CYCLE II: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 23RD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE GOLDEN RULE OF CHARITY!
BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo
HOMILY: * 1 Cor 8: 1 – 13, Lk 6: 27 – 38.
I have discovered after some years in the priestly ministry that ‘People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care’. That is why the humble, loving but not so knowledgeable ministers of God tend to achieve more (impact more on people’s lives) than the proud but knowledgeable ones. St Paul explains to the Corinthians in today’s 1st reading that ‘knowledge puffs up, but love builds up’. That means that when our knowledge gets too much on our head and departs from our heart, pride has set in. Sanni Surk defines pride as the obesity of the mind. Pride makes you ‘talk at’ people but love makes you ‘talk to’ people. It makes you very considerate.
Christ poses in today’s gospel periscope, his highest challenge to Christians: ‘Love your enemies and do good to those who hate you ; bless those who curse you…and give to everyone who begs from you’. In a sense I can say that 4 classes of our enemies are mentioned here;
1. STRIKERS; Those who strike us – He wants us to turn the other cheek (don’t strike back).
2. ROBBERS; Those who take our properties by force – He wants us not to resist them.
3. BEGGERS; Those who habitually beg from us can in a sense, be called enemies because they can pose a threat to our financial security. But Christ wants us to give to them.
4. BORROWERS; Those who borrow from us without paying back are real enemies because they are like 419 defrauders trying to crumble our economy. Still Christ wants us in this case not to keep lending to the person but to let go the debt instead of making case or going to evil shrines for redress as some people do.
Another dimension of charity, according to Christ in today’s gospel is the dimension of mercy. He says: ‘Be merciful even as your heavenly father is merciful’. ‘To err is human’, people say, ‘but to forgive is Divine’. So, all children of God must partake in this attribute of divinity. I have said elsewhere that ‘Those who can only love those who love them are pagans, those who cannot love those who love them are mad/ demonized people but only those who can love those who hate them are Christians’. Christ gives us the GOLDEN RULES OF CHARITY in today’s gospel : ‘As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them’. For me, Advanced level charity is love of enemies. Ordinary level charity is love of friends. Primary level charity is love of relations and townsmen. While Kindergarten level charity is love of one’s own children and family members alone. Mothers who only operate here are not yet SPECIAL MOTHERS (Nnemuroha).
The final dimension of charity that Christ addresses in today’s gospel is the dimension of judgment. Christ is not actually saying that we should never judge but we should exercise mercy in judgment.
- Story of the old king who wanted to hand over his kingdom to any of his 3 children that performs the most noble deed; the 1st one was able to overcome a big temptation to defraud somebody. The 2nd one was able to risk his life in order to save a dying man. The 3rd one was able to do good to save his enemy from harm. The king gave it to the 3rd son.
We must try to answer the call of charity and give generously even to our enemies; our strikers, robbers, beggars and borrowers.
May God bless you today!