CYCLE II: HOMILY FOR TUESDAY OF THE 28TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: PHARISEEISM CONDEMMED!
BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo
HOMILY: *Gal 5: 1 -6, Lk 11: 37 -41.
A Pharisee asked Him to dine with him. Yes, communion is usually the last stage of authentic relationship /discipleship, cf Lk 24: 13 -35 -the disciples on the journey to Emmaus. But in the course of this communion, the Pharisee was embarrassed /astonished that He did not 1st wash before dinner. And Jesus released the stinker message for today’s gospel : “You Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of extortion and wickedness”. Chai! This is always the consequence of every healthy association between light and darkness. The darkness must be confronted by the light, otherwise the light is covered by the darkness. There is no way true men of God will be dining with wicked politicians who extort and exploit the people of God without this necessary confrontation.
Next is that Jesus would not submit himself to any meaningless ritual/ man made rules. He told them again that the major problem with Pharisees was that they washed the outside of the cup when the inside remains dirty. He told them that they kept useless rituals and neglected the weightier matters of the law such as love for the poor and justice. Just look at how the Nigerian government has neglected the Youths with poor education and joblessness and now harassing the innocent ones with SARS. Rituals are only the facilitating factors for spirituality and not its core.
Authentic faith eschews all forms of Phariseeism. Authentic faith manifests in righteousness working through love. Through the Spirit, by faith, says St Paul in today’s 1st reading, we wait for the hope of righteousness. It is faith in the grace released by Christ’s death on the Cross that gives us righteousness. Right standing in Christ begets righteousness / right living, not unnecessary attachments to useless rituals. This right standing is a standing in both grace and freedom to choose what is right. According to Fr Emma Onu of blessed memory, “There is within each of us a Pharisee, a pagan, a sinner, a saint, name it. Being good or being bad depends largely on which trait we allow to dominate at any given time. That which compels us never to accept other truths is the Pharisee in us. That which makes us think that God can be accessed through stones, streams and elemental beings, is the pagan in us. That which prevents us from recognizing the will of God for us and from doing good, is the sinner in us. That which compels us to receive the word of God and to abide in it, is the saint in us”.
May God help us to remove all pharisaic and sinful tendencies in us and work towards sainthood!
FR BEN AGBO.