YEAR B: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 27TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: The Courage of St. Paul and the Foolishness of the
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
_“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?” *Galatians 3:1-2.*
Having confronted Pope Peter as we saw in yesterday’s reading, Paul turned to face the Galatians. He gave it to them! Why was Paul being so hard on these Galatians? What did they do that deserved being called foolish and is it possible that I could be guilty of it even today?
Dear friends, this period in the history of Christianity was when Christians were beginning to carve out an identity for themselves separate from the Jews. Judaism was the religion in vogue right from the time of Abraham. Even Jesus and his disciples were Jews and they regularly went to the synagogue to worship. Now, one of its strongest tenet of Judaism is circumcision; a mark of the covenant between God and the nation of Israel.
Even though many Jews had become Christians, they still held on to the belief that circumcision was the ticket to salvation. More still, some Jewish Christians insisted that the newly converted Gentiles must be circumcised first before being accepted as members of the Church. By so doing, they were literally watering down everything Jesus did for us on the Cross of Calvary and exulting circumcision (the law).
Paul had to come hard on them for thinking this way. He needed to drum it into their heads that they did not receive the Holy Spirit because they were circumcised but because of the faith, they had in Jesus Christ. God did not allow those miracles they witnessed to happen just because they were circumcised but because they were Christians. As such, even without being circumcised, the Gentiles had equal chances of getting to heaven as the Jews.
Like these Galatians, it is foolish to assume my going to heaven is courtesy of my obedience to God’s commandments; that way, I would be downplaying the supreme sacrifice of Jesus Christ for me on the Cross and exulting the law. I would be saying Jesus’ death has no meaning for me and I am my own saviour. Faith in Jesus is what ensures our salvation, not the law. Nevertheless, as James would later clarify, this faith is not something that begins and ends only inside our heads; faith is active, it must reveal itself by good deeds.
This faith is what Jesus Christ teaches us in today’s Gospel passage illustrated with the friend who needed help in the middle of the night. Jesus is saying that even if God did not intend to answer your prayer initially, your persistence might make God change His mind for your sake. Like a friend whose family is already asleep and would have to wake them up to help with a loaf of bread, God can do anything for you because he likes you; because you are His friend.
Jesus did not end with the analogy of friendship (after all, some friends betray us), He stepped it up to the level of Father- child relationship. God is not just a friend, He is also a Father; a responsible Father, a father who will not give His child serpent in place of fish or scorpion in place of an egg. I like to think of it this way, whenever I pray, whatever be the outcome of my prayer, I assure myself that what I have got is the fish and the egg God wants me to have. Knowing that no single prayer we utter is wasted or unheard gives us the Faith not only to pray more but even to give thanks.
The worst prayer you can ever pray is a faithless prayer. Asking without expecting, asking with annoyance; asking hopelessly or asking as if the time spent in prayer is wasted. Dear friends, let us allow the words of Jesus Christ today to sink in deeply: “And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10. Prayer is never a waste. We always get something whenever we pray. We might be too ungrateful to notice it but we always, always, always get something back when we pray.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, save me from the foolishness of depending on the law and from faithlessness. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Thursday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Galatians 3:1-5, Psalm [Luke 1:69-75] and Luke 11:5-13).