YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 14TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE (The knowledge of the revealed things).
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: * Zech 9 : 9 – 10, Rom 8 : 9 – 11, Matt 11 : 25 – 30.
‘Knowledge is power’, says Francis Bacon. Jesus says in today’s gospel : ‘Learn of me for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls’. Yes, unless the soul yields its rule to the spirit, a man cannot be spiritual. According to Watchman Nee : ‘Man worships God through the spirit (inner man) and not through the soul (outer man) – Jn 4 : 24. The spirit gives life, the flesh has nothing to offer, Jn 6 : 63. In prayer, our whole being ; spirit, soul and body must be involved, 1 Thess 5 : 23. Watchman Nee, in his book ‘Spiritual Man’, following this tripartite anthropology of St Paul outlines 3 kinds of believers ; 1. Fleshly believers, 2. Soulish believers and 3. Spiritual believers.
In Christ’s magna carta of sins, he outlined 4 cardinal vices under which many other sins, faults and crimes develope;
1.LUST ; Fornication, adultery and all forms of indecency multiply from here.
2. ANGER ; Murder, malice, envy and other sins of hatred develope from here.
3. PRIDE ; Greed, slander, arrogance and all forms of obesity of the mind develope here.
4. VANITY ; Theft, deceit, folly and all forms of materialism grow from here.
With the 2 cardinal virtues mentioned in today’s gospel, all the above mentioned vices are simply put under check ;
1. GENTILITY ; Love, joy, goodness, patience, kindness, self control are virtues that calm the individual’s passions down.
2. HUMILITY ; Trustfulness, and peace are special divine attributes make a believer resemble Christ. That is why he said : ‘Learn of me, for I am gentle and humble of heart’.
‘After man’s regeneration’, according to Watchman Nee, ‘the Holy Spirit rules his spirit, causing his spirit to govern his soul, then through the soul, to rule over his body’.
All temptations attack the soul through the following natural requirements of the body ;
1. Nourishment / Food ; Greed, vanity, drunkenness, etc. But the spirit teaches the Spiritual Man that ‘man does not live by bread alone but by the Word of God’, Matt 4 : 4.
2. Procreation / Influence ; Lust, infidelity,etc. But the spirit teaches the Spiritual Man to marry or exercise self control, 1 Cor 7 : 8.
3. Defense / Power ; Pride, anger, etc . But the spirit teaches the Spiritual Man even when you are angry not to sin or you give the devil an opportunity, Eph 4 : 24 – 30.
* Just imagine how much the devil rejoices when it hits the headlines of our newspapers that a priest in anger shoots another priest. Or that a group of priests from a diocese reject the bishop appointed by the Pope for them. Or that a bishop abused a minor sexually 30 years ago.
In the 1st reading of today, the Prophet Zechariah announces the coming of the messianic era as an era of the reign of peace : ‘Your King is approaching, humble and riding on a donkey… the bow of war will be banished. He will proclaim peace to the nations’. Yes, while some other religions like Islam produce ‘men of the bow’ like their ancestors Ishmael and Esau, Gen 21 : 20, Christianity produces men of peace like Jacob, Joseph and Jesus.
C. SPIRITUAL KNOWLEDGE
Back to where we started, the 2nd reading emphasizes the growth in our spiritual knowledge : Your interests should be in spiritual matters. You should live not by your natural inclinations, but by the spirit.. So that the Spirit that raised Jesus Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies.
Modern day Christianity is guilty of a major paradigm shift from spirituality to materialism and Pentecostalism as a school of thought must be blamed for this magnificient error. Spiritual energy has been pushed from revival to crusades and from holiness retreat preaching to prosperity preaching. The result is collosal ; It is affecting our economy, our morality and even our political integrity as one nation. Sooner than later, there will be more pastors, preachers and prayer contractors than scientists, farmers and business investors. Yet, the more the preaching, the more the corruption because the preachers have no knowledge of spirituality but only a theoretical knowledge of the Bible. When priests and pastors fight, steal, womanize and antagonize themselves, a country is set for war, anarchy and doom because ‘the corruption of the best is the worst evil’.
We need a spiritual revival that will restore the life of holiness in the house of God. We need to get back to those days when men of God knew the ways of God and taught people how to live it by their words and actions. Like St Francis of Assisi told his followers : ‘Preach the gospel always and use words sometimes’. God has hidden the secret of spirituality to the learned and proud but revealed it to his followers : the way of gentility and humility. Happy Sunday dear friends!
Ben Agbo (Rev Fr).