YEAR A: HOMILY FOR FRIDAY OF THE 23RD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: The grace of God makes me to see my imperfection before I can be a minister.
BY: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
HOMILY: ST JOHN CHRYSOSTOM
READINGS: 1 Timothy 1: 1-2, 12-14, Ps. 16, Luke 6: 39-42
Grace is the power of God at work in man which is freely given by God to direct our lives to the divine plan. God in his love for man knows how very weak we are and our sinful nature that we got after the fall of man and so he does not allow us unaided but comes to assist man with supernatural power to help man know what is good and bad, reject sin and act in accordance with the will of God for man. It means that man does not act by his humanness alone at all times but at difficult moments of temptations and challenging times, God steps in to help man do what his ordinary human nature cannot do. When he does this, man becomes transformed and then becomes an instrument of God or his minister. Typical of this is his activity in the life of Paul when he spoke out saying: God, I have asked you many times to remove this illness and you responded that your grace is enough for me and that your power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor. 12: 9). Paul here realizes that man has a limit to what he can do and so looks up on the grace of God which he does not refuse man and in sufficient manner. This is why man cannot boast of anything good he has done but must give credit and glory to God. Little wonder St Anthony Mary Claret said that anything good he does he gives thanks to God and to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Beloved, St Paul in today’s first reading remembers that he was a sinner and imperfect being who was a destroyer of faith till the grace of God met him and brought him out of it. He said: It is the grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord that made him. I thank him who has given me strength for this, he said. God put in him the inner power (GRACE- Gift radiating from above, cancelling evil) that made him to see clearly how badly he stands before God and to accept transformation to become a new creature. By his cooperation with this grace of God, he was made worthy of being called to be a minister of goodness and to humanity. It is after the release of his grace upon Paul and which actually sanctified him that he became qualified and chosen as a useful and veritable instrument in the hand of God as his minister. Before then he was not qualified. It is God’s grace that judges us worthy to become God’s minister and a servant of his mystery.
Beloved, ignorance leads man to act foolishly and wrongly. At the moment of the reign of ignorance, the individual is internally deceived that he has knowledge and that what he is doing is right. He can even boast in it and make trouble while being ruled by ignorance. But true to the ignorant person is that whatever he does in that stae is correct and the only option available to him. His sense of judgment ends with what he knows and that is pitiful. It is because of this that the grace of God comes as an enabler to rescue man from the clutches of ignorance and wrong knowledge. This is why prophet Hosea lamented that my people are dying for lack of knowledge. This happens daily in our human and even religious society. You can only act with the given in you and according to the veracity and level of knowledge or ignorance in you. The worst experience of a painful type is to be dealing with an ignorant person who is arrogant and proud believing that he knows.
Beloved, it is this scenario that Jesus tried to paint and condemn in the gospel of today in hypothetical proverbial terms: Can a blind man lead another blind man? Obviously both will fall into the pit of hell. This is the situation of democratic governance in Africa especially in Nigeria and culminated in the acts of the three arms of Government especially with the Judiciary. Ours is worst because even the knowledgeable allow selfishness and corruption to make them eternally blind to the truth yet they are the ones leading even the well in sight as well as the many blind. You can actually see the pit we are in democratically and by governance at all levels and sections even in the Churches. In our predicaments and even our work place and families, the disciples ignorantly profess knowledge than their masters. We are fond of pointing accusing fingers at people and dictating faults that are all from others save ourselves. Everybody is always wrong and getting it badly except ourselves. We are ruled by ignorance at all levels which blinds us and yet we claim to see well and criticize what others are doing. This is the highest point of hypocrisy that we witness daily among humans at all levels and organisations.
I pray that God may not allow us at each time to live without his grace so as to eradicate our high level of ignorance which has made us blind. I pray that God would remove selfishness and impunity in corruption which is the worst blindness that destroys the human society. It is my prayer that the reign of mediocrity would give way to knowledgeable and right people who would take up our governance and put the round peg into the round hole. I ask God to give us counsel and direct our hearts so that we may keep the Lord ever before us. May the Lord aid us to attend to ourselves first as well as to first fix ourselves well in order to help others, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf