YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: Your attitude would determine your knowledge and relationship with God.
BY: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
HOMILY: READINGS: Isaiah 22: 19-23, Ps. 138, Romans 11: 33-36, Matthew 16: 13-20
God created man in his image and likeness and this is supposed be the director of the life of humans in cooperation with God. Man is supposed to know God well and better. The catechism said that God created us to know Him, love and worship Him in this world so as to live with Him in the next world. This is the presumption and taken for granted from our creation. Unfortunately disobedience has made it impossible that man may know God well as he is supposed. Sin has blinded man from loving God as we ought and so we are not able to worship him sincerely in this world thus making our end in him doubtful.
Beloved, man often lives in arrogance and pride especially when blessed by God with riches, wealth and power. When man assumes a high place and can do many things at his beck and call, he begins to feel he is almighty and start exhibiting insensibilities to the things of the spirit and of God. The first reading today makes us know how God feels when we misuse our God’s given opportunities. God is always disappointed with people who think that it is their might and connection that placed them well in the society. We must remember the Magnificat that God exalts the lowly (humble) and puts down the proud hearted in the conceit of their heart. He said it clearly at the parable about when we are invited to a place of honour. He said that those who exalt themselves would be humiliated while those who humble themselves would be exalted. Humility of life in recognition of the fact that everything we have and are come from God pays off very well in the face of God. Pride and arrogance are self destructive vices in man and should be avoided and rejected.
Beloved, in the first reading God threw the weight of his anger on Shebna and decided to bring him down from his exalted position and replace him with a humbler person Eliakim. He promised to remove all the surrounding and abounding graces of his office and clothe it with Eliakim and make his office firm as the foundation that no one can close any door he opened or open the one he has closed. God’s ever presence and support shall be upon him. Shebna did not recognise the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God as St Paul tells us in the second reading. He took God for granted and showed no good knowledge of who God is. He did not know that unsearchable and inscrutable are his judgment and ways. No one knows the mind of God or can instruct him but that he does whatever he wills. This is what Shebna in the pride of his heart and deceit did not know. This is what happens to the proud and arrogant who does not know the Lord and his ways. Many of us do not know the Lord and we think he is what people say because we have no personal knowledge and encounter with him. These are like the rest of the apostles who repeat what others said and have no personal conviction. Simon toed a different line because he was a man who searched to know his master in his personal way. He was bold to answer what he knows and believes Jesus is. He is the Christ, the Son of the living God. We do not know God well by flesh and blood but by the inner life of reflection in the Spirit. This good knowledge Simon had about Jesus merited him a change of name and relationship with God; he is now called Rock or Peter (Petrus). Jesus gave him the special privilege of becoming the foundation of the faith he professed. The keys (power of governance and authority) were handed over to him for the body of Christ. He was like Eliakim promised divine protection and to be unrivalled by any earthly powers.
He was also privileged to have the power to bind and to lose. This is what sincerity and humility fetched him; the same blessing that Eliakim was given in the first reading. How much do you know God and how much do you desire to humble yourself to search for his riches and wisdom?
Let us pray that we would not live our lives in such a manner as to lose the blessings and positions that God has allotted us and shelve it for another; may he never discard us who are the works of his hands. May arrogance and pride never fill our hearts to the extent of making us blind not to know our Lord and God. God help us to know you through and through and then gain the blessings that go with it, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf