FR. BEN’S HOMILY FOR THE 15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: GO AND DO LIKEWISE!
BY: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY JULY 10 2022
*Deut 30 :10 – 14, Col 1 :15 – 20, Lk 10 :25 – 37.
A Christian is one who obeys the voice of Christ, not one who is merely initiated into a group/ denomination of Christians. The earlier we begin to emphasize this question of obedience to God’s word, the better for modern day Christianity.
What unites both the Old testament and New testament (as we can see in the 1st reading and gospel of today) is the commandment: ‘To love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your strength and your neighbour as yourself’.
B. CHARACTERS/ LESSONS OF STUDY
There are 6 characters of study in today’s gospel, each loaded with heavy lessons for our theological nourishment in today’s liturgy;
1. WHO IS MY NEIGHBOUR?
(a) The Scribe; He was a lawyer, with their usual penchant for academic definitions and legalistic niceties. Amidst the conflicts of opinions among various religions; Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confusianism, etc on the question of salvation, he reposits the question to Jesus: ‘Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? It was such a genuine and academic question.
– Jesus’ own take on this all important question was quite revolutionary. My personal summative reading on Jesus’ concept of salvation is his teaching on love as a fruit /sign of those saved. Jesus’ answer: ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and your neighbour as yourself’ required further clarification and had to lead to a follow – up question: ‘And who is my neighbour?’
– The question of the Scribe is therefore reversible: Not, ‘What must I do?’ but for Jesus, ‘What must I be?’ And if Jesus answers ‘A compassionate neighbour’, the next practical question becomes: ‘Who is my neighbour?’
– This second question could also be expanded as follows: ‘Who should I love and how should I love? This question needed to be clarified in a world where the word ‘neighbour’ has been confined to mean ‘fellow Jew’ or ‘fellow muslim’. Many religious sects today (including some denominations of Christianity) love only members of their own fellowship.
2. SIGNS OF LOVE
(b) Jesus; Jesus’ answer is that love must be expressive, 1Jn 3 :16, expansive, Matt 5 :45 – 48 and also expensive, Jn 15 :13. He explains this by the richly educative parable of the Good Samaritan with the following lessons;
(i) We must help a person even when he /she (or his parents) has brought his trouble on himself /herself, eg beggars and mad people.
(ii) Our help must be as wide (expansive) as possible to reach out to our hidden neighbours, Matt 5 :45 – 48.
(iii) The help must be practical/urgent and not merely theoretical: feeling sorry like the Priest or Levite.
*Example of what we see today during condolences to a berieved widow /orphan.
*The problem of favoritism is destroying the Nigerian society hook, line and sinker. The corruption in University admissions reveal the unexpansiveness of our love. Even the Church is not left unscathed. Appointment of bishops being challenged in places like Ahiara are based on claims of favouritism by some ‘ecclesiastical clans’. Whether true or false, only God knows but the harvoc is enormous.
(c) The traveller; He was careless and reckless by travelling alone while carrying goods – convoys and caravans should have helped out.
*Fr Uche Obodoechina told me some years ago, the touching story about the accident he had along Abuja road few years ago. While running away from a Dangote trailler, he fell into a ditch with his car shattered, about to catch fire and he, alone and desperate. It took the intervention of some ‘non Christians’ (good Samaritans) to take the risk and enter that ditch to rescue him.
4. DUTY – CONSCIOUSNESS
(d) The Priest; He hastened past, observing his professional etiquette, Num 19 :11 – He who touched a dead man was unclean for 7 days. He had to set the ceremonial law above the laws of charity.This is the temptation many priests have even till today.
5. SAFETY CONSCIOUSNESS
(e) The Levite; The Levites’ motto is ‘safety first’ in an environment where bandits were in the habit of pretending to be wounded to get advantage of their captives.
*Nowadays some armed robbers even disguise as Rev Sisters in need.
*The murder case at Barracks Nsukka few years ago – the hired assasins pretended to have a flat tyre with a byke beside a water flood at the late hours of the evening. The targeted lady drew near to help and was fired directly blowing off her skull.
6. THE UNORTHODOX CHRISTIAN
(f) The Samaritan; Unorthodox, but he alone was prepared to help his neighbour (the wounded man). He was a heretic (from the point of view of Judaic religion) but the love of God was in his heart, cf Matt 7:21, 1Jn 4 :16, Matt 25 :35f, Col 1 :18.
* Quote St John of the Cross : ‘In the end, we shall be judged, not by the creed we hold but by the life we live’.
The gospel reading ends with a categorical imperative from Christ: ‘Go and do likewise’. The highest lesson is that among the 6 characters we find in today’s gospel pericope, neither the Scribe who asked the question, the traveller who put himself in trouble, the Priest who was duty bound nor the Levite who was too safety conscious had the certificate for salvation except the ‘Good Samaritan’. This is going to be the ultimate surprise of the last day.
As the Scribe was anxious to justify himself as a holy man, many of us Christians, especially we theologians and religious people, are always anxious to justify ourselves using different kinds of arguments. Many Christians are becoming more and more hypocritical, making a lot of noise in the Church on Sundays without making our country any better.
Unless we put the correct emphasis of our spiritual lives on practical love, we may end up missing the real mark of Christianity. Love is not a merely theoretical thing to be expressed just on the pulpit, ceremonious gatherings or even on the pages of Watsap and Facebook, there are are 3 signs of love / good neighbourliness which we see from today’s gospel; CONCERN, COMPASSION and CARE. The good Samaritan alone manifested all these.
* I once posted on a watsap page of priests that I didn’t sleep the previous night due to a pastoral burden. I was so happy when a brother priest left what he was doing the next morning just to come and console and encourage me.
The 2nd reading says that Christ is the image of the invisible God and what he has told us today about salvation is to go and do like the ‘Good Samaritan’. Happy Sunday beloved friends!
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