YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 28TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: FUNDAMENTAL ACT OF FAITH
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: God’s benevolence is immeasurable! It is always far beyond the needs of men and women and often opens itself to us in ways that are beyond our human understanding. Divine benevolence is a mystery; it is simply grace! The proper response to grace is gratefulness. In being grateful and thankful, we manifest our faith and we keep the door of God’s benevolence wide open onto us and we, in turn, dispose ourselves to be filled with more of His graces. May we daily progress in gratefulness; Amen.
The story of Naaman in the First Reading of today (2 Kgs 5:14-17) shows us how God manifests His benevolence towards us His children. Sometimes, through things we consider very ordinary, God leads us to make extraordinary experiences of His power. This remains the secret of the power and the efficacy of the Church’s Sacraments and Sacramentals; outward signs of hidden graces and divine benevolence. This was the experience of Naaman as he “went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, as Elisha had told him to do. And his flesh became clean once more like the flesh of a little child.” In his earlier articulation, Naaman saw only the waters of the Jordan and never perceived the finger of God at work in the Jordan and this led him to begin natural comparisons as he forgot the distinction of grace. Naaman thought, “surely, Abana and Parpar, the rivers of Damascus, are better than any water in Israel?” (2 Kgs 5:12). He never understood the fact that God comes to us mostly through ordinary means. Surely, nature can equate many things to be on the same level, but grace distinguishes them. This accounts for the difference between the waters of baptism and the chilled water in the fridge; between the blessed oils of Chrism, of Catechumens and of Infirmorum and other types of oil you may find elsewhere, etc. Just as the power of God at work in the Jordan restored Naaman to health and newness of life, so also do the Sacraments lead us through the path of restoration and renewal. Therein lays the mystery of God’s operation in our midst. This mysterious nature of God’s benevolence can only but provokes gratefulness and thankfulness.
To be grateful and thankful connects Naaman to the Samaritan man that was also cured of leprosy in the Gospel Reading (Luke 17:11-19). Out of ten lepers that were cured, this Samaritan man distinguished himself by coming back to Jesus to give thanks. It is one thing to be a beneficiary of God’s benevolence! It is another thing to cultivate the right attitude! Being itself completely grace, God’s benevolence invites us to be grateful and thankful. This act of gratefulness and thankfulness is a fundamental act of faith. It takes a heart filled with faith to say a prayer of thanksgiving! Our ability to give thanks shows the quality of our faith in God and our commitment to Him. It is the power of this faith in God that inspires and strengthens us to let go of all other gods and to pitch our tent with the One True God like Naaman; “because your servant will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any god except the Lord.” It is through this faith that we are saved as we heard in those beautiful words of our Lord Jesus to the Samaritan man; “stand up and go on your way. Your faith has saved you.” It is this faith that guides us into the mysteries of our Lord Jesus Christ, “risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David” (2 Tim 2:8-13). It is this faith that leads us back to God the source of all graces and favours and benevolence with thankfulness and gratefulness. In our daily living, the readings of today invite us to cultivate the virtue of gratefulness and thankfulness; not just to God as the source of goodness, but also to our brothers and sisters and friends. A heart that is not grateful and thankful is not grace-filled! A faith that is not grateful and thankful is not redemptive! In thankfulness and gratefulness we orient ourselves on to salvation!
May our daily experience of your graciousness and benevolence, Lord, deepen our faith in You and open the entirety of our being in thanksgiving to You; Amen. Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE