YEAR A: HOMILY FOR FRIDAY OF THE 18TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: God has a special place for you in his heart; just obey his commands.
BY: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
HOMILY: READINGS: Deut. 4: 32-40, Ps. 77, Matthew 16: 24-28
God in his own mysterious ways makes choice in love and sustains his love for his chosen one(s). He lavishes love and care on such choice(s) such that all who sees what he does for his chosen and even the one he has chosen gets marvelled at the manner He treats him/her. He gives special attention and unprecedented tenderness and compassion to his chosen. The case of the people of Israel and God is a clear evidence of the lavish and special love of God on the chosen. The first reading calls for sober reflection and even comparison with others since creation began whether any has recorded such inexhaustible and unquantifiable love. Has anybody ever had the type of love that we have witnessed from God from creation? He asked Israel whether any God has spoken to his people from the fire and heard the voice of God and lived? God reminds Israel to think of how he moved them out of their nation and from where they were under bondage and made them independent and a free people who settled on the Promised Land. Can Israel easily forget all the signs, trials and wonders including wars that the Lord fought for them and gave them victory? Is Israel not having the memory of their trials in the land of Egypt and the miraculous escape he granted them? Is the miracle of the Red Sea an event that can escape their memory any time any day? God drove out strong nations mightier than they were and displaced them in favour of Israel.
Beloved, this love of God for the people of old did not end with them but extended to us all today. Many of us cannot count the blessings we have received from God. We marvel at times at the wonderful works of God in our lives and families than what is applicable in many people’s life and their families. The miracles that many of us have experienced in life are immense and tremendous as well as surprising till today. Are we to forget them? For many of us the case of Israel is not more than ours. As a nation (Nigeria) we have experienced wonders of God’s love especially when and many times war and destruction were imminent and unavoidably sure yet God made them pass us by. Can we remember the political war drums and the electioneering imminent wars that made people flee from where they resided to their places of birth in fear that war was surely to start? This God of ours has no equal or comparison in love and care. We have more favours than the people of old.
Beloved, God was reminding Israel these acts of love he showed them so that they will know that they have no reason not to be thankful to him or obey his commands. God then orders Israel to obey his commandments which he has given so that it may go well with them. The keeping of the commandments of the Lord is for the good of the people; a further way of showing love for the people. Obeying him would give them long life in the land of promise and preserve their descendants as well. This commandment to them is similar to the fourth commandment which urges children to honour their parents so that their days would be long.
Beloved, the command to keep the commandments of the Lord is also required in the demand of Jesus from his followers in today’s gospel. Jesus asks his followers to sacrifice themselves for him even their lives so that they would be saved on the last day. And for anyone who wants to save it by avoiding following his commandments, surely would lose his life on the last day. It is important for us to know and remember the promises of the Lord in our lives and many wonders and signs he has worked in our lives to keep us alive. These would make us know that we have special place in the heart of God. When we reflect over it and count our blessings, we would come to believe his utterance that he has counted the hairs of our head and would not allow anyone to be removed without his knowledge. It is then to be believed that he has carved us in his palms; and that we worth more than thousands of sparrows.
May we live to remember the deeds of the Lord and render him unalloyed thanks and worship. We shall live to muse on the wonders of the Lord and ponder his mighty works as we ask that his mighty arms would redeem us always from every troubles of this life. I pray that fear would not erode faith in us so as not to believe that even the present troubles we face as a nation: Boko Haram, Killer-Fulani herdsmen, economic disaster and hunger, bad political policies and bad will, Kidnapping and religious bigotry shall through the same love of God become things of the past if we live in obedience to his commandments, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf