YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME.
HOMILY THEME: _The Discipleship that costs: following the Christ of the cross or the friends of social media._
BY: Fr. Clem Mezie Aladi.
GOSPEL: MK 8:27-35
My dear Children of God, may the glory of God descend upon you who have gathered in His holy temple to worship Him, as we renew our promises today to become His through disciples.
_Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me…”_ Mk 8:34.
The readings of today especially the gospel explains that the basis of our faith is in acceptance of Jesus as the Christ the son of the Living God. The Christ who through His sufferings, death and resurrection saves us from sin. If we are to have a share in His suffering and experience the grace of His death and resurrection, we must follow Him daily denying our selves and taking up our cross.
I made up this Joke “Deny your Bible, Take up your phone, and follow on Instagram or Facebook”. Funny it may sound but this reflects the attitude of many Christians today. Over the years many have captioned this homily “the cost of discipleship” But I choose to caption it the discipleship that costs”. A disciple is a follower or a student who is learning from his master or I choose this more appropriate definition for this homily, a disciple is a person who disciplines himself or herself in the teachings and practices of another. In the Christian context, we are all disciples of Christ. There can never be a true disciple without discipline. Every disciple of Christ must be ready to follow in the discipline of their Master. We need faith and discipline to be true disciples of Christ. Faith because we need to believe in the one we follow. We need to recognise who He is as Peter did and discipline because we have to follow the rules- ‘deny’ ‘take up’ and ‘follow’.
People follow too many things today- Instagram, for one. Many boosts of having many followers on the social media while they themselves have no one to follow. You follow many celebrities and friends online but hardly follow Christ and His ways. You give thumbs up and likes to those you follow on social media but does not like anything about the gospel. You spend many hours watching those you follow on social media but gets bored reading the bible or the homilies we send to you or listening to the gospel preached in Church.
Too many things materially or financially speaking may be costly but the more costly is following as a disciple. It costs nothing monetary but it cost a lot. Many do not follow Christ because he speaks of denial of oneself as the first discipline for His followers. *Self-denial is an act of letting go of the self as with altruistic abstinence – the willingness to forgo personal pleasures or undergo personal trials in the pursuit of the increased good of another* In the first reading of today from the third suffering servant song of Isaiah aspects of Christ’s own life and mission is foreshadowed. Christ’s life is one of radical obedience and conformity to God’s will. How could Christ have done this if He didn’t deny His Royalty and Kingly prestige to die as a servant. This is exactly what he calls us to do. But this is very hard for us because we are naturally selfish, it is grace that makes the difference in our lives. James without mincing words in the second reading highlights aspects of self-denial in respect to our Faith in Christ. James explains how our Faith in Jesus, the Messiah, should help us to alleviate the sufferings of others by our works of mercy, both corporal and spiritual. Hence F *AITH WITHOUT GOOD WORKS IS DEAD AND WITHOUT SELF DENIAL, GOOD WORK IS IMPOSSIBLE.*
Peter ran headlong into trouble in denying himself in the gospel passage. Peter doesn’t want Jesus to go to Jerusalem to suffer and to die. He wants the Messiah according to his wishes. He wants Jesus to arrive triumphantly in Jerusalem and restore Israel. In Peter’s agenda, there is no room for a suffering Messiah who cares diligently for the poor and the oppressed.
In our own world, we get caught like Peter. We do not often deny ourselves in order to put the other first. Our agendas and our schedules come first in our daily lives. Our plans and our needs are more important than the others. *Once our plans are set we don’t want to change them. If we do, we upset the status quo. We can’t upset others, because if we upset others then we aren’t being Christian.*
The greatest enemies in the spiritual life are the ‘Self’. When we conquer the self of its selfish desires then following Christ becomes easy. Taking up our cross as Christ took His becomes even much more easier. Your cross could be any suffering you have to endure for Christ’s sake, to be a faithful follower or disciple. Do not forget that the cross is a symbol of victory, so do not give it up. Don’t drop it, face it with faith and courage, God will always provide the strength and fortitude, He will never allow the weight of your cross to bring you down. ” *If God sends you many sufferings it is a sign that He has great plans for you, and certainly wants to make you a saint.* ” St. Ignatius of Loyola
Let us, therefore, ask God in this mass and today to strengthen our resolutions to be His faithful followers. To give us the grace to recognise Him in every challenge of life and follow him with perseverance. We pray too for the grace of self-denial so that we may care more for others in works of charity and to make heaven at the end of this earthly life.
We continue to pray for the peaceful repose of Fr Jude Egbuom. Continue to rest in the Lord.
I keep you and your family always in my Prayers.
Fr. Clem Mezie Aladi.