YEAR A: HOMILY FOR MONDAY OF THE 19TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: Fear the Lord your God and walk in his ways.
BY: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
HOMILY: READINGS: Deut. 10: 12-22, Ps. 147, Matt 17: 22-27
Often times, people speak of their rights and privileges and complain when they have not gotten them. We complain with every audacity and alacrity and to everybody and also get annoyed that our rights have been denied. In this case we are the wounded, the innocent and the trampled upon while the one who is to give us those demands are wrong, unjust and evil. We do not easily remember that we have a responsibility and duty to play before holding on to our rights and privileges. In the first reading today Moses spoke to the people of Israel by reminding them that they have a part to play in their relationship with God as his people. In life, it takes two to do many things well and not one sided. Israel has been enjoying divine favours and took it for granted that God owes them blessing and providence with protection and victory at wars over enemies. It has never occurred to them that they have a responsibility that the Lord expects of them. Even the covenant he made with them they found it difficult to keep their own part but each time expect their demands to be met by God.
Moses said to the people today: And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Beloved, it is important as children of God that we ask ourselves on daily basis what the Lord our God requires from us in each circumstance and place we find ourselves. As we travel and ask for journey mercy what does the Lord require from us in that journey? As we are sick and ask for healing, what does the Lord God require of us? As we are broke and ask for money, what does the Lord our God require from us in this predicament? As we enter into any difficulty what does the Lord our God require from us? In his inaugural speech John .F. Kennedy said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” Beloved, it is on this note that we take a cue from the response of Moses in his rhetorical question to Israel in the first reading: Fear the Lord your God with all your heart, walk in his ways, love him and serve him and then keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord.
Beloved, in our relationship with God he has some expectations from us and Moses said it is only the afore-mentioned. We cannot be qualified to be making demands on God when we do not truly and sincerely love him from our hearts. We cannot qualify to receive his blessings when we refuse vehemently and by will to walk in his ways; to behave like he expects as he lays down for us in his book of life (sacred scriptures and the tradition). The book of the psalm said: O blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways. You should not be blessed by the Lord when you do not walk by his ways. Even though he blesses you as you walk contrary to his ways that does not make it the order of things it is only by grace. The Lord demands the spiritual circumcision of the foreskin on our heart and be no longer stubborn (That is repentance and conversion).
Beloved, we must note that keeping his commandments and walking in his ways is for our own good as Moses said. When we do this it attracts the flow of mercy and blessing in our lives. By doing this we realize that He is God of gods, Lord of lords, the great and mighty and the terrible. He is the one who works wonders and strikes terror. We must learn to be just because he will be the one to give justice to the oppressed: the fatherless and the widow and orphan. Walking in his ways requires us to take care of the sojourner.
In obedience to the will and commands of the Lord, Jesus announced his joyful willingness to go through his passion allotted him by God in his holy will. The Son of Man is to be delivered in the hands of men and they will kill him… Part of doing the will of God is to avoid discrepancies, unnecessary quarrels, societal disorder and conflict among peoples and civil authorities. It means to be law abiding and good citizens. Jesus proved it by going beyond what is just and due to him to what he has to sacrifice for the good of his nation. He was not by law supposed to pay the toll together with Peter but to avoid squabbles; he neglected his right and gave it out for peace. There is no sacrifice made for peace that is too much. We must not often cling to what we call “our right” but ready to give them up at times for the sake of peace and progress of our families, our state, our nation and the rest of humanity. We can do that and do it for others and encourage them to do so as well; this was what Jesus did by paying for himself and for Peter.
We pray that the Lord will put in us obedience spirit and recognition of his commandments as top priorities in all that w e do. We pray that we may have the willing heart to keep his laws and decrees and walk in his ways in justice and peace and be ready to sacrifice whatever that obstructs peace in our homes and around us. May we learn to show justice to the poor, the destitute, the needy, the orphans and the widows and sojourners in our midst so that the Lord would in turn establish peace on our borders and strengthen the bars of our gates and give us our fill of finest wheat, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf