HOMILY THEME: Better Be Wronged Than Go Before An Unbeliever.

BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu



_“To have lawsuits at all with one another is defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded?” * (1 Corinthians 6:7)*_

Whether we like it or not, as long as we continue to live together as humans, we are bound to have disputes and misunderstanding among ourselves. Even best of friends have quarrels from time to time. I have never seen or heard of anyone who lived all his life without picking a single fight with another human being.

In the Sermon on the Mount, instead of Jesus to say “You are blessed when no one treats you unjustly or insults you,” he said: “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely” (Matthew 5:11). This means, we should not only expect injustice from others, we should consider ourselves blessed when it happens.

In fact, going further, Jesus added: “If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Mathew 5:39). Indeed, by asking us to turn the other cheek instead of returning an eye for an eye, Jesus was introducing a concept not known to man, a concept that does not align with human nature; a concept that makes us uniquely Christ-like who had all the power to retaliate but refused to strike back when he was beaten, shamed and killed on the cross. Show me a man who can turn the other cheek and I will show you the living face of Jesus Christ.

In today’s first reading, St. Paul basically builds on this. He tells the Corinthian church that being Christians at all, it is already a defeat that they should ever have lawsuits not to mention bringing their disputes before unbelievers. If we claim to be Christians (Christ-like), how do we imagine Christ walking up to Pilate or Herod to seek justice over the Scribes and the Pharisees? And if we cannot act just like Christ when we are offended, do we really deserve the name “Christ-ian”? What could be more shameful than have an unbeliever try to settle a matter between two Christians?

St. Paul wants us to understand that what we stand to lose by turning the other cheek (by not seeking what rightfully belongs to us), is not as big as what we stand to lose when we wash our dirty linens outside. It is better for us to suffer injustice than to suffer the disrespect of people who should admire us for being Christians. The truth is that if we seek justice like everyone else, our evangelization is in vain. Why would I as an idol worshipper be moved to convert when I cannot see any difference between your behaviour and my behaviour when you are angry? (In this regard, I must confess I am guilty.) We have seen cases where Christians drag their fellow Christians to Court or even to Traditional rulers, Palace Chiefs, Government Officials or Politicians in Power.

We have seen cases of Christians fighting right after the Church service or even during the church service itself, destroying musical instruments and breaking chairs in church. The truth that as long as you live in this imperfect world, something will surely provoke you very soon, it will be your turn very soon to get viciously angry with a fellow Christian. Just know that it is how you choose to behave at such moments that will determine the real extent of your resemblance to Christ.

Finally, in our imitation of Christ, let us always remember to commit our major decisions to prayer. Jesus spent all night in prayer (without loudspeakers, of course) before choosing his closest allies; the twelve disciples. It wasn’t simply a rational decision neither was it a matter of guessing nor a question of political correctness. Jesus did not ask anyone to submit his C.V. When recruiting employees, business partners or close friends, do I behave like Christ?

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, bring me to a deeper awareness of what it means to be a Christian. Amen.

*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Tuesday of the 23rd Week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: 1 Corinthians 6:1-11, Psalm 149:1-9 and Luke 6:12-19).

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