CYCLE II: HOMILY FOR WEDNESDAY OF THE 11TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: PROPHETIC VS PRIESTLY ANOINTING.
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: * 2 Kg 2 : 1 – 14, Matt 6 : 1 – 18.
I love to read about Elijah. Charismatics ( ie, all those who believe in the power of spiritual gifts) love to read a lot about him because we believe in the triple anointing of the priesthood ; the kingly, prophetic and priestly anointing. He reminds us of what a priest should be even though he was only a prophet. Without anointing/ empowerment, no one can be a powerful priest. At every ordination, there is a spiritual hand over. The Bible, talking about the priesthood says emphatically that ‘No one takes this honour upon himself’, Heb 5 : 4. It is also the case that no one receives and uses a gift he / she does not know about, Gal 4 : 1 – 7. Receptivity is an operative word in the realm of grace. This is actually what the Charismatic renewal is all about. Steve Clarke calls it “a renewal in expectant faith”. So, like Elisha did in today’s 1st reading, he asks for something – double portion anointing from his master – and followed it up with expectation. When he received it he knew, tested it and began to do exploits in the spirit.
Friends, we have before us today a primitive story of ordination – not to the priesthood ( as we perceive it today) but to prophethood (an aspect of the priesthood). It is a story of practical empowerment for ministry. Ordination gives one a new power ; a new anointing – an indelible character that changes his ontology. As soon as Elijah received the double portion anointing, he knew he had gotten it. He tested the new mantle of authority by performing the miracle of the divided river exactly as Elijah did few minutes ago and then proceeded to do spiritual exploits. My problem with the priesthood of today is that we are becoming too sorphistic and structural about the priestly ministry. We speak high sounding theologies and set up beautiful structures. But the reality is that relevance is more important than structures. It is of no use to spend time building concepts and structures of the priesthood that will become irrelevant after some time as it is happening in Europe today.
Priesthood or indeed any charism of service without spirituality is useless. Christ warns in today’s gospel that the greatest killer of spirituality is hypocrisy. Praying, fasting and almsgiving are three activities that make us spiritual but when hypocrisy affects any of these it becomes a wasted effort. Jesus therefore warns : When you are praying, don’t pray like a hypocrite ; When you are fasting, don’t look dismal ; When you are giving alms, do that in secret so that your father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you. ‘As a dead fly spoils the whole bottle of precious ointment’, says John Rose, ‘so hypocrisy spoils the precious virtues of almsgiving, praying and fasting’. We need to be spiritual as Elijah was in order to be vocationally relevant to our society either as priests or as lay people.
May God bless you today!