HOMILY FOR FRIDAY AFTER EPIPHANY
HOMILY THEME: PAGAN FEARS!
BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo
HOMILY: * 1 Jn 5 : 5 – 13, Lk 5 : 12 – 16.
Idolatry comes with a number of fears; fear of the unknown, fear of sicknesses, fear of death, fear of poverty, fear of enemies, etc. In my Parish today, one of the greatest pastoral problems I am facing is that each time a person dies, people go to diviners to ascertain what killed him/ her. The next thing is for the diviners to say that it is one deity or the other and therefore needs to be appeased with so so and so amount of money to avoid killing more people. The Bible made it clear that pagan idols are made of silver and gold – of human hands , and that their makers will come to be like them, Ps 115 : 8. Who is it that overcomes the world? Today’s 1st reading emphatically states that it is only the person that sincerely believes in Jesus’ death. 3 witnesses confirm this new level of faith ; water confirms our baptism/ repentance, blood confirms our redemption and purification from sin and the Spirit confirms our renewal/ regeneration through the Word of God.
The man full of leprosy in today’s gospel is like the man full of mortal sins who comes before Jesus and makes a sample / perfect prayer of petition : ‘Lord, if you will, you can make me clean’. That prayer communicated his level of faith and resignation to the will of God. The next message from Jesus will be about the role of the priesthood in the healing ministry. The request, ‘Go and show yourself to the priest’ will be like sending the leper for a sacrament of absolution today guaranteeing his cleansing and freedom from excommunication.
Idolatry begets a number of problems; curses, diseases, poverty, pain and death caused by fear, anxiety and ignorance. Idolatry promotes ignorance and the spirit of divination. We can only overcome the world by faith in Jesus Christ as the Son of God. ‘Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Hardship, distress, persecution, poverty, sicknesses…? Rom 8 : 35.
We need practical faith in Jesus Christ in order to overcome the world. But if we present our petitions to Him, like the Leper in today’s gospel, we must always submit them with resignation to His will. That is the difference between Christianity and Idolatry. His will is conditioned by his wisdom and mercy. He knows what is good for us all the time, Rom 8 : 28.
May God bless you today!
FR BEN AGBO.