YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THE 28TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE BIRD AT HAND
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
First reading – Wis. 7:7-11 Second reading – Heb. 4:12-13 Gospel – Mk 10:17-30
I remember the story of a man who never believed there is any God. One day, he fell off a cliff. As God would help him, his hands got hold of a branch which suspended him between heaven and earth. Up the heights, he began to feel terrible pains on his hands and so he cried out Help! Help! Sad enough, no one was near. So he remembered, and then looking up to heaven, he cried out again, “please God, if really there is anything like you, send from heaven and save me. A voice surprisingly responded from heaven, “My son I am here and I will save you” No sooner had the atheist got this sign of relief than the voice again said, “I will save you, but…” The man shouted “but what God?” Then the voice instructed “first, take off your right hand from the branch you are holding” After some grumbling, he managed to take off his right hand and waited for salvation soonest. To his amazement, the voice sounded again, this time instructing him to take off the remaining left hand before he could be saved. Hearing this, he retorted in anger, “if truly you are God, how possible do you think I would let go the support I already got for a salvation I have not seen; a bird at hand worth more than one million in the bush. Yes, the devil you know, is it not better than the angel you have not seen?
In truth, how many times have you reasoned in the pattern of the above proverbs? The rich man in today’s Gospel found himself in the same predicaments the man in our story above also found himself. He already got the wealth. What was remaining was an “eternal life” with which to enjoy the wealth. And Jesus gave him a “but” kind of condition demanding that he lets go his wealth. He as well could not understand why he must have to lose the bird already hand.
Many people are afraid to take risks in life. But little do we realize that many things we do must involve a certain kind of risk. The farmer must take the risk of letting go his seed crops before expecting a harvest. Any farmer trying to treasure the bird at hand in this regard is bound to fail. What kind of a trader would prefer withholding his capital, not investing it because it is the bird at hand? Even in the spiritual realm, we too must be ready to let go the bird at hand if we must expect many blessing in-return. There is a big question today. The question is: what do you value so much that competes with your loyalty to God?. I mean what is it that can make you turn your back sadly like the rich young man against Jesus. Whether we like it or not, each of us has got our own “tinted” glasses which we are reluctant to stone. Yours could be wife, or husband. It could be children. It could be your business that you cannot just share the time with going to Church or doing God’s work. But one thing is clear, we must “stone that tinted glass” one day against our will. We must one day let go that bird we think we already got. Then we would be watching it in tears as it flies away. On such a day, such a person would lose the bird at hand and as well the one million in the bush. Why don’t we let it go at the master’s own instruction when we expect a reward?
Ours has got very different from the common notion of a “bird at hand” or “the devil” we know. Yes, our joy should be that the promise of a million in the bush (eternal life) is made to us by someone who alone is to be trusted; and we are sure that he is really an angel that we have not seen. St Paul calls it “what eyes have not seen, what ears have not heard…the things God prepared for those who love him” 1Cor 2:9. We therefore, should not prefer relaxing with the devil we know. Let us be courageous to let go the bird at hand. Let us close our eyes in hope and stone that “tinted glass”. Solomon was courageous in 1Kgs 3:4-15 and it worked out for him. Abraham in Gen. 22:6-19 took the same risk and it worked out. It is a matter of faith. Believe God, it will work out for you too. Jesus encourages “set your hearts on the kingdom first and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well” Matt. 6:33