YEAR B: HOMILY FOR FRIDAY OF THE 22ND WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: Do not Pronounce Judgement Before the Time.
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
_“It is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted.” *(1 Corinthians 4:3-4)*_
I guess you may have heard the story of a small girl who was holding two apples in her hands and her mother asked for one. To her mother’s surprise, the little girl held one of the apples and bit it. She chewed it with delight, then waited for a while, took the second apple and bit it also. The mother felt embarrassed by her behaviour. Then after a while, she held one of the apples to her mum and with the purest innocence any child could muster said: “Mummy, take this one, it is sweeter than the other one.”
It is in our human nature to judge people whether good or bad. Most times, our judgment is based on what we can see or what we think we know about them or based on what we ourselves do. St. Paul is teaching us this morning not to be too quick to pass judgment because only God has the capacity to “bring to light the things now hidden in darkness…” St. Paul’s words are part of his response to the division in the Corinthian Church between those who were for Apollos and those for him.
To those who were in the side of Paul, Paul was indirectly saying: “who are you to declare me a saint?” and those who were against Paul, he was saying: “even though I am not aware of anything against myself (my conscience is clean), I am not thereby acquitted.” Paul’s overall intention here was to break division, to make the people refrain from taking sides and realize that both Paul and Apollos are imperfect, yet powerful, instruments in the hands of God.
I admire the fact that in all of this, Paul made no single negative statement about Apollos who had been made a rival to him by the people. This is a lesson we must learn. There are some of us who take over certain offices/appointments/posts and the first thing we do to win the people’s love is to start condemning the person who handed over to us. This is very bad! We end up winning the love of those who hated the former person and incurring the hatred of those who loved him/her. In this way, we become agents of division rather than cohesion.
Coming down to our Gospel passage, we see how Jesus and his disciples became victims of pre-mature judgment by the scribes and the Pharisees. These Scribes and Pharisees as we saw in our Gospel passage on Sunday were hypocrites; in the habit of displaying public piety to win the admiration of people while their hearts were far from God. (packaging). They had reduced religion to religion-ism and the worship of God to the worship of the self. They were no longer trying to find out how God thinks of what they do but were solely concerned with how people think. All these became an old wineskin capable of taking in only old wine.
Jesus came with fresh wine. He wanted to return people to the true worship of God which is neither on this mountain nor on that mountain but a worship in spirit and truth. Jesus was disgusted with public piety and wanted true inner piety; a piety that required going into your room, shutting the door to pray that your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you in secret; a piety that meant even while fasting, you don’t carry long faces but rub oil and shine. This was truly a new wine and it could not enter the old wineskins of the religious leaders of the day.
In other words, even if Jesus and his disciples were actually fasting, they were not showing it. Again, the whole essence of fasting is depriving oneself of food and other sensory pleasures so as to make the body turn towards God. Fasting is a way to “punish the flesh” so as to wake the Spirit from its slumber and bring it closer to God. As such, there was no need to fast since God himself was right there in their midst. How can the wedding guests fast when the bridegroom is with them? Why look at a person’s picture when the person is right there with you? We are like people who will hold the picture and kick the person out of our homes when we do not get the essence of fasting.
Finally, my dear friend, there is danger in passing judgment before the time; (before all the facts are exposed). Don’t accuse Jesus and his disciples of wrongdoing simply because you did not see them fasting.
Let us pray: O Jesus, give me the grace to grow deeper in the spirit. Amen.
*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Friday of the 22nd week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: 1st Corinthians 4:1-5, Psalm 37:3-40, and Luke 5:33-39).
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