father who is in heaven”. The Word of God (carrying the will of God) is like the healthy seed that is scattered by a sower (eg a preacher) upon different soil conditions ; when it falls on the wayside, there is no foundation, the devil quickly takes it away ; when it falls on sandy soil, there is no depth, no sincerity of purpose, the devil quickly rejoices at that and makes a caricature of believers here; when it falls on rocky soil, there is stiff resistance due to philosophical skepticism, excess rationalization, conservatism, fanaticism or anything that makes faith not go deep ; when it falls on thorny soil, it is chocked by the temptations and allurements of this world – sexual desires, financial difficulties, sicknesses and all forms of temptations.
Jesus makes it clear that the principal criterion for true discipleship is obedience to the will of God, not the manifestation of charismatic gifts like healing, deliverance, tongues, miracles, etc. Christ is going to deny a lot of pastors and believers on the last day inspite of all the religious noise they made here on earth. As he abandoned the Israelites in today’s 1st reading to captivity in Babylon, he will abandon and deny any believer that is not true to his word. It is dangerous to pretend like we see in Nigeria, to be a religious country with churches and mosques all over the place while crime and corruption perdues. The danger of Islamization keeps loading by the day if Christians don’t seek the will of God.
Without the fruits of holiness, we run the risk of hearing these chilling words from the master at the end of our lives : ‘I never knew you. Out of my sight, you evil doers!’. Evil doers are all over the place shouting the name of Jesus : idolaters, disobedient people, murderers, adulterers, thieves, slanderers, jealous and avaricious people. Jesus is saying that they will not enter the kingdom of heaven. It does not matter how much they pretend and cover their sins with the garb of religion.
Evil doing always produces the ugly consequences of deportation, especially disobedience to God’s Word. Pretending to be a religious country without doing God’s will is just to be like the corrupt Kingdom of Judah as we find in today’s 1st reading. The consequence was deportation into the Babylon of slavery. I am so afraid of Nigeria the way she is going now. We may claim to be a very religious nation with plenty of churches and mosques but our religion seems to be more hypocritical than actual. A lot of evil is being committed in broad daylight by our rich men (many of who, claim to be Christians and Muslims) and they are neither being accousted by the government nor their religious leaders. The politics of opposition is becoming more amoral than political. The battle line of destruction on our economy is already drawn – an oil based economy is being vandalized in broad daylight by selfish aristocrats. Terrorism is being sponsored on all sides. Are we not being gradually deported to the ‘Babylon of national extinction’? Can’t we feel the sounds of war especially in the South East as our farmers are being displaced in their forests by armed Fulani herdsmen? Unless evil is condemned and rejected from all sides – Christians and Muslims – our Babylon is very near! I pray that Christianity in Nigeria will not end up like a house built upon the sand. I pray that we will not end up in Babylon.
May God bless you today!