YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (13)

YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 15TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

HOMILY THEME: PRIESTHOOD BUSINESS :FROM VOCATION TO OCCUPATION!

BY: Fr. Ben Agbo

 

HOMILY:

Amos 7:12-15, Eph 1:3-14, Mk 6:7-13.

A. PREAMBLE

One of the greatest tragedies bedevilling modern day Christianity is the commodification of the gospel business. The mass media is full of adverts everyday of prospective crusades and religious programmes that most times do not transmit into the society any quantum measure of the spirit of holiness ; the social media is awash with stories of Church scandals everyday – last week it was about a hot fight among irate pastors of the Mountain of Fire Ministry over money and cars ; many adoration ministers are fighting a cold war against each other in a kind of competition for followers ; some neighbouring parish priests are quarrelling over the territorial boundary of Parishioners, etc. The bottom line is not about salvation but pecuniary matters.

In today’s 1st reading, Amos, the prophet from Judah reminded Amaziah the priest of Bethel that there is a big difference between our occupation (aka oru) ie what we do for a living ( in his own case he was a shepherd) ; our profession ( oru aka) ie what we have learnt as a skill ( in his own case he was a gardener specialized in dressing sycamore trees) ; and our vocation (akaraka) ie what God has destined or called us to do ( in his own case to be a prophet). Today, the shift from charismatic to private ministries have become worrisome ; charismatic ministries are characterized by the use / channelling of one’s gifts to the benefit of the universal and local Church while private ministries are characterized by the channelling of one’s gifts to the growth of an individual minister.

B. DEMANDS OF THE PRIESTLY VS CHARISMATIC MINISTRY

In the Old testament, priests were meant to offer sacrifices while prophets were called to speak the mind of God to the people. In the New testament both functions were combined in Christ & the apostles were now ordained with the 3 fold authority as priests (for sacrifice), prophets (for teaching) & kings (for administration of leadership).

From today’s gospel, we see the most important requirements for the New testament ministerial priesthood as follows ;

(i) EVANGELICAL AUTHORITY :

“No one takes this honour upon himself”, Heb 5:4. Christ in the gospel of today surmoned the apostles and gave them authority over unclean spirits, Mk 6:7-13 and authority of mission to evangelize, Matt 28:18-20 and authority to administer the 7 sacraments:

1. To baptize, Matt 28:19, 2. To confirm, 2 Tim 1:6-8, 3. To confect the Eucharist, Lk 22:20, 4. To forgive sins, Jn 20:23, 5. To anoint the sick, James 5:14, 6. To ordain priests, 1 Tim 4:14 and 7. To unite couples, Matt 19:2. *Not everyone who preaches the gospel is a priest. Every christian is an evangelist; some have the gift and the commission but evangelists are not necessarily priests. Priesthood is a clerical status that is conferred on individuals by ordination and anointing with special authority for mission.

(ii) PASTORAL DETACHMENT :

Christ warned : Take nothing for the journey except the staff of authority…no bread, no haversack… Priesthood and indeed all evangelical ministry, requires complete detachment. The love of money and materialism brings in terrible complications and distractions.

(iii) VOCATIONAL STABILITY :

They were expected to stay where they were sent until they were posted elsewhere. Itinerant ministers often have the tendency of playing to the gallery and disappearing thereafter but resident ministers live with the people to defend their message and accompany it with praxis.

(iv) SPIRITUAL JUDGMENT :

They were told to “shake off the dust” from under their feet in case of rejection from the people, but wherever they are welcomed, they should pronounce the blessings of peace and prosperity on them.

C. CONTEXTUALIZATION
The difference between ordained priests, commissioned evangelists & self appointed preachers must be clarified here. Authority is conferred while power may be acquired. According to William Barclay, ‘A prophet is the man with God’s wisdom in his mind, God’s truth on his lips and God’s courage in his heart’.
All catholic priests are supposed to share in the ministry of priests, prophets & kings. But depending on
one’s personal gifts/ talents, some may only excel in pure priestly functions, eg dispensation of sacraments; some others in prophetic declarations while some exercise special administrative/leadership/ counselling abilities. We are ordained priests according to the order of Melkizedek; He alone captures the 3 essences of the priesthood as far back as in Genesis 14:17-24 and
became the Old testament paradigm of the celibate priesthood. He had a right to receive tithes because he
had no mundane attachments. He was placed as the New testament sample of the priesthood of Christ, Heb 7:1-19- a priesthood that has no need of offering any other sacrifices except commemorating the sacrifice that Christ did once and for all at Calvary- this is what Catholics call ‘mass’. Without the mass, there is no priest. Because every priest is ordained to offer sacrifices, Heb 5:1-2. In the New testament, without the mass we will have only evangelists or at best, prophets!

D. CONCLUSION
The Christian vocation is principally a call to holiness. Today’s 2nd reading reminds us that ‘He has blessed us in Christ with all spiritual blessings’…7 of them; (i) Holiness; (ii) Adoption,        (iii) Forgiveness through his blood,  (iv) Freedom, (v) Wisdom, (vi) Faith and (vii) The seal of the Holy Spirit.

We must never allow the pursuit of material gains to distract any aspect of the evangelical ministry ; priestly, prophetic or charismatic.
We must be careful to distinguish between the “Amaziahs” and the “Amoses” in the ministry!

Have you donated yet? We are praying and wishing you a great year ahead.

<script src="https://donorbox.org/widget.js" paypalexpress="false"></script><iframe src="https://donorbox.org/embed/we-need-your-assistance" name="donorbox" allowpaymentrequest="allowpaymentrequest" seamless="seamless" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" height="900px" width="100%" style="max-width: 500px; min-width: 250px; max-height:none!important"></iframe>

Please Donate》》》