YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 21ST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: How do you respond to a true reprimand or correction?
BY: Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf
HOMILY: MARTYRDOM OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
READINGS: 1 Corinthians. 3: 7-13, Ps 90, Mark 6: 17-29
The Church today celebrates the martyrdom or the beheading of St John the Baptist. He was a martyr for the truth and for the work of God. He died while showing real love for the sinners so that they can repent and be saved but they ganged up and put him to death as their reciprocity to his love for their souls. He was the voice that was called to proclaim the truth and he died doing so. If the voice should be silent at the face of evil then it is not worthy to be the voice and should not cry in the wilderness. He was the one that was spoken about in the Benedictus as the little child who shall be called the prophet of God the Most high and who shall go before him making his ways known. He was true to his vocation till the last minute.
Beloved, the celebration of today challenges our conscience and Christian attitude to correction and true reprimand. No one lives as a perfect being and no one is impeccable and so it is not possible for anyone then to be incorrigible. At some times, we slack and do things wrongly due to our human imperfection. God uses the others as guardian angels and helpers to put us back to track. We cannot behave as if we know it all or as if we are always correct and too big to be reprimanded for wrongs or be corrected. The life of John the Baptist is a challenge to the voice of our African Politicians especially Nigeria with her military-type of democracy. In Africa, an opposition for the cause of truth is tagged an enemy and meant to be eliminated, framed up and jailed as political vendetta. The deposit and contents of people’s heart and mind determine the way they react to things. Wicked and jealous as well as timid and persecution-conscious persons would always be drastic in wicked reactions. Hearts without godly spirit and who lack shame and humility show their power in their evil deeds instead of hiding their faces and taking corrections. When people tell you of your fault, do you have the humility to accept or the true conscience to acknowledge and judge yourself guilty? Many times, we trivialize matters and excuse ourselves in such a manner as to make light our grievous offenses. Many live in habitual deadly sin and see nothing wrong with it and when confronted they feel insulted and offended as if the person has trespassed his boundaries. Herod was in serious condition of sin and perhaps was unable to liberate himself; God sent him a liberator and conscience cleanser and healer in the person of John. He knew John was for good and appreciated John’s ministry but the habitual sin has made great hole in him and buried him. The woman Phillip’s wife was a beneficiary of sinful condition and was enjoying the booty. She wanted its continuation and so the correction was a deep offense against her sinful instinct. This is typical of political beneficiaries of corruption and bad leaders; they will not accept anything to be wrong and would work for the continuation of such evil and inhuman regime or administration. Nigeria and indeed African politicians are engrossed in this habit of sycophancy and hypocrisy. Herodias was not ready to be helped and was not ready to overlook the helper as well but in her evil mind wants him dead. The worst is that she schooled her young daughter in this evil way and incorporated her in her crime leading her to same sin. This is how bad and corrupt politicians train their children.
Beloved, when you have opportunity to make a request even in prayer before God and favour from humans, what do you ask? Many ask wickedly and not for any good to be gained but what would put others into trouble. Some use the request-opportu
nity to avenge the deeds of others and even wound and maim the innocent like Phillip’s wife. Many house malice, animosity, envy, vengeance and wait for opportunity to unleash terror. What you ask for, does it do any good to you and to humanity? When the woman and the daughter asked for the head of John the Baptist and were given it, was their problems over and what did they do with the head of John the Baptist? Wicked people are sadists and rejoice at pains inflicted on others and laugh when others cry. Did the killing of John the Baptist kill the truth that he proclaimed? Many people even in prayer ask wickedly and request God’s punishment and anger to fall on others even those who never offended them. Why is it that humans in pride and arrogance refuse wise counsel, true reprimand and charitable correction? Many people face the fate of John the Baptist for the course of truth and for showing true love and charity towards sinners. Many get killed for just being good to others and for being truly outspoken on the right course. Others die for being patriotic. These are the John the Baptists of our time. No one who gives his life for God here on earth would lose it but shall gain it as John did.
Lord, do not allow pride and fear of people to make me wicked and stupid and refuse to change my opinion when right reason and truth call for it. Lord do not allow me to be ruled by what people say as against right reason and justice; may I listen to your spirit and not follow the spirit of the crowd as I worship you here on earth and live my life for you, Amen.
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf