FR. BEN’S HOMILY FOR FRIDAY OF THE 15TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME CYCLE I
THEME: THE DAY OF THE LORD!
BY: FR BEN Cosmo Agbo
HOMILY: * Ex 11 : 10 – 14, Matt 12 : 1 – 8.
One of the statutes observed by children of God from different religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, etc) is to keep holy the ‘day of the Lord’. What does this mean? The Isrealites were told in today’s 1st reading : ‘This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord ; throughout your generations you shall observe it as an ordinance for ever’. Celebrating people’s anniversary is one way of honouring them and showing signs of fellowship with them. It is even more so with God. And so, it happened that after the redemption of the Isrealites from slavery in Egypt, they were told to keep the date for this celebration just like after the creation of man, the Sabbath day of rest was reserved to honour God as creator of the universe. From the Christian understanding, the Sabbath is best celebrated today on Sundays being the day our Lord rose from the dead while the Passover day is best celebrated on Holy Thursday being the day both the Eucharist and the Priesthood was instituted.
But beyond the mere rituals of celebration of these days of the Lord is the underlying purpose of honour and worship. Legalism is the error of emphasizing the letters of the law beyond its purpose. For example, the idea of not doing any hard work or normal business transactions on Sundays is to be able to concentrate on honouring God on that day. But how about the Catholic priests who celebrate 2 or 3 Masses on Sundays and end up sweating profusely on that day. Have they profaned the Sabbath? Jesus reminded the legalistic Pharisees of the provisions of the scriptures where on the Sabbath, priests in the temple seem to profane the Sabbath and are guiltless. He now concluded by telling them that ‘If you had known what this means… You would not have condemned the guiltless’. I know a group in the Catholic Church today who frown seriously at the sale of bulletins or objects of worship on Sundays forgetting the primary purpose of the sale. How about other people who provide essential services for the people of God on Sundays, like the doctors and nurses? It was essential for the disciples of Jesus to pluck corns and eat on the Sabbath day because Jesus their master is the Lord of the Sabbath. It was actually the Pharisees themselves who were dishonouring the Lord of the Sabbath.
We remind Christians especially Catholics that if there is any day they must attend mass and receive the Eucharist of necessity, it is the Holy Thursday. This awareness is gradually waning down. The number of Christians who participate in the Chrism mass and the Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper is gradually reducing. Sunday is also fast turning into a day for all sorts of meetings and travelling rather than a day of prayer and study of the Word of God. We need a renaissance of awareness of this need for Christians to honour the day of the Lord. Sundays must be honoured both in the morning (through Sunday mass) and in the evening (through Bible study and Benediction) . The Lord said : ‘Do this in memory of me’ and God said that this Passover memorial (evening mass of the Lord’s supper) must be kept as a feast for all generations of the Children of God.
May God bless you today!
FR BEN Cosmo Agbo