HOMILY FOR THE 20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C (3)







HOMILY FOR THE 20TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

THEME: THE ORDEALS OF A GOOD PROPHET.

BY: Rev. Fr. Edward Onwueme E.

HOMILY FOR SUNDAY AUGUST 14 2022

 

1st Rd. Jer. 38:4-6.8-10,
2nd Rd. Hebrews 12:1-4;
Gospel Of St Luke 12:49-53.

PREAMBLE
We are in a world where many people don’t want to hear the truth. They want the prophets to be preaching what they like, and not what God wants. St Paul reveals in 2 Tim. 4:3 that, “The time will come when people will not listen to sound doctrine, but will follow their own desires and will collect for themselves more and more teachers who will tell them what they are itching to hear.” Many of us the ministers have failed God, because, we are no longer understanding the major aim of our vocation.
The first reading, presents the ordeals of prophet Jeremiah. While the Gospel presents the prophetic declaration of Jesus.

WHO IS A PROPHET?
A prophet is a person who speaks God’s truth to others. He is a person who receive God’s word and give people (Onye amuma bu onatara Chukwu ihe okpu na Onu, we nye umu mmadu).
Jesus who is the Truth, came to tell the world the truth. The ugly situation during the time of Jesus, is like times four in our present Nigerian’s situation. Perhaps, many will be surprised to hear from the One who has the title of, “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6), Who told His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you” (Jn. 14:27), Who gave His apostles peace as the first gift after His resurrection (Jn 20:19-23). How then can Jesus be saying in today’s Gospel, that He is coming to bring division and to cast fire on the earth.

FIRE AND DIVISION
Let us briefly examine these two figures of speech: Fire and Division.
1) The fire that Jesus came to cast on the earth is properly understood as a purifying and refining fire. In Mal. 3:2, the prophet spoke of the Lord being, “like a refiner’s fire and like a fuller’s soap,” that separates good from evil. The baptism spoken of here must not to be confused with His water baptism by John the Baptist (Matt 3:16). The baptism Jesus speaks of in Lk 12, is a baptism that had not yet occurred. This baptism is understood to be His death, burial and resurrection (see. Mk. 10:36).

2) Division: Jesus did not come to bring peace with the world but peace with God. In Jn 14:27, Jesus says, “… I do not give peace as the world does.” Rather, in Rom. 5:1, explains that, “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This peace is brought about by God. “He cancelled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross (Col. 2:14). So, the peace he will bring requires a reconciliation between God and man, and then between men. Thus, the Gospel brings peace for those who accept it, and did not bring peace for those who reject it. Jesus suffered a lot, and willing to undergo the baptism of fire, because the people were not comfortable with His message.

THE ORDEAL OF PROPHET JEREMIAH
The same suffering Jesus experienced in His missionary work, is the same suffering Jeremiah encountered from his people. They hated Jeremiah because he was telling them the truth.
Jeremiah started having his ordeals from the day he was called by God (Jer.1).
A) His ministry prompted plots against him (Jer. 11:21-23). They conspired to kill him, but God saved him, and told him that many ordeals are coming.
B) A priest Pashur had Jeremiah beaten.
C) Jeremiah wanted to stop speaking the Word of God, but the Word of God becomes like fire in his heart… (Jer. 20:8-9), etc.
Today, Jeremiah told them what God ordered him to say. ” Whoever stays in this city will die by sword, famine or plague, but whoever goes over to the Babylon will live… And this city will certainly be handed over to the army of the King of Babylon, who will capture it.” This message pained the officials of the King Zedekiah, which made Jeremiah to be put inside cistern or well. Since, God has said that, “Those who put their trust in the Lord will not be disappointed” ( 1Pt 2:6). God delivered Jeremiah through a truthful man called Ebed-Melech. Just like Susanna was saved by prophet Daniel. May God send to you those who have good hearts to deliver you when the enemies will surround you. Although, Jeremiah later, rewarded Ebed-Melech in Jer. 39:15-18.
The major problem Jeremiah encountered were his fellow prophets who were fake. To the extent one of the fake prophets “Hananiah” slapped Jeremiah to stop destroying their business by telling the king the truth.

SOME FALSE PROPHETS IN THE BIBLE
We have many false prophets in the Bible just as we have them now in our country Nigeria. Some of them are:
Hananiah (Jer 28), Simon Magnus (Acts 8), Elymas (Acts 13:6-12), Pashur (Jer 20:6), Zedekiah (Jer 22:21), 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah (1 Kgs. 18:19-20), etc.
The problems we are having today are: false prophets, false leaders, false teachers, false doctors, etc.
I wish we can imitate some qualities of Jeremiah here.

QUALITIES OF PROPHET JEREMIAH
Some of them are:
1) He was a gentleman in Jer. 11:19.
2)He was a courageous man in Jer 1:19, 18:18-20.
3)A man of faith in Jer 16.
4)He stood firm when he was threatened with death, mocked and imprisoned (Jer 26:8-9, 38:1-10).
5) He denounced sin and announced God’s judgment (1:16, 16:10-13), etc.

APPLICATION
Dearest, I wish to ask, do we still have people like Jeremiah in our time? Yes, but they are few. The Church and society are in trouble today because if you say the truth, they will attack you. We all are prophets in our various offices, or businesses, or vocations, or Schools, etc.
A good prophet has these qualities:
1) He preaches and strengthens his disciples.
2) His character is true, honest, faithful and holy.
3)A message that appeals not to the flesh but the spirit.
4) Prediction and fulfilment of prophecy.
5) Declaration of divine judgment when needed.
6) Willing to suffer for speaking the truth without saving self, etc.
My dearest, let us be faithful in what we tell people in God’s name. Many good families have been divided and destroyed today because of false prophets. Many rich people have become poor, because of false prophets. Jesus warned us in Matt 24, to be careful with the false prophets, but many do not want to listen. How do we know the false prophets?
1) They don’t speak the truth (1 KGS 22:28).
2) The are greedy in Jer 6:13.
3) They teach you about only prosperity ( Mic. 3:11).
4) They tell you what you want to hear, and not even about repentance, etc.

CONCLUSION
My dearest ministers, let us be humble to tell our people the truth. In Jn 8:32, Jesus says: “you will know the truth, and only the truth will set free.

May God, have mercy on us, and give all our true prophets the grace and courage to face the ordeals facing them; and save all of us from all dangers through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Happy Twentieth Sunday To You!
I Wish You The Best In This Week!

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