HOMILY FOR THE 20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C
THEME: CONFLICT BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL
BY: Fr Cyril UNACHUKWU CCE
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY AUGUST 14 2022
The reality of tension is lived and felt by everyone in different grades and styles. The fundamental cause of this tension is the age-long conflict between good and evil, between truth and falsehood, and between light and darkness. This conflict manifests itself in different ways and God’s children often find themselves in the midst of this conflict on a daily basis. Jesus Himself was caught up in its web and with His divine power won victory for all. The Christian is one who makes the victory of Christ the very inspiration and source of his or her own victory in the midst of this conflict and tension. May we always stand for the truth, for the good and in the light; Amen.
The words of Jesus in the Gospel Reading of today (Luke 12:49-53) must have seemed very antithetical for his disciples. How is it that Jesus who speaks of peace and love began to say these hard and very scandalous words? “I have come to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were blazing already… do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Irrespective of how hard these words may seem, Jesus knew that not everybody would accept His message of love and peace. Not everybody desires to be within the coverage of the Light of Christ. The ultimate plot of the Devil and his cohorts is to trap and enslave us in his bondage of darkness. The truth is that for Jesus to offer us peace naturally signals the existence of war and disharmony. For Him to lead us through the path of love indicates also the reality of hate around us and among us. All those who belong to the negative and ungodly extremes and who wish to remain in such damnatory domains fight back and resist every form of encounter with the redemptive and liberative merits of Christ. It is in this sense that we must understand why a household that should ordinarily live in love, peace and harmony would be divided and would co-exist in abject disintegration, and sometimes even with the intent to extinguish the existence of their fellows. It is also in this context that we have to understand the divisive conflict between parents and children, between siblings and even amongst friends. This is the fire Jesus is speaking about! This type of fire consumes and destroys more than the physical fire. Whereas the physical fire sometimes possess purificatory and refinery effects, this type of fire that Jesus speaks about is totally destructive and against progress and development; it is against joy and happiness; and it militates against human existence. This type of fire is anti-God and against the Word of God.
The experience of the prophet Jeremiah in the First Reading (Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10) was within the context of the conflict of these contraries that are ontologically and ontically contradictory to each other. The positive and good side of these contraries are from above; they are godly and orients all to God. The other side, negative and absolutely bad, are from below, from the evil one whose main purpose is “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10). Jeremiah spoke the Word of God but his opponents wanted their own words and plans to prevail that they plotted against him; “let Jeremiah be put to death: he is unquestionably disheartening the remaining soldiers in the city, and all the people too, by talking like this… so they took Jeremiah and threw him into the well.” As Christians, we must always be disposed to encounter and experience this tension and conflict in our respective lives and endeavours. It is never a sweet or easy pill to swallow. However, it is sometimes a sign that we are on the right track when these conflicts and tensions begin to manifest. It always comes in the form of opposition. It opposes everything good, even the Word of God and the prophets of God and the Church of God. This is very true and real in our families, communities, places of work and regrettably even sometimes in the House of God – the Church. In the midst of these tensions, one thing is sure, the light must always overpower darkness; the truth must always prevail; and the good must surely win victory over evil and naturally diffuse itself. This was also the experience of Jeremiah, “take three men with you from here and pull the prophet Jeremiah out of the well before he dies.” With the experience of Jeremiah, we learn how important it is to keep firm and resolute in our journey with God and in our defence of heavenly virtues. The Second Reading (Hebrews 12:1-4) summarises it with these words, “throw off everything that hinders us… keep running steadily in the race we have started. Let us not lose sight of Jesus, who leads us in our faith and brings it to perfection.” Our vocation as Christians is never to give in to the antics and tactics of the ‘opposition party’, but to remain Spirit-filled, Spirit-inspired and Spirit-led witnesses of the Victory of Christ over all the powers of darkness, and falsehood and evil.
All-powerful and ever living God, through the merits of the Victory of Your Son Jesus Christ and by the power of Your Spirit, may we remain firm in the exercise and living of our prophetic ministry in the world and may we always be victorious in our daily struggle to make Your reign acknowledged by all; Amen. Happy Sunday.
Fr Cyril UNACHUKWU CCE