HOMILY THEME: Oh that You had Listened to God’s Commandments.

BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu 


“O that you had hearkened to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river, and your righteousness like the waves of the sea.” Isaiah 48:18.

Imagine this scenario: you are travelling to abroad, you get to a very busy international airport and you have only a few minutes to catch a connecting flight. You know fully well that missing this connecting flight will cost you both time and a lot of money. At this point, you realize you will have to run and not mind the weight of your carry-on luggage. All of a sudden, you realize the value of signs, instructions and commands. Even if it is a small child saying: “Go this way” or “No, follow here” you don’t even argue, you simply say “Thank you” and obey.

Whenever we find ourselves having serious difficulties with following instructions, it is always because we do not appreciate the value of what we stand to gain or benefit from such instructions. Our first reading this morning contains a cry from God not only to the people of Israel but to us as well. “Oh, that you had listened to my commandments! Then your peace would have been like a river…”

Are you one of those who belongs to the school of thought that says keeping God’s commandments is difficult? Why do you consider God’s commandments to be difficult? What is difficult about saying the truth for instance? Or keeping yourself from immoral thoughts and actions? What is difficult in being satisfied with what is yours and refusing to steal? Or with giving honour to our parents?

The simple answer to all these questions is that we do not believe there are any benefits from keeping God’s commandments. We feel we can always get what we want or that happiness would come to us through disobedience. We desire peace, prosperity and fame but we do not trust God enough to believe that these things would come to us by keeping God’s commandments. We want the good things of life yet we do not want to just follow God who is truly the source of all goodness.

It is as though we do not even know what we want. We are like the children Jesus was talking about in today’s Gospel passage. God wants our good yet whatever God does to get our attention, we turn it away. John the Baptist came, he was neither eating nor drinking and people said he was not normal. Jesus freely ate and drank even in public, but the people called him a friend of sinners. It is so easy for us to criticise and condemn those we have chosen not to listen to.

As the saying goes: “you will always have an excuse for not doing what you DON’T want to do.” If you don’t want to keep God’s commandments, you will surely have an excuse, a complaint, a story to tell and so on. However, as long as you know the value of keeping God’s commandments, no excuse will be enough to keep you from keeping them to the last letter.

God desires our happiness even more than we do. Christmas is a clear proof that God would stop at nothing to ensure our happiness. We just need to trust God and believe that in the seemingly “difficult” commandments lies the key to our everlasting joy. Remember that this so- called difficulty is just a matter of attitude. Whatever you put your heart to accomplish becomes easier and easier so long as you remained determined.

When we read the life of the Saints, we learn one big lesson; that humans like us lived in this earth and without any extraordinary powers were able to follow God closely keeping His commandments. If the Saints could, who says you can’t? Today, we remember one great Saint, John of the Cross, a priest and doctor of the Church who together with St. Theresa of Avila brought about the reformation of the Carmelite Order. He suffered a lot of persecution even from his fellow clergy but came out a great mystic theologian and spiritual director. The books he wrote on the spiritual life earned him the title of doctor of the church.

According to St. John of the Cross, only God is capable of giving us happiness and joy in life. This is just in line with today’s first reading. In fact, St. John goes further to add that anyone who seeks happiness in worldly things is like “a famished person who opens his mouth to satisfy himself with air.”

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, deepen my trust in keeping your commandments. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Friday of the 2nd Week of Advent. Bible Study: Isaiah 48:17-19, Psalm 1:1-6 and Matthew 11:16-19)

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