YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE TENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE POWER OF IDEAS
BY: Fr. Gerald M. Musa
It was Earl Nightengale, an American motivational speaker who says, “Everything begins with an idea.” Undoubtedly, there is a fierce war, and eternal spiritual battle between good and evil. This battle between good and evil often begins with a thought and with ideas that have the potential to transform people into being better or worse. Some ideas may appear attractive, but can also have very dangerous and damaging implications; other ideas that appear repulsive may change circumstances for the better. Ideas, great and small, have shaped history and influenced the pattern of human life through the ages.
About a decade ago, Richard Stengel wrote a beautiful article in Time Magazine where he states, “Ideas change the world. The power of a new idea is the engine that transforms the way we live and think.” The life of Adam and Eve was changed for the worse by a wrong notion implanted into their minds by Satan. Hitherto, they had lived in a serene garden of love, until the serpent came in with some crooked ideas. The serpent was eloquent, smart and spoke convincingly to the couple. He encouraged them to eat the forbidden shiny fruit and assured them they will be wiser if they did so. Afterwards, they realized the idea the devil sold to them disconnected them from God. This false idea introduced negative feelings of fear, guilt and shame in their lives. They later understood they have been deceived and the woman regrettably said, “The devil beguiled me and I ate.” She consumed the wrong idea and passed it on to her husband. She blamed the serpent for deceiving her and her husband blamed her for deceiving him. This was the origin of blame game.
There were multiple consequences for the consumption of wrong idea by Adam and Eve. The serpent was accursed, the woman, soon after began to suffer the pangs of childbirth and the man began to experience the pain of hard labour in the struggle for survival. A battle began between good and evil, between the seed of the serpent (evil) and (Jesus) the seed of a woman (Mary). God said to the Serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed, he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Scripture commentators refer to this verse as proto-evangelium (the first Gospel) because it containes the promise of a Saviour. The seed of the serpent are the forces of evil and the seed of the woman are the faithful followers of her son, Jesus Christ.
During his ministry in the world, Jesus fought a fierce battle with the serpent (the evil), beginning with his temptation at the Wilderness. He drove the serpent away from the hearts and minds of those he had enslaved and kept in bondage. The serpent fought back by implanting bad ideas into the minds of the friends of Jesus. He made the people to resent Jesus and to downplay his message of salvation. Firstly, they accused him of being mad and secondly, they accused him of being possessed by the spirit of Beelzebul.
Every day we are also confronted by false ideas and false accusations. How do we deal with false and evil ideas that appear to be authentic and attractive? Murley Pushon, a 19th century English preacher, gives practical examples of questions people ask when suggestive ideas come to their minds. According to Pushon, “Cowardice asks, is it safe? Expediency asks, “Is it politics?” Vanity asks, is it popular? But conscience asks, is it right?”
There are too many ideas flying around in the world today. In the Old Testament, the Prophet Isaiah cursed merchants of dangerous ideas. He says, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and clever in their own sight! (Isaiah 5:20-21). Likewise, Jesus vehemently warned his disciples about false teachers who plant dangerous ideas in people. He says “Beware of false teachers who come disguised as harmless sheep” (Matthew 7:15). St. Paul wrote to the Romans saying, “Keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. (Romans 16:17-18).
Just as there is always a battle between good and evil, so also there is a raging battle between good ideas and bad ideas. We really need the Spirit of God to discern between good and bad ideas and we need that same Spirit to guide our wayward hearts from going astray. With Jesus, let us stand firm for what is right.
10th Sunday of the Year B/ Genesis 3:9-15; 2 Corinthians 4:13-5:1; Mark 3:20-35