Fr. Ben’s homily for Wednesday of the 3rd Week in Ordinary Time Cycle II
Theme: Ss Timothy & Titus: THE MISSION OF THE 72 OTHERS.
By: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
Homily for Wednesday January 26 2022
*2 Tim 1 :1 – 8, Lk 10:1 – 9.
The 72 others sent out on mission by Christ in today’s gospel, represents the universal mission of ordained priests and also that of the lay evangelists. Ordination is the unction for mission as ministerial priests and in this particular area, the Bible says that ‘no one takes this honour upon himself’, Heb 5:4. But in general mission of evangelization, every baptized Christian shares in this anointing for mission.
The harvest vs labourers’ quotient remains low. It is a universal and eternal statement that the harvest, for ever, remains bigger than the ‘real labourers’. Take for instance, a young diocese like the Catholic diocese of Nsukka that began in 1991 with about 41 priests and 27 parishes, have risen in 2022 with about 275 priests and over 211 parishes. The interesting thing is that phenomenally speaking, even with all these present number of priests, there are over 20 demands for new parishes last year that were not granted due to paucity of priests. And even in those dioceses that seem to be over populated by priests, the fact still remains that the work is great but the ‘true labourers’ are few. And who are these ‘true labourers’ if we may ask?
In today’s gospel, 5 qualities of ‘true labourers’ are underlined:
(i) DETACHMENT: They must carry no haversack; no excess luggages. They must be detached from money, women, wine and the allurements of this world.
(ii) FOCUS: They must be focused on their pastoral duty not gallivanting from one social function to the other; traveling always from one end of a country to another; frolicking with useless friends and enemies of the evangelization. That is the real meaning of the biblical phrase ‘salute no one’.
(iii) HOLINESS: They must be men of peace imbued with the love of God and neighbour so that wherever they are, their lives will captivate people like magnet even more than what they say.
(iv) AVAILABILITY: The instruction to ‘stay in the same house and not to move from house to house, taking whatever food and drink they offer’ is just about availability. Even the discipline of celibacy (staying unmarried yet remaining chaste) is about availability to the people of God.
(v) CHARISMA: They were told: Whatever town you go in, eat whatever is set before you but don’t just eat without doing something. Cure those in it who are sick. What a challenge! The healing ministry is the proper ministry of priests. Through the Word of God and the Sacraments, priests heal /change the condition of the people from worse to better and not vice versa.
This last point strikes me most about the charismatic nature of the Priestly ministry. Our charismatic gifts must be well developed before we can function well as priests. St Paul warns Timothy in today’s 1st reading: ‘Even though your grandmother and your immediate mother were fervent christians; and so, you began the journey of faith early in life, make sure the charismatic fire in you does not die down. Fan into flame the gift you received at your Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders’. Without doing this, we remain timid and useless to the people as priests. The Spirit we received is a spirit of power, love and self control. What a challenge! Not only for ministerial priests but for every christian participating in the universal priesthood of Christ, 1Pet 2:9. May God bless you today!