YEAR B: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 18TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: UNTIL THE REAL PROBLEM IS DISCOVERED
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
First reading – Ex 16:2-4, 12-15
Second Reading – Eph. 4:17.20-24
Gospel – Jn 6:24-35
It is an adage in my local dialect that someone who never knew from where the rain started beating him would not be able to decipher the point at which it stopped. In other words, the root of finding a solution to any problem lies in discovering what the problem really is. It excites our anger to think of the number of times the people of Israel complained against God. “This insatiable people”, we all would say. But I am made to ask the question why were they never satisfied? Attempting the answer, I feel that one of the major problems the Israelites had, was their inability to realize they were sojourners in need to get back to their homeland. They never knew this. They began to think that their problem was freedom from oppression; and when that was solved, they still found out they were not satisfied. They thought it was a problem of security, and that too was solved. Still unsatisfied, they felt it was food, then water, then not having a god. So they went on and on complaining for a good number of times.
It also attracts attention to think of the crowed coming up in the gospel of today, again to make such a demand of another sign from Jesus: “What sign will you give to show us that we should believe in you? What work will you do?” (Jn 6:30). Does it mean that the feeding of five thousand men with only five loaves and two fish was not enough to make them believe in Jesus? Why were the people not satisfied with that? Jesus’ reaction was meant to bring to their notice that they, like the people of Israel in the desert, never realized what exactly their need was. To them, it was food at first and the food was provided; now they seek another sign. Believe me, if three more signs were given by Jesus, they would still be unsatisfied. Their real problem was in something imperishable and enduring while they sought it in the perishable and temporary. Jesus rightly pointed out to them: “Do not work for food that cannot last, but work for food that endures to eternal life” Jn 6:27. Eternal life is our destination.
Let no one feel hurt if I say that most of us like the Jews do not know exactly what our real problem is. You see that particular thing you feel that only if solved you won’t worry anymore, if that is solved now, believe me, it is not finished. What then, is this real problem I mean? It is no other than that we too, like the people of Israel do not realize we are mere sojourners in this wilderness. It was Jim Rives who sang the beautiful song: “This world is not my home I’m just a passing through My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore” Yes, can’t just feel at home in this world. Why? It is because this world is not our home and we are just passing through the wilderness of this world like the Israelites to our permanent home. Many have come to think we have arrived, but not yet. Till we get home, we must keep complaining.
Economists rightly discovered that human wants are insatiable. The more you acquire, the more, like Oliver Twist, you want some more. The complaint never ends. Where do we go from there? Come on, we can’t get to any other home outside Christ. Both as a nation and as individuals, we must give God a place in our lives; else the murmuring would not stop. St Augustine rightly said that our souls are created for God, and we would never know any rest until we rest in God.
The matter would be worse if we, like the Israelites, fail to realize that Egypt is never our homeland. The answer to our insatiability is found in Jesus. He alone satisfies. He is our terminus a quo (our beginning), and our terminus ad quem (our end). If we realize this, then, it means we have hope. The good news is that God kept providing for the people of Israel to see if they could discover Him. Jesus too, provided food for the crowd to see if they could discover Him. As a nation, we cannot recount how many provisions God has made for us. And as individuals can we not see Divine providence in our lives? My prayers are that God never gets tired of providing for us as He did for the Israelites. But let us not risk the failure of yet not discovering Him.
SONG OF TODAY
THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME
This world is not my home I’m just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you If heaven’s not my home then Lord what will I do The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore I have a loving mother just up in Gloryland And I don’t expect to stop until I shake her hand She’s waiting now for me in heaven’s open door And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore Oh Lord you know…
Just over in Gloryland we’ll live eternally the saints on every hand are shouting victory Their songs of sweetest praise drift back from heaven’s shore
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore