HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C (2)







HOMILY FOR THE 23RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

THEME: THE COST OF FOLLOWING CHRIST.

BY: Rev. Fr. Edward Onwueme.

HOMILY FOR SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 4 2022

 

1st Rd. Wisdom 9:13-18b.
2nd Rd. Philemon 9b-10.12-17.
Gospel Of St. Luke 14:25-33.

INTRODUCTION
One of the Igbo proverbs says, “Onye na eje-ogu ga adi nkwadebe igba mgba”. Jesus has made it clear in today’s Gospel, especially, in Lk 14:27, “Whoever does not carry his OWN cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.” There is no man on earth who has no cross. Your own cross may be, your human weakness, parents, siblings, husband, wife, poverty, sickness, illiteracy, etc. The issue is before one is born, God has already assigned a cross for the person. Try to carry your Own cross with joy and follow Christ, because, “Mmiri madu kwosara onwe ya na ahu adighi atu ya oyi.”

Jesus saw the crowds following him. Having known their minds, because many of them, their intentions were not pure. As Jeremiah 17:9-10, says: “Who can understand the human heart? There is nothing else so deceitful like human heart, it is too sick to be healed. I, the Lord, search the minds and text the hearts of men.” This God’s word, was understood in Lk. 9:46-48. When the disciples were thinking who was the greatest. Vs.47 says, “Jesus knew what they were thinking…” Jesus gave the crowds the cost of following him, which includes, loving God more than your family members, and carry your own cross and follow Me. When Jesus said this, many of the false disciples ran away, as it happened also between Jesus and the three groups of people that wanted to follow Jesus in (Matt. 8:18-22).

NO CROSS, NO CROWN
Many us hate cross with passion, because, no person wants to suffer. You want to be a graduate without studying hard to pass your examinations. To become a priest without going to the seminary. To become the parish priest without serving as the assistant priest. To have money without working for it, etc. The Igbo says, “Onye na amaghi Ihe na elu ilu, agaghi ama ihe na ato uto.” There is no good thing comes without the cross. According to Martin Luther, “Christians are cross bearers.” We Catholics put on crosses, hang some on our cars, offices, houses, etc, to remind ourselves the cost of following Christ. The point is, let your own cross correspond with the cross of Jesus Christ.
Many people don’t understand the spiritual meaning of the cross. That is why many are running away from the cross. Perhaps, the word, “Cross” is from the Greek word, “Stauros”. A Pole or cross, as an instrument of capital punishment; figuratively exposure to death, that is, ” Self Denial”, by implication, the atonement of Christ.

THREE TYPES OF CROSS
1) Human Cross: This is the cross we give to ourselves through our own mistakes, or our fellow human beings give to us. Eg. False accusations, stealing, killing, etc.
2) Satanic cross: We receive this cross when we are in the state of sin, ROM. 6:21-23. Eg. Guilty Conscience.
3) Divine Cross: This is the one Jesus wants us to carry. In Matt 11:29, He says, ” Take my yoke and put it on you…” So, Self Denial is the correct meaning of the Cross in the gospel of today, Jesus wants us to carry.

WHAT IS MEANT BY THE CROSS?
1) The cross includes loss and damage.
2) It speaks shame and reproach.
3) It imports pain, torture and death itself (The worst death).
Another question is, what it is to bear the cross?
1) You must make an account of your own cross.
2) A resolution to carry it.
3) You must be always ready to carry the cross (Sirach 2:1)
4) You must bear the cross of Jesus patiently, cheerfully and fruitfully, etc.

Try to see that you are not carrying the human or satanic cross, but the cross of Jesus. St. Peter urges us, “If any of you suffer, it must not be because he is a murderer or a thief… But you suffer because you are a Christian, don’t be ashamed of it, (1 Pt. 4:15-16), but rejoice for your reward is in heaven (Matt 5:10-12).

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE DIVINE CROSS
1) Your children (Ps. 127:3), try to train and care for them well.
2) As a student, you have to study hard for you to be promoted.
3) Marriage is a cross between the husband, wife and children (Gen 2:18-24).
4) Priestly celibacy, poverty, and obedience are the crosses Jesus gives to his priests, (Matt 19:10-12; Lk 5:1-11)
5) Human labor is another cross Christ gives to everyone in 2 Thel. 3:10 and Gen. 1:28, etc.

THINGS WE NEED TO DENY OURSELVES
1) We ought to deny ourselves sins (Isaiah 59:1-2, Rom 6).
2) Deny ourselves some comforts, by sharing our wealth with the poor (Lk 16 & Matt 19:16-29)
3) It will cost our self righteousness. We must accept that we are sinners (Lk 18:9-13, 1 Jn 1:8-10).
4) It will cost us the worldly favour, by receiving insults, persecution, lies for Christ’s sake (Jn 16:1-4, Matt 5:10-12).
St Paul had many reasons to receive worldly favour, but for the Sake of Christ, in the second reading, he was mocked, ridiculed, slandered, hated, persecuted and put in the prison. Paul did not give up in his suffering, but he used it to convert Onesimus. He was nobody before, but after the conversion, Onesimus became a useful human being. That is why Paul says in (2 Tim 2:9), “Because I preach the Good News, I suffer and can even chained like a criminal, but the Word of God is not chained.”

APPLICATION
Many of us always give God excuses with our crosses just as Adam did (Gen 3:12). If you ask someone whom God has answered his or her prayer, why you did come to Mass, or Benediction, or Bible Studies, or even choir practice? He or she will reply, it is because of my school. I was busy cooking for my children and husband. I came back late from my work, etc. Has God made a mistake by answering your prayers, by giving you children, husband, good job, admission, etc? The massage today is carry all these crosses and follow Jesus. In Mark 8:35, Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save his own life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will save it.” And says in Matt 6:32-33, “Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. Instead, seek first, the kingdom of God and its righteousness, and every other thing will be added unto you.”

CONCLUSION
Child of God, bear it in mind that, there is no way we will run away from the cross. Always ask God to give you the grace to receive crown after carrying cross.

May God give us the grace to carry our crosses daily with joy and patience. May our crosses bring us the crown of glory at last, so that our sufferings will not be in vain, through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Happy Twenty Third Sunday!
I Wish You Divine Favour!

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