BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE


HOMILY: By sincerely and humbly looking into ourselves, we discover our defects and how long is the distance between us and God. By courageously confronting ourselves with the light of the Gospel, we successfully prune ourselves of our defects and become more illumined by the Light of Christ, and by so doing become sources of illumination for those around us and leading them to Christ as well by the light from our lives. May God help us to see and realise how wounded we are by ourselves and lead us through the path of conversion of the self; Amen.

As we are gradually approaching the Season of Lent, the readings are gradually reminding and introducing us into some of the disciplines that are very necessary for a fruitful Lenten observance. In this regard, the Gospel Reading (Luke 6:39-45) of today edifies us with many insightful and thought-provoking teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ on the need for constant self retrospection, self formation and self correction. Sometimes we concentrate on others and their shortcomings that we forget that we ourselves are heavy carriers of defects and imperfections. In fact, over concentration on the shortcomings of others could be a form of spiritual sickness, especially when not inspired by Christian charity and when our observations and criticisms never challenge us to become better human beings. Over concentration on the lives of others could sometimes make us blind to ourselves and stunted in our own spiritual growth. Against this anomaly, Jesus reminds us today “Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own? …Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter that is in your brother’s eye.” This is something we must take to heart so as to witness the power in self retrospection, formation and correction. This is indispensable because we are the ones who can change ourselves! Only then do we truly become sound trees that produce sound fruits and good men and women that bring forth good from the store of goodness in us.

Parts of the things that we bring forth from within us are our words. Words are means of communication and they are very indispensable in our communication with God and with one another. Towards God, our words are often in the form of prayers, either of adoration, contrition, thanksgiving or supplication. Towards fellow creatures, our words can also take a variety of forms. In all of its forms, our words not only help to build up, they can also destroy and cause war. A lot of persons have destroyed all they worked hard to build because of the words that came forth from their mouth. A lot more have lost the path that would have led them to success because of the missiles on their tongue and in their speech. Much more still, the words we speak, sometimes, to a great extent define us and unveil the secrets of our hearts because ex abundantia cordis os loquitur – from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. To caution us on this path, the First Reading (Ecclesiasticus 27:5-8) instructs us “the defects of a man appear in his talk … do not praise a man before he has spoken, since this is the test of men.” One’s speech could be the only means available to evaluate one’s makeup; hence, whatever is worth saying is worth saying well! Sometimes the words we speak lose their worth and the positive effects they should evoke because of the manner they were said! This is also valid in our prayers to God. Sometimes constructive criticisms that should lead to further growth and improvement bring about disintegration and recession because we fail to recognise and respect the thin line between criticism and insult. This is a lived experience among us; in our families, places of work and studies and in our places of worship. Hence, as Jesus invites us to look into ourselves, we have another opportunity to re-evaluate ourselves in this regard, cautioning ourselves on the manner of the words we speak because sometimes, without intending or wanting to do so, we have inspired war and hate and unnecessary and destructive attacks on ourselves because of the words we used to convey the good we intended; becoming hidden and, sometimes, unnoticed instigators of our own problems. In all of these, change is possible! We have the capacity to always change for good irrespective of how difficult it may seem as a result of habit or self deformation. Like Saint Paul admonishes in the Second Reading (I Cor 15:54-58) “never admit defeat; keep on working at the Lord’s work always” because the Lord wants also the conversion of the self. The first step to this path of formation of the self is to first recognise that words are powerful and can either build or destroy. The second step is the consciousness of the fact that what is worth saying is worth being well said. The third is to ask for the grace to make daily progress in this regard with the certainty that “in the Lord, you cannot be labouring in vain.”

Lord, help us to look into ourselves always, correcting our defects and forming ourselves after the New Man Jesus Christ. Help us to say what is needful at all times and in a manner that enlightens and builds up and may your grace lead us to conversion!

Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE



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