YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: WHY DO STILL FOLLOW HIM?
BY: Fr. Clem Mezie Aladi.
… “you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled” (John 6:26).
My dearest Children of God, we have gathered again in God’s presence to worship and adore Him because we have faith in Him. Some among us may have gathered for some other reasons best known to them. The readings of today challenges us again to ask ourselves some deep personal questions on what really motivates us to be followers of Christ(Christians). Are you a Christian because of faith in Christ in whom is our salvation or because of material and temporal benefits.
It was obvious that the Jews misunderstood the religious import of Jesus’ feeding of the multitude. Their minds were fixed on the miracle (material food) they ate, that their hearts were not drawn closer to Christ. Jesus in feeding the 5000 clearly demonstrates that it is always good to attend to people’s immediate physical needs in order to dispose them to be open to the deeper needs of faith, love, forgiveness , etc. In multiplying the loaves Jesus meant to multiply the faith of His followers.
Is materialism not the philosophical ideology and the religious code of worship of many who call themselves Christians today . Materialistic minded people hardly perceives whatever that does not appeal to their senses, for them matter is all that exists. They seek gain in everything and are concerned about here and now and not tomorrow. You will hear such or similar statement from them as “please let’s leave God in this matter”. Faith or religious minded people on the other hand see the hand of God in everything that happens around them and reflects deeply in every situation seeking to hear God speak to them in prayers before they act. They are concerned about their salvation in Christ and will do anything to please God. They go to Church to worship God and not to look for miracles from God. Where do you really belong? .
Unfortunately the Jews in Jesus time were blind to faith. Their reason for searching for Jesus could be clearly seen in their reply…” Sir give us that bread always”. Many Christians today are not different from them. The many aberrations springing up daily in Church, the religious syncretism and hypocrisy of modern Christian offshoots from materialism. Do we really go to Church to worship God anymore or to seek for His miracles? . Ask your self today why am I here in the Church?. I often hear people say that most young men come to Church to search for a wife, many too move around to Churches searching for miracles, but all these points to the level of degeneration and decadence in the faith of most modern day Christians. Many here today may have come for many reasons best known to them. If God should search our minds and cast them on a projected screen, you will be surprised that many are here today for a different motive. The Church becomes a commercial or social gathering centre when people of faith are not worshipping there in. Aren’t we commercializing religious worship, extorting money from worshippers in the God’s name?. What motivates you to go to Church on Sundays, is to meet Christ or meet with friends or perhaps that special person.?
Our God from of Old has been a generous God but we are taking God’s generosity for granted, offending the giver of our gifts for His generosity. In the first reading God fed the murmuring and complaining Israelites with manna in the desert. This manna prefigures His body which He will give for the salvation of the world. *God blesses us with material gift in order to draw us to deeper faith or knowledge of Him* . Are your blessings and gift drawing you closer or farther from God?. God placed a restriction on the collection of manna in the first reading… ” _each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion; thus will I test them”_ . Do you know God tests you with His gifts to know if you will obey His commandments, love him and be generous to others. The restrictions imposed by God for collecting the manna reminds us to trust that God will always provide what we need. *Sometimes we have to be stripped of our usual sources of support in order to remember that our ultimate sustenance comes only from God, and to acknowledge humbly our total dependence on Him* . Why are people accumulating excesses for the future generations when many today are hungry and starved. When we go to parties, many take a lot away, most times obtained deceitfully or stolen while many are starved. Let’s change our attitude and depend on God who cares for us.
“Don’t work for the food which perishes, but for the food which remains to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you” (v. 27a). Jesus challenges the us to raise our eyes to see beyond the physical realm. Earlier he said of himself, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me, and to accomplish his work” (4:34). Now he challenges the us to join him on his spiritual journey. We first heard these words, “perish” and “eternal life” in 3:16, where Jesus spoke of God loving the world and giving the Son so “that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” So let’s work for what endures. Don’t leave reality and pursuing shadoes. These earthly treasures will someday perish.
In the second reading, St. Paul advises the Ephesians and us to satisfy our spiritual hunger by turning away from their former evil ways and by leading renewed lives of love, kindness, compassion and forgiveness. Paul reminds us that *our acceptance of Jesus as the real source of our life and the nourishment of our souls effects a total transformation in us.* Having been nourished by the Bread from Heaven and the word of God, we need to bear witness to Christ by living lives renewed by the Holy Spirit.
In the Gospel, my dearest Children of God, the bread of life discourse draws our deeper attention to Jesus in the Eucharist who gives himself daily to us. Here Jesus makes the unique and bold claim: “ _I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.”_ Jesus is offering us Bread from Heaven, Bread that nourishes us for eternal life, the Bread available to people who have Faith in Jesus Christ. Let us receive Jesus with reverence in the Eucharist and may our daily experience of receiving Him deepen our faith in Him and draw us closer to His sacred heart. The more we draw closer to God , He draws closer to us and satisfy our deepest longings. People are materialistic because they are empty, and by acquiring they think they can satisfy their needs. Our emptiness can only be filled by God who is the most important need of man/woman. Without God you will continue to be hungry and thirsty.
May we seek God for the right reasons and with pure intentions. Seek you first the kingdom of God and every other thing shall be added unto you Matt 6:33. God never disappoints even when you think you are disappointed. He does everything for a purpose. May our experience of God draw us to deeper faith in Him and fill us with His blessings.
I keep you and your family always in my prayers.
Clem Mezie Aladi.