YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 21ST SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: STRUGGLE FOR ETERNITY…
BY: Rev Fr Jacob Aondover ATSU
HOMILY: READINGS: ISAIAH 66:18-21, PSALM 117, HEBREWS 12:5-7.11-13, LUKE 13:22-30
A very happy Sunday to you all and welcome to this new week made and gifted us by God. Let me invite you to heed Jesus’ call by relentlessly striving to be candidates of heaven. My beloved brothers and sisters, for Christ, entry into heaven is the result and reward of a struggle. He says in Luke 13:24, ‘strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many will attempt but will not be strong enough’.
The struggle to gain entrance into heaven entails: (1). Forgoing personal cares and pleasures, (2). Imbibing self discipline and accepting that which God brings to us, and (3) Following the Christian way. The Christian way is like a climb up a mountain pathway towards a peak that can never be reached in this world. It is a road of thorns, sufferings, pain, trials and temptations; and persecution. It is the way of the Cross. However this way may be, whatever challenges we meet along this way, we ought to patiently strive through trusting in God’s omniscience.
St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians 4:5 tells us that Christ redeemed us from the law and adopted us as sons. If then we are sons, Hebrews 12:5 maintains, we must bear the discipline of the Lord and accept it with joy. No good parent pets his or her beloved child too much but stringently disciplines him preparatory to a good life tomorrow. Likewise, God disciplines those he loves and prepares them for heaven.
Brethren, for us to inherit God’s kingdom, we must follow Jesus who is the way, the truth and the life, (Jn. 14:6). Following him translates to self denial, taking up of one’s cross and following him (Matt. 16:25); for whoever does not take up his cross and follow after Christ is not worthy of him (Matt. 10:38). By taking up our crosses and following Christ, we will be shading off the irrelevant and mundane attachments that make us too cumbersome and unable to go through the narrow gate of heaven. This is the kind of discipline that Heb. 12:5-7,11-13 speaks of.
Moreover, Jesus wants us to realize that being so religious; belonging to many societies in Church, attending daily Masses and frequenting Holy Communion, taking care of the Church and its environs, donating plentifully for the upkeep of the Church, etc alone does not in any way guarantee our entrance into heaven. The message is simple, our religiosity must be backed up by a spirituality or piety; love of God and man, following Christ and abiding by his dictates.
Furthermore, there are going to be surprises in heaven, for the standards of heaven are unlike those of this world. Those who are very prominent here: chairmen and presidents of Church councils, CMO, CWO, Church secretaries, choir masters, ministers of the word etc, may be nobody’s in heaven. The very rich and foremost of the world who live in classy houses, driving ‘posh’ cars, dressing elegantly, feeding sumptuously and living extravagant and flamboyantly, may find themselves in slums located at the outskirts of the heavenly city, living in dilapidated houses, peddling bicycles, dressing in rags and starving. On the other hand, the very insignificant Church member who has never been a PRO of any society and the poor who barely feed well may be living large in heaven. Matthew 20:16 and Luke 13:30 says, ‘those who are last will be first and those first will be last’.
May we willingly accept God’s discipline which means following the way of Christ, the way of suffering; for “whom God loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges” (Heb. 12:6). May we endure the pains that at the moment seem wearisome knowing that later, these pains will bring us the peaceful fruits of righteousness, (Heb. 12:11) – entry into heaven.
Therefore my brothers and sisters, up we go; the journey towards the narrow gate of heaven begins now, let us “strengthen our drooping hands and knees, make straight paths for our feet” (Heb. 12:12-13), that we travel quickly and perseveringly towards heaven. For this grace we pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
LIFE ITSELF IS A STRUGGLE; THOSE WHO DON’T STRIVE TO MAKE ENDS MEET ARE LIABLE TO FAIL!
FEED AND EDUCATE ONE