YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THE 25TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: LET THE WICKED FORSAKE HIS WAY
BY: Rev.Fr. Peter Ekwebelem
HOMILY: The voice of God is heard in today’s first reading saying “Let the wicked forsake his way”, God’s voice insists that all should seek Him while he is still near. Another contextual name for the wicked is the sinner. You can see many cautions and warnings to the wicked run through the bible from Genesis to Revelation. In the book of Genesis, God saw the cruelty and wickedness of man, and regretted that He created man, but God was pleased with a man called Noah (Gen.6:6-8).
Around every just man or virtuous group of people, there must be the wicked within. The wicked has always been there, either in the family, community, nation or even the church. The work of the wicked is to oppose God and oppress the people of God. They serve as hindrance to peace and terror to love. The just is like a light, whereas the wicked is like darkness. Noah was a just man, but the majority of his people were wicked. Abel was a virtuous man, then he had a wicked brother called Cain. Pharaoh was the immediate terror that came the way of Moses. Elijah has threat called Jezebel. Amidst the sinful Sodom and Gomorah, Abraham’s righteousness shone like the sun. Saul was a thorn in the flesh of David. Herod was a nightmare to John the Baptist. Joseph had a good heart, but his brothers were heartless and inhuman. Things changed a little bit for Samson, when he encountered Delilah. With this now you can now visualize in your heart to know the wicked around you, or are you the wicked around somebody or the wicked in somebody’s life?
Wickedness is as old as man. If there be absence of the wicked or absence of wickedness in our world, the world will be a better place. The ways of the wicked are bad and that’s why God lamented today, let the wicked forsake his evil ways, if not, their doom is coming. When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people groan (Prov 29:2). Have you not heard or seen people celebrate at the expulsion, execution or death of a well known wicked man? The whole world received the good news of the death of Adolf Hitler with joy and relief on 30th April 1945, some headlines had it this way, “THE MOST WICKED HITLER, TOOK HIS LIFE AT LAST”, “THE HUNTER HITLER NOW HUNTED”, “HITLER IS DEAD,LIFE IS BACK AGAIN”,ETC. Joseph was very happy when the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said “Herod is dead, get up,take the child and his mother and go back to the land of Israel,because those who tried to kill the Child Jesus is dead” (Matt.2:19-21).At the shameful death of Idi Amin of Uganda on 16th August 2003, there was a tremendous joy round the world especially in the African globe and Uganda. At the death of Sani Abacha on 8th June 1998, it was a good and great news to more than ninety percent of Nigerians. The execution of Anini Lawrence, a renown criminal and terrorist on 29th march 1987 came with a big celebration by the people, after which there was a restoration of peace of mind in the society. Imagine what the world or their time would have been like, if the above mentioned wicked figures: used their power to fight evil instead of doing and supporting evil, used their position to promote peace instead of causing war, used their office to change life for good instead of wasting and frustrating lives for their selfish purposes. So God in the first reading is talking to all the Herods, Abachas, Idi Amins, Aninis, Hitler’s, etc of our present day , wherever they might be found, families, communities, religions, churches, nations, etc, to use their power and position for good, to abandon their wicked ways and come back to God. The bible said it clearly, no peace for the wicked (Is.48:22).
If the wicked willingly and positively reverse his bad attitude, God and man will be happy. Laws are made to regulate the wicked. Crime and inhuman acts are rising everyday in the society and church because of the wicked. When a wicked man called Zacchaeus abandoned his sinful and wicked ways, the community felt the peace. When another known persecutor called Saul gave up his wicked ways and embraced Christ , there was a positive change in his life and even lives of many Brethren. Any life that thwarts love, and discomfort the people of good will is wickedness.
Here is the good news for the wicked, God still loves the wicked but hates wickedness. God still loves the sinner but hates sins. God still loves the evil man but hates evil. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live? (Ez.18:23).
Can the wicked still be found worthy in the presence of God? Yes is the answer. The responsorial psalm of today says that the Lord is close to all who call him. To call the Lord is to live in Christ, just as the second reading stated. Graciously and surprisingly, it is the Lord himself, Jesus Christ, the word made flesh, who goes around in today’s gospel calling all those standing idle along the street of iniquity to come and work in his farm of love and vineyard of righteousness. No time is too late for this conversion until it is too late. Some were called in the morning hours of their life, that is, as a child or lad, and they responded to God’s calling and were faithful to the end, these are people like Samuel, Timothy, Simeon, Anna , John the Baptist, Daniel, David, etc. At the end, their reward was the crown of salvation, the kingdom of God.
Some people were called at the afternoon time of their life, that is those at almost the middle of their life time like the disciples, Paul, Mary Magdalene, Zacchaus, etc, at the end, their reward was that same crown of salvation, that is heaven.
Some others were called to work in this farm of love and vineyard of righteousness at almost the end of their time when there is just little moment left, and were given the same crown of salvation, an example is the repentant sinner on the cross. Some incidentally sought for second and last chance, but by then it has become late, such people are like the foolish rich man that dealt with Lazarus. Are you the wicked of today? abandon your evil ways and come to God. He will forgive and renew you.
“Come let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces, but he will heal us, he has struck us down, but he will bind up our wounds. He will revive us after two days;on the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his presence. Let us try to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:1-3).