FR. BEN’S HOMILY FOR FRIDAY OF THE 16TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME CYCLE I
THEME: THE PURPOSE OF THE LAW
BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo
HOMILY: * Ex 20 : 1 – 17, Matt 13 : 18 – 23.
The command of the law is clear, enlightening the eye. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul, Ps 19 : 19. Indeed, the law is good; the law is spiritual, Rom 7 : 12. But for the law to bear good fruits, it must proceed from the heart. The heart is the field, according to the gospel of today, where the Word of God and the commandments of God are sown in order to produce good fruits.
How we observe the law matters. If we keep them out of fear and not from the motive of love, we defeat the whole purpose of God in giving them. Christian morality is therefore purpose – driven, not legalistic. For example, the first three commandments are mearnt to honour God. The 1st forbids the worship of images and not necessarily the making of images. The 2nd forbids the abuse of the name of God by swearing not necessarily the making of vows /oaths. The 3rd forbids the abuse of ‘Sabbath rest’ not necessarily against essential services on the Sabbath day /day of the Lord .
I want to attempt a connection between today’s 1st reading and the gospel. I want to imagine that many sins we commit are due to the distance of the Word of God from our hearts. I therefore want to use the gospel image of the pathway, the rocky ground and the thorny bush to illustrate the effects of sin in our spiritual life ;
1. Path way sins ; These are sins that affect our fellowship with God and weaken our feeling of Divine security. Idolatry for example makes one decamp from the membership of God’s household. It is like deflecting to another political party and carrying a new identity and ideological mantra. Same happens when we swear falsely, swear in pagan shrines , break our vows or abuse holy things or the day of the Lord.
2. Rocky ground sins ; These are sins that affect our natural spiritual foundations. For example, when we insult our parents we destroy a major source of blessings and ipso facto, weaken our spiritual immunity. This affects prosperity just like a house without good foundations is likely to collapse any moment.
3. Thorny ground sins ; These are sins that prick one’s conscience, offends one’s neighbour and affect the society like thorns will do to growing plants. For example when we commit murder, adultery or steal, a lot of injury is afflicted on the self, other person or society. When we bear false witness or slander someone’s name, we are pricking the person like thorns do to plants. The 9th and 10th commandments finally deal with greed as one of the greatest thorns in the flesh of the society. According to Vima Dasan, ‘There is so much poverty in the world today because, though there is enough in the world for everyone’ s need, there is not enough for everyone’s greed. Hence, among the 10 commandments God gave his people, he commanded us not to covet other’s property’. It is because of the importance of this commandment that it was repeated both for a man’s property and his wife’s (especially widows). The purpose of the Word of God is to touch our hearts fully with the love of God and neighbour in such a way that we can bear good fruits of holiness and spirituality.
May God bless you today!
FR BEN AGBO