HOMILY FOR THE 19TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: LIVELY FAITH
BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY AUGUST 7 2022
Psalm 33:1, 12, 18-19, 20-22
Hebrew 11:1-2, 8-19
On this 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the liturgy of today invite us to dwell upon the theme of LIVELY FAITH and our hope in the things to come. What awaits us in our future? What does the future hold in store for us? What awaits us when we die? Does what awaits us when we die influence what we do and how we live in this life? These are the big questions we face today and everyday of our lives.
The reading from the book of Wisdom upon first reading and hearing seems irrelevant to the theme of today, but a careful study and reflection would help us understand its relevance to the message of our liturgy today. The background is this. God told the Hebrews who were slaves in Egypt that he was going to do something to cause the Egyptians to let them go. The writer says that the “deliverance from Egypt was made known beforehand to our ancestors. And why did God let them know? Wisdom says because God wanted them to rejoice in their expectation of what God would do – the sure knowledge that he would keep his word and they would be delivered. They had to act on that knowledge, however, God issued orders of how they were to prepare a final meal, how their houses would be protected, and so on. Those who listened to God were spared the evil that befell the Egyptians and they were released from their bondage. This then is a story of foreknowledge that was acted on, and the Hebrews were successful.
“Faith is the confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.” Faith is not something that belongs only to religion, it belongs to everyday living. When we drive out of our compounds we do so with the faith that other motorists would be careful and drive safely. When we board our flights we do so with the faith that the pilots and the ground controllers would grant us safe landing. When we shop for our food items we do so also in faith that they are safe for our consumption. Our daily life is lived in faith – faith in one another.
Today’s Gospel reading from St. Luke begins by taking up the theme of last week, setting store on our treasure in heaven rather than being bound to our material treasures here on earth. Here Jesus speaks of material possessions as capturing the heart, not allowing one to be free to follow him. So he challenges his disciples to reveal what it is they really value, following him or being caught up in material wealth. To be able to follow Christ wholeheartedly requires faith – lively faith for that matter. To summarize it, to be a disciple of Jesus is to be fundamentally a man or woman of faith, someone who trusts completely in God throughout all the ‘ups and downs’ of life, someone who desires to do what God wants him to do even though he can’t precisely figure out what that is.
Our second reading of today therefore, presents us with the example of our father in faith, Abraham who demonstrated his faith in a very touching way, by accepting to sacrifice in burnt offering his son, born of old age. Showing his desire to do whatever God asks, an alternative item of sacrifice was provided by God Himself. From the example of Abraham we see that it’s the desire to please God that’s important. Significantly, therefore, when Jesus challenged his disciples, he prefaced his teaching with a counsel against fear. “Do not be afraid any longer…” Fear of uncertainty cripples many of us Christian from living out the gift of faith we have received.
As Christians we can prove that we are a people of faith by living every day as though we expect Jesus to return. Jesus challenges his followers to be always ready for his return, to live as if the end were near: to build a true treasure, not fleeting wealth, giving freely, being generous and living in the sight of God at all times. The world often lulls us into lethargy and comfort, and we forget that we are people on a journey and this is not our permanent home. We forget that we are living above all for the life to come and that this world, as good and beautiful as it is, is not our final destination.
Today’s gospel urges us to be awake and be watchful like servants awaiting their master’s return home from a wedding banquet. Watchfulness means living a consistent moral life in readiness to give an account to God of how we have lived. Since no one knows when the final judgment will happen, the wise person will always be prepared for it. Consistency is demanded of every servant. To be a servant is not to fulfill the duty and then the business is over. Servants are ready to serve whenever they are needed to do so. If we serve when it’s convenient for us, then we are not real servants. Real servants do what is needed, even when it’s inconvenient. Are we available to God anytime? As faithful servants we don’t choose when and where to serve. God’s agenda should always be our priorities.
Faithful servants do their best with what they have, be in terms of material resources or spiritual help. Faithful servants don’t make excuses, procrastinate or wait for better circumstances; they just do what needs to be done. Likewise, God expects us to do what we can, with what we have, wherever we are. Faithful servants don’t promote or call attention to themselves. Same goes for us, instead of acting to impress, we should “put on the apron of humility, to serve one another,”(1Pet5:5). Faithful servants never serve for the approval or applause of others. They live for only one person, their master. We are called to live for no one else but our God and Father.
How does all of this apply to us today and this week? Christ tells us in the Gospel reading that the Son of Man will be coming in judgment. As Catholics, we have faith that this is the case and we are asked to act on that faith. We have foreknowledge of a number of things that we as Catholics take on faith – that the soul lives on, that there is a kingdom of God, that a good life will be rewarded, that we must do things to prepare for our deaths – like almsgiving and love of neighbor.
The question we must ask ourselves is if our faith that Christ is telling the truth leads us to act on what we know. It is easy to just sit back and say I’ll see what happens, but even though we know we are going to die, we don’t know when. Even though we know Christ will come again, we don’t know when. Will we be ready or will we be sitting and waiting or even sleeping? The parables and the readings today are a wake-up call, that these things are going to happen, let’s take action to prepare for it!
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*