CYCLE II: HOMILY FOR TUESDAY OF 15TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: IF YOU DO NOT BELIEVE…
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: * Is 7: 1 – 9, Matt 11: 20 – 24.
Faith is not about what you think but about what God thinks; It is not about what people are saying but about what God has said in his Scriptures and revealed to the teaching magisterium of his Church. The Bible warns that ‘ Without faith, it is impossible to please God’, Heb 11 : 6. The simplest definition of faith I have seen from Mary Roswell is ‘Saying “Amen” to God in all situations’. I have said elsewhere that ‘Faith means drawing strength from God. It is the beginning, the centre and the end of the spiritual life. God cannot simply do anything for somebody that does not give him the chance. We give God this chance through our faith’.
In today’s gospel, Jesus declares woes on the 3 most faithless cities around Galilee for rejecting the gospel of Christ ; Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. Incidentally, these were the places where Christ preached first and worked more miracles . Even the foremost apostles Peter, Andrew and Philip were from there. Major miracles of Christ were done in these places ; Resurrection of the Noble man’s dead son, Jn 4 :47, healing of Peter’s mother in law, Matt 8 :14, the Centurion’s servant, Matt 8 :14, the Ruler’s daughter,Matt 9 :18 – 25, etc. One thing is clear ; that if our lives are corrupt, our prayer is corrupt, our faith is also corrupt.
The Bible makes it clear that righteousness exalts a nation and sin brings reproach to a whole lot of people, Prov 14 :34. But as the Responsorial Psalm of today says : God upholds his city forever, Ps 49 :9. Today’s 1st reading says that Ahaz the king of Judah was afraid when Rezin the king of Syria threatened to wage war against them. But the Lord spoke through Isaiah and told him not to fear. He needed just one thing : faith. He was warned : ‘If you will not believe, surely you will not be established’.
Every faithless city goes the way of Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum. Since the Roman invasion of Jerusalem in the year 70AD, Christ’s prophesy came to fulfilment. These communities are nowhere in the map of any Country anymore. We need to be careful the way we reject the gospel as a community or city because the consequence is often calamitous.
Friends, faith is a daily investment which God makes in each one of us. He doesn’t increase the capital until he sees the profit. ‘To him whom much is given, much is expected’. Faith and fear are inversely proportional. When Ahaz’ faith was ravaged by the tempest of fear/ anxiety about the dangerous alliance that was snowballing between Rezin (the King of Assyria) and Pekah (the King of Israel), Isaiah was such a good spiritual doctor to the King.
Look, so many Christians are suffering today because they believe in God but fail to believe in what God can do in their critical moments. So many priests are operating powerlessly today because they have failed to believe even in the efficacy of their own power/ authority of the priesthood. Our relevance today as priests/ Christians to our society will be judged by the litmus test of faith ( both dogmatic, practical and sacramental) ; Many are busy protecting the structures/ deposit of faith experience kept by their forefathers while others are busy breaking new grounds of faith and thus affirming existential relevance. The Word of God says today: ‘Look, if you don’t believe, you shall not be established’. Christianity in Nigeria will not be firmly established unless we (especially priests) really believe in what God can do.
May God bless you today!