YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 28TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: JUSTIFIED BY FAITH
BY: Rev. Fr. Jacob Aondover ATSU
HOMILY: MEMORIAL OF SAINT IGNATIUS OF ANTIOCH BISHOP AND MARTYR
READINGS: ROMANS 3:21-30, PSALM 130, LUKE 11:47-54
Can frail man truly and faithfully abide by the dictates of the Law? Sincerely, I don’t think so. What becomes of him then as he breaks the law everyday; what is his plight based on the demands of law? Punishment? Would he then survive? The word of God spells out the plight of lawbreakers. Leviticus 26:14-16ff has this to say: “The Lord said, if you will not obey my commands, you will be punished. If you refuse to obey my laws and commands, and break the covenant I have made with you, I will punish you and bring disaster on you – incurable diseases…” And God further posits in Deuteronomy 28:15: “But if you disobey the Lord your God and do not faithfully keep all his commands and laws… evil things will happen to you”. Now the question that begs to be answered is: ‘What chance do we stand should live according to the law?
The opportunity afforded us by Christ to live in him through faith hence be saved from the clutches of the law is life saving! Faith helps us sail through the rigours and demands of the law which obviously, we cannot faithfully keep. If God were to exert his justice on us based on the law, hardly would any man be saved, I make bold to say that. And if we were to gain salvation by our deeds or works; I think we’d have been damned too. We find ourselves sinning everyday even when we don’t want to; God aware of this undeservedly justifies us by faith in his Son Jesus Christ. His bloodshed on Calvary becomes an expiation for all who believe him. What are we waiting for? Why not seize the moment today and now, believe in God whose salvation is extended to all men regardless of race or colour.
None us can feign ignorance of the fact that God has made known his salvation and shown his deliverance to the nations (Ps. 98:2). In fact, Paul would say in Romans 3:21; “But now the righteousness of God has been disclosed…” through Jesus whom God sent to the world out of love that whoever believes in him should not perish but be saved (Jn. 3:16). He came as Emmanuel to dwell with us and woo us to God. He came as our Good Shepherd (Jn. 10:11) to protect us from the pangs of sin and the peril of the law. By doing this he ensures that none of us is lost (Jn.17:12) so he could hand us over to the Father on the day of the Lord. He came as our Way, our Life and our Truth (Jn. 14:6) so that believing in him we may possess life, be privileged to know the Truth that saves and so trade safely on the Way to salvation.
Left on our own to battle with keeping the law, working to earn salvation and meriting it; we’d be like the Pharisees and lawyers condemned by Christ today. For we constantly tilt towards evil and vice; but for God’s grace, damnation and annihilation would be our lot. Today therefore, we pray in thanksgiving to God for gratuitously gifting us his Son and calling us to faith in him. We pray he graces us with the disposition to believe in God come what may and earn ourselves a spot in eternity.
The bishop martyr, Ignatius of Antioch, a zealous convert and disciple of John the Evangelist once said “A Christian does not live for himself alone. He belongs to God!” and in response to Emperor Trajan’s derogatory statement about him he posited: “Call me not a poor wretch, for I bear God within me”. This symbol of hope, courage and an unwavering faith in God never showed any sign of fear in the various persecutions (Domitian and Trajan) that raged during his reign. This attracted him death at the claws of two ferocious lions, a death he embraced with joy and total submission. To those desirous of scheming his release he said; “I am the wheat of the Lord and must be ground by the teeth of wild beasts to become pure bread of the Lord Jesus Christ”. How I love this saint of God. How I wish I had his kind of courage.
So true my dear friends is the fact that our contemporary society is sadly crippled by the evils perpetuated by those who are religious but never spiritual; those who only appear to be good but are as wicked as the name wicked. Truest is the fact that if all those who claimed to be followers of Christ were Christian enough, living out the gospel values and seeing a neighbour in those around them, the world would have a perfect habitation for us all. Today therefore is a call to follow the lead of Christ for whom Ignatius died. Today is indeed a call to courage, faith, and burning love for Christ who in the end will save us from the pangs of death.
FEED AND EDUCATE ONE…