YEAR B: CATHOLIC HOMILY FOR THE 18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THEME: EITHER JESUS OR NOTHING; JESUS IS OUR ALL!
BY: Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara
HOMILY: (EX.16:2-4,12-15; EPH.4:17,20-24: JN.6:24-35)
The first reading is from the Book of Exodus and reflects the grumbling against God. There is never anything that satisfies people completely, neither the people in the Old Testament, the people in the New Testament nor the people of our own time. It is always the same arguments: We are in a bad situation and you, O God, do nothing! Is there really a God at all? Probably not. Most likely it is just people wanting to believe in crazy things that deceived us into believing that there is a God. We are better off with the goods of this world, rather than wanting something that isn’t even for sure.”
The second reading still emphasis that, Deceitful desires! Always we have desires. But not always do we look at our desires to see if they will lead us to God. Instead, we want our desires honored, whether they are good or deceitful.
It’s easy to be like the people who populate today’s readings. It is easy because the values of our culture often lock us into self-centered and self-absorbed concerns. The values of our culture imprison us with our own agendas. The values of our culture have little or no sense that the world isn’t about me but about all of us who are God’s children. We are always Oliver Twist. And one of the dangers of these cravings is that it is never satiable as the Latin people would say “amor habendi habendo crescit” the love of having increases by having.
This is why Jesus in the Gospel tells us that the remedy of faith is to work not for that which perishes but for that which endures to eternal life. And that which endures to eternal life are “the works of God.” And we achieve the works of God when our faith rests in the Son of God who loved us so much that He stretched His arms out on the cross and gave us Himself without reservation. To achieve the works of God is to follow Him whose life we share each time we receive the Eucharist. To achieve the works of God is to become Christ who is the Bread of Life.
My beloved, we are called today to eat the bread of life which manifests in the word and in the Eucharist. Our lives are also to be modified according to this body of Jesus. As St. Augustine would often end Mass by saying to his people: “Be what you eat.” As we receive the Eucharist today may we “be” that loving and caring presence of Christ in our world today. May we be motivated by a joyful gratitude for what we already have and by a constant concern for the needs and concerns of others.
So, my brothers and sisters, we are called into the life of sanctity and it is important we learn that when we pay too much attention to material things, we forfeit the spiritual meaning of life. Our relationship with God and, indeed with others must not be based solely on how much material things we are able to get from them. Illusory desires prevent us from appreciating God’s goodness. They leave us with spiritual aridity. Spiritual aridity is the root of all weaknesses. It is like a sickness that eats up the fabric of one’s organ. It leaves one with no immunity to fight back against the attack of the enemy. Rather, it exposes one to every kind of danger. Thus, to put on the new man means to protect and nourish our souls spiritually, especially, when our physical body is weak and suffers. Our lives are to be renewed and modelled after the heavenly bread that we eat. Let us follow Jesus with faith. Either Jesus or nothing. Jesus is our all.
God bless you!
Fr. Augustine Ikechukwu Opara