FR. BEN’S HOMILY FOR THE 11TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR B
THEME: SPIRITUAL INSPECTION
BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo
HOMILY: *Ezek 17:22-24, 2 Cor 5:6-10, Mk 4:26-34.
The Church is today compared to a majestic tree that will bear fruit and give shelter to birds of every kind. We are however not interested in forestry but about people. God creates and gives us grace. We grow up needing nutrients, protection from the scorching sun and nurture against weeds, etc. We need proper inspection as a nation and as a Church in order to be able to cooperate with God’s grace.
*B. EXAMINING YOUR GROWTH GRADIENT*
It was the great wise man Socrates who said donkey years ago that ‘An unexamined life is not worth living’. This Sunday, the Church wants us to examine our spiritual lives and see how it is growing. ‘God is the author and finisher of our faith’, Heb 12:2. He says in today’s 1st reading that He is the one who stunts tall trees and makes the low ones grow, Ezek 17:22-24. It is true that man proposes but God disposes. While medical doctors provide medication, only God heals. Though teachers instruct only God gives wisdom. In today’s gospel Christ says: ‘A man throws seed on the field night and day while he sleeps and wakes, the seed is sprouting and growing: how…he does not know…But God alone monitors the growth. We need to examine the following areas in our spiritual life:
*1. PRAYER LIFE* : Prayer is the greatest instrument of spiritual growth ; it is the principal avenue of communication with divinity. Fr Emma Onuh of blessed memory says that, ‘Prayer is the dialect of salvation and all who cannot speak it are dumb, near dead and near damned’. St Teresa of Avila says that, ‘He who does not pray does not need the devil to lull him to hell but proceeds there eagerly by himself’. We need to examine our prayer life both private and public. Are we growing like the mustard seed, stagnant or moribund?
*2. BIBLE STUDY* : St Jerome says emphatically that, ‘Ignorance of the scripture is ignorance of Christ’ and Christ himself says: ‘If you remain in my word…you are truly my disciple, you will come to know the truth and the truth will set you free’, Jn 8:31. It is worse for priests and pastors when they are not constantly tuned to the Word of God. It is very easy to begin preaching the WORD OF MEN rather than that of God. Examine your daily and weekly bible study time table again. Look at what a theologian says: ‘If you sow a thought, you reap a habit. If you sow a habit, you reap a character. If you sow a character you reap a destiny’. Yes! That is true about the word of God. Like a mustard seed, small ideas from the scriptures get deep to influence your behavior and destiny. It is a very gradual process.
*3. ROLE OF THE EUCHARIST* : The Eucharist is our family feast. It is the food which God has prepared through which he nourishes us with the Body and Blood of Christ, Jn 6 : 54. Jesus is our bond of unity and keeps us one by being in communion with our Bishop and remaining in a state of grace.
*4. PRAXIS* : Examine your practical life every day. Is it inundated by love or hate? It is important you check this now before it is too late. Only that will be judged when the chips are down. How hard-working are you? How do you manage your time? Are you a farmer, teacher, civil servant, trader, student, etc…How much time and energy do you dedicate to your duty?
How do you manage sin? Funny question! Sin-management looks like a weird subject. Some will say they have broken with sin and God has taken control but the reality is that the old man still rears its ugly head here and there. You better learn how to deal with him. There are some sins (mortal) you can’t even afford to tolerate one minute, 1 Jn 5:16 because they will wound you. How regular is your confessions?, Lk 5:14. Are there habitual sins messing you up? What have you done about them? Mhhh! Don’t just think His mercy is so great, His justice could be greater, Sirach 5:6-7.
Now answer yourself this important question: Are you growing spiritually or are you diminishing? Think of your former relationship with God. You have less love now than before?, Rev 2:5. Are you living carnally (in the body- with too much food, sex, drinks)? Don’t you realize that to gratify the body so much is to be exiled from the spirit? Each of us will be brought to the supreme court of Christ to be examined according to his life in the body or in the spirit, 2 Cor 5:6-10. Do you still consider fasting important?Okay! Don’t worry too much if you have failed this exam! But begin again to make some spiritual struggle. J Mason says, ‘If you can’t run you walk. If you cannot walk you crawl but just make sure you are moving (spiritually)’. According to Thomas Jefferson, ‘Wisdom is knowing what to do. Skill is knowing how to do it. Virtue is doing it’. Let’s tackle now the challenges of our spiritual growth before it is too late.
As a Church, how do we assess good Christians (for example during clearance for full/ partial Christian burial)? We may need to begin checking one’s attendance to Sunday and Daily masses, Evening Bible Study, Pious Societies, even before checking how much he / she is owing. As Pastors we need periodic Zonal and Family inspection. Our Spiritual life , just like other aspects of life , require constant inspection to know whether it is growing or dwindling.
As a nation we may need to reevaluate our Constitution, the need for Restructuring, especially in the area of economy and security. How can a State Governor, for instance pose as the Chief Security Officer of his State but cannot exert any executive powers in moments of grave insecurity? How can the Chairman of a Local Government Area receive Federal allocations but cannot assess it for the benefit of his people? How can Herders prevent farmers from farming and we say we are improving on Agriculture? How can we say we are in a Federal government but unitary in practice? The time for holistic self inspection is now or never!
Happy Sunday dear friends!
FR BEN AGBO