YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 22ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: Do not honour God with your lips but keep to his laws that you may live.
BY: Fr. Callistus Emenyonu
READINGS: Deut. 4: 1-2. 6-8, James 1:
17-18.21-22.27, Mk 7: 1-8. 15-15.21-23
For a society or any organized group of humans to live, there must be some agreed and stipulated way of doing things to bring order, uniformity, harmony, peace and progress. When this is absent or present without functioning there would be chaos and anarchy, peace and progress would be elusive. This codified mode of oppression is the law or commandment. Laws command our actions and mandate all under the organized group. The commandment is stricter and stronger when the parties involved are not parity but one is the superior and master (suzerainty) who should dictate the pace since he supplies what it takes to maintain that relationship. The duty of the other party is to follow the conditionality of that laid down rules by the master if the subject values and wants to maintain that relationship. In this the subject gains while the superior has nothing to gain or lose whether the relationship is sustained or not. This is our situation with God.
In the first reading God informed the people of Israel through their leader and God’s mouth piece Moses to keep his commandments which he has given them if they really want to get to and possess the land of promise. It implies that if the laws are not kept they would not reach and possess the land; they would lose the promise God the Master has made them. The condition is spelt out and it is left for Israel to decide to gain the promise or lose it; all depends on their resolve to obey the commandments. It is on account of this that St James advices us that since every good gifts come from the Father of lights- God, we should make honest efforts to be doers of whatever he instructs us and that is his commandment and ordinances. The Scribes and Pharisees are aware that every society operates within the ambience of the law so they accused Jesus’ followers of not keeping to the laws that tradition and elders taught them. The issue is not knowledge of the law but what kind of law is put before us and how do we apply ourselves to the demands of the law?
Beloved in Christ, the Christians know too well the laws of God and what he has commanded us to do in order to inherent his kingdom and escape the wrath of God on the last day. We hear each day we gather in the house of God or in his name in every Church the things and actions required of us but which of them do we keep and practice as a matter of choice and seriousness. Many times Christians are afraid of the tradition and culture of their people especially pagan laws and we respect and keep them with utmost fear and care while making a jest of God’s. We call ourselves Christians because we attend one Church or the other and perhaps pay our monetary dues. Many delude themselves that they are leaders in the Church and receive communion as well as pay their tithe. St Paul advices people of this sort that they should start keeping to the laws of God and stop deceiving themselves. Our religious observances must first and foremost be known for obedience of the laws of God, the Church and the society then be followed by pious acts such as care of the orphans and less privileged, widows and the afflicted in the society. We must avoid staining ourselves with non-Christian cultures, pleasing of the ungodly people and their laws. Many of us honour God with lips service while our hearts are far from him and so all that we do in the name of religion is vain, self deceit and complete waste of time and resources.
May we learn to value the commands of the Lord so that people seeing how our promises are fulfilled would marvel that we are a people whose God is so close to them than any other. May we work without fault, do what is right, speak the truth never slander with our tongues, do no wrong to our neighbours, cast no slur on our friends, scorn the wicked and honour those who fear the Lord. May we lend to the poor, accept no bribes and then receive the reward of living in the tent of the Lord on the last day, Amen. HAPPY NEW MONTH OF THE EMBER MONTH
Rev. Fr. Callistus Emenyonu, cmf