YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE FOURTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: JOURNEY OF THE MISSIONARIES
BY: Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE
By virtue of our baptism, we share in the prophetic mission of Christ, the mission that positions us to be mouthpieces of God and to pronounce God’s will and demand in every circumstance of life. Like every other state of life, this vocation is never without challenges. It is only the grace and power of God working in, with and through us that leads us through. May this grace and power never cease in our generation; Amen.
The readings of today’s liturgy present to us the reality of this vocation and mission as something of divine origin. It is God who calls and sends prophets to speak in His name to His people “the Lord says this.” This was the case with Ezekiel as we read in the First Reading (Ez 2:2-5) “son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites.” The authority of the prophet stems from his or her being sent by God. The ordeals of the prophet also have their root in the fact that the voice of God speaks a different language from the worldly voices and makes a different demand, for “Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his people, to his saints, to those who turn to him in their hearts” (Ps 85:8). To some, in their sincere search for God, this voice is very much welcomed. To others who are “in revolt against God” it is an unwanted reminder of the true path that leads to the satisfaction of our innermost heart desires. All of the various challenges that the prophet must face could be located within this dilemma between the one voice of God represented by the prophet and the countless number of worldly voices speaking differently.
One sees the various manifestations of these challenges in the three readings. Firstly, in the First Reading, we saw how the obstinacy of the people could constitute a great challenge to the prophet, making them resistant to the Word of Life. Resistance to the message of the prophet was often tantamount to his insecurity. Jeremiah was in fact thrown into the pit and left there to die (Jer 38:1-13). Secondly, we saw in the Second Reading (2 Cor 12:7-10) how the heavy weight of our human weakness, in the life and mission of Saint Paul, could be a very discouraging force before the very ideal the prophet proclaims and before the goal he seeks. Isaiah was also overwhelmed when he was called that he cried out “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Is 6:5). Because of this, some have abandoned their mission and followed other paths. Thirdly is the challenge from our closest cycles, family and friends whose ridicule by words and deeds often time refreshes in the mind and heart of the prophet the age long saying “physician heal yourself.” This was the case with our Lord Jesus Christ in the Gospel Reading of today (Mk 6:1-6) “this is the carpenter, surely, the son of Mary.” This expression includes the danger the counter-witness of the prophet’s relatives poses to the message he carries and also shows the indisposition of those in this cycle to the message of the prophet just because they know his or her background and natural roots.
These challenges, in new forms, are present in our generation and much more serious as everyone claims to be master of himself or herself. As prophets, we are invited never to lose heart and never to give in to the different antics of the evil one to stunt the growth of God’s Kingdom. The prophet himself is subject to the message he bears. He is challenged by the standards he upholds and together with those to whom he is sent are on a journey to our common Father. As members of the flock, we must always be conscious of the fact that irrespective of who the prophet is, it is always God who speaks through him or her. Whether we like the prophet or we know him or we dislike the message he or she bears, it is always God who speaks.
May God renew in the hearts of each and every one of us the prophetic zeal that will lead us to put aflame in the world the fire of God’s love, certain of God’s promise to us all “My grace is enough for you”; Amen.
Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE