Homily for Monday of the 23rd week in the Ordinary Time Circle I:
Homily theme: THE PRIMACY OF LOVE!
By: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
St Paul says : ‘In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ’. But I thought Christ’s sufferings were perfect and complete. He himself said : ‘It is finished’, Jn 19 : 30. I think what is lacking now lies in our discipleship commitment – He wants us to share in his passions in 2 ways; 1st, by joyfully embracing the sufferings that glorify him – the sufferings that are in accordance with his will and plan for our lives. The 2nd way is by applying the merits of Christ’s sufferings to the sufferings and sicknesses of people around us. The Bible says ‘He was wounded for our transgressions and by his stripes we are healed’, Is 53 : 5. A theologian said that ‘the greatest tragedy is not that there is suffering in the world but that so much of it is wasted. It is just endured without reference to Christ or to those in need’.
Jesus could not ignore the plight of the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath day. Each time we read the story about the Buddhist master who gave a hungry beggar a statue of Buddha to sell and feed his family or of another Zen Master who burnt a statue in order to keep a group of tourists warm, we cannot but see the emphasis of every religion on the primacy of love. The callousness of the Scribes and Pharisees is still being repeated by many ‘religious people’ all over the world today – by priests and laity when they are blinded from seeing human needs and exigencies to emphasize the demands of the law above these needs. It can happen every day as we approach poor Christians in our offices, during wedding and funeral clearance, our reactions against the healing/ deliverance ministry of priests and lay people, etc. Christ may still like to break our ‘Sabbath laws’ in order to save a soul today because the salvation of souls is the principal rule ( ‘salus animarum suprema lege est’). Wickedness and insensitivity must never be hidden under the cloak of religious fanaticism. According to St Jerome’s Biblical Commentary, the man with the withered hand of today’s gospel, must have been a mason or labourer who needed his right hand so much in order to put food on the table for his family. In the wake of such emergencies, may we always be disposed like Christ to set priority on love /human need. May God bless you today!