YEAR A: HOMILY FOR TUESDAY OF THE 32ND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: ETERNAL REWARD
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: * Wis 2 : 23 – 3 : 9, Lk 17 : 7 – 10.
One major difference between a Catholic funeral and non Catholic funeral is the emphasis on praying for the diseased through the holy sacrifice of the mass. Non Catholics seem to be fixated at death – all prayers for the diseased are paused and spiritual attention shifts to the living. Declarations are made against untimely deaths upon the families of the dead and all worth not. I recently attended the funeral services of a colleague who belonged to no Church. Some two young boys were acting as ministers of no particular Church, no priesthood, no sacrifice of the mass, they had no liturgical vestments, no doctrine and no theology about death. O my God! I don’t know what is left except that when we gave our offerings it was clear to me that we were just supporting some two young men who had worked together as spiritual undertakers always available for people who had no Church to bury them.
The 1st reading of today from the book of Wisdom assures us that grace and mercy await the faithful who die in the Lord. The reward of the faithful is immortality and incorruption – They are at peace having been disciplined a little (purgation), 1 Cor 3 : 15, they will shine forth in glory. Yes, ‘The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God’. This verse is so popular at Catholic burials because it affirms the fact that death is not the end. Those who see it as such are called ‘foolish’ by the author of the book of Wisdom. Why should the whole process of prayer and spiritual intercession for the deceased seize at death? Nothing has really changed spiritually at one’s death. He /she is still alive spiritually only that he will be facing judgment. This judgment is not as finitive as many think, Heb 9 : 27. The diseased therefore still needs prayers. The whole process of salvation is about grace not simply individual merit. The prayers of the Church continues on behalf of the dead person and is joined to his /her individual merits to determine his /her fate.
Today’s gospel makes it clear that we are servants of God. Our energy, time and possessions are only gifts from God. We must spend them for His glory and honour. God cannot become our debtor no matter how faithfully we might serve him. Our devotion is not actually a service but a duty and privilege. We should therefore learn to be humble before God and not behave as if God owes us any reward for our righteousness. But the prayer of the Church remains : Let the good works we have done be sown for an eternal harvest. Let our bad works be covered under the mercy and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is why we must never fail to continue to pray for the faithful departed so that through the mercy of God they may rest in peace.
May God bless you today!