YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: *If only we can render to God a true and sincere worship.*
BY: Fr. Clem C. Aladi.
Gospel MK 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23
*_Just like a user can only understand the operational guidelines of a product by consulting the manufacturer’s user manual, so in God alone can man discover the fullness of his being. Through religion man comes to the knowledge of himself and his God_ “. Clems
My dearest people of God, we have gathered today to search our souls and to declare our readiness to worship God in sincerity of heart devoid of any hypocrisy or lip service. The readings of today explain what true religion is. It is not simply a scrupulous, external observance of rules, laws, traditions and rituals. It is a loving, obedient relationship with God expressed in obeying His Commandments, worshipping Him, recognizing His presence in other human beings and rendering them loving and humble service. Prayers, rituals, Sacraments and religious practices only help us to practice this true religion in our daily lives.
When I ponder on what God has done for us, and the volume of evil I see happening in society daily, I came to the conclusion that the ‘word’ and ‘love’ of God is no longer in the hearts of men/women. My question is, are we really being transformed by the word of God we hear daily or are we becoming more heartless and hardened? Where does the problem lie? is it with the preachers, the commandment of God itself or men and women in society.?
We go to Church yet cheat others in anything involving money.
We go to Church yet we are unfaithful in marriage and promiscuous in living.
We go to Church yet we commit murder. Killing human beings like animals.
We go to Church yet we embezzled public funds, enrich ourselves and family and impoverish the people.
We go to Church yet we are drugs abusers, kidnappers, fraudsters, prostitutes, sex abusers and etc. I can go on in this endless list of evil that has darkened the souls of men and women. Have we lost our consciences?, are we still moved by God’s word. *There is so much hypocrisy in the world that you can hardly distinguish the saint from the devil* . If God does not see our innermost thoughts , modern men and women could deceive Him into believing that they are angels themselves.
Has Christianity failed the world? does the word of God still make an impact in the modern society? Who do we blame for all the atrocities? However, thanks to the word of God because if not for the word of God being preached daily around the globe, this planet would have been an uninhabitable place for humans. Thanks to men and woman of God will who in their daily lives struggle to do the will of God by keeping, His commandments.
But, we can still please God and live reighteously. First, we need to believe in God’s commandments and strive to live by them. The first reading explains that religion is a Covenant relationship with a caring, providing and protecting God, fostered by keeping His Commandments given through Moses. God gave Israel the Law so that the Israelites might keep their Covenant with Yahweh and thank Him for His love and fidelity to His Chosen People. The Law was also intended to keep them a united, holy and intelligent nation, proud of their powerful, protective, single God. *We are so lucky that God is close to us and our nation, but why don’t we acknowledge His presence?* I imagine the kind of hurt God feels daily seeing the people He loves and died for living as if He never existed. Forgive us oh Lord our God and have mercy.
Secondly we need to be sincere and true to our religious worship. James’ definition of the essence of true Religion in the second reading (James 1:18), sounds too simple to be true to most modern Christians who have a naive understanding of what true religion consists of or who have been schooled into a religion that is not Christian. The manner in which God is worshipped in this modern age leaves one with the question, is God still the centre of worship? Was Karl Max not right when he said that ” religion is the opium of the people”. Has religion. become a tool of mass destruction?. With the volume of different doctrinal teachings spreading across the globe emanating from different preachers and founders of churches and pseudo churches, I am becoming more afraid that religion may in the end become the greatest instrument of division among humanity. There is no unity in the message of many modern preachers like we heard from Christ and the Apostolic preachings and teachings. Many modern preachers are no better than the Pharisees who multiplied the commandment of God and impose them on people as a divine injunction. Dear preacher preach Christ and not yourself.
My dearest child of God the great apostle James has said it all *true religion is keeping the word of God and doing His will by helping the needy, the poor and the weak in the community.’* Anything short of this is hypocrisy, anything added to this is ostentatious. Let us understand this and curtail excesses and stop being fake. You can deceive men but not God.
In the Gospel, Jesus describes *true religion as serving God and all His children with a pure and holy heart* . Simple, the same thing James echoed above. The Pharisees and the Sanhedrin taught they are so enlightened as to accuse Jesus’ teaching as an open voilation of the tradition of elders and tagging them blasphemous. They did not know that they were blind leaders. They observed that Jesus’ disciples omitted the required ritual washing before meals and Jesus ceased that opportunity to teach them and all of us that:
1) Don’t teach human doctrines as dogmas of Faith.(Pastors beware)
2) Sincerity of heart, internal disposition, purity and holiness are more important than mere external ritual observances. (Look inward and stop looking around)
3) Keep your heart holy as it is the source of sins, vices and evil habits. The observance of traditions and of washing rituals does not correct the internal motivations and inclinations that really defile people. Think positively,live positively, act positively. May your intentions be pure, do not harbour sinful thoughts.
4) External piety without innermost holiness is hypocrisy. Remember God searches our innermost heart. _Chineke amarago ndi nke ya._
May our lives be pleasing to God as we offer Him a sincere worship and thanksgiving. Do not let the modern world influence you negatively as James admonished us in the second reading. Confer also Romans 12:2″ _Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”_
Be true to yourself. Strive to please God and not men.
I keep you and your family always in my prayers. Happy new month of God’s blessings and favours.
Fr. Clem C. Aladi.