YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 1ST WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: THE DEFEAT OF THE CHILDREN OF GOD!
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: * 1 Sam 4 : 1 – 11, Mk 1 : 40 – 45.
Whenever the children of God engage in battle with the ‘Philistines’ and the children of God are defeated, then know it that something is wrong somewhere ; another ‘Ichabodization’ has taken place – the departure of the glory of God. Whenever the Ark of God is captured and the young men (Hophni and Phinehas) are slain, then something is wrong somewhere because our covenant with God is for longevity, Is 65 : 20.
Leprosy and all forms of terminal sicknesses can never be in the original (predestined) will of God and that is why in today’s gospel, when the Leper knelt down before Jesus and said : ‘If you will, you can make me clean’, Jesus’ response was immidiate : ‘I will, be clean’. There is always something fundamentally wrong somewhere when children of God suffer defeat, hardships, sicknesses and terrible maladies. It may not necessarily be their personal fault, it could be that of their parents, relations, friends or enemies.
But the good news is that Jesus also suffered and died as a young man and presented his cross as a paradigm for us to be able to carry our own crosses. The real challenge now lies in knowing when our sufferings are our crosses or our punishments ; When our sufferings are our defeat or our road to victory ; When our sufferings are indices of the absence of the glory of God or the opposite, Rom 5 : 1 – 3. We can be sure that Jesus continues to fight our battles as he did for Moses, Joshua, Gideon, etc. He continues to heal our diseases through the intermediary of priests in the sacraments of the Eucharist, Penance, Anointing of the Sick, etc. But we must be careful not to substitute our use of sacraments or sacramentals for the obedience of God, otherwise what happened to the Israelites in today’s 1st reading will still happen to us. Religion is not like parachute – something to grab when an emergency occurs. Instead of seeking the God of the Ark, they sought the ark of God. Instead of seeking for the God of the work, we seek for the work of God. Instead of seeking for the God of the Word, we seek merely for the Word of God ; So much empty theologies resound in our Churches nowadays devoid of the power and presence of God. Let us be careful not to repeat the mistake of the Israelites in today’s 1st reading. The temptation is always to rely merely on some ritual, language or words as if they have magical powers. That is superstition and superstition is the religion of feeble minds. It is a godless religion. Jesus can never be reduced to a charm whether we call it a sacramental or even a sacrament. A St Christopher’s medal can never be a guarantee against careless driving.
May God help us to avoid this kind of emergency holiness that we may learn how to do the will of God both in season and out of season.
May God bless you today!