YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF LENT
THEME: DID I HEAR YOU BOAST?
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
HOMILY: First reading – Ex. 3:1-8a. 13-15
Second reading – 1 Cor. 10:1-6. 10 -12
Gospel – Lk. 13:1-9
I acquired driving skills at the age of twelve. Yes, I was close to my elder brother who was an automobile mechanic by profession; and this too gave me an additional knowledge of vehicle maintenance. When I gained admission into the Seminary, with such skills and driving experience over years, I was made the student driver. I did this noble function in the Seminary for a period of nine years (from my second year to the eleventh year). Remarkably, I never scratched someone else’ car on the road, neither did I ever dent the Seminary car for the many years I was in this function. I was a very careful driver as could be noted by almost everyone. I obeyed traffic laws and observed road signs. I knew each vehicle so well as to give it the required maintenance and at when due. With “experiences” I maneuvered through many difficult circumstances. I remember having gone to fetch water on a serious need with the seminary water tanker (911) that had no brakes at all. In fact, I tried so well that I also believed I was the best in history. One day, my assistant, a seminarian and a close friend went out on an errand with the school pick up van and drove home without one of the rear lights. It had fallen off on the road. My thoughts were: he must have been over-speeding, so careless that the lights fell off without his knowledge. May be he drove “James Bond”; why was he not constant on the rear and side mirrors to know what happened behind. It was all his faults I thought to myself. Thank God I didn’t say it out.
Then came the days I was humbled.
I was already a deacon. Returning from Benue state with my director in his newly bought Peugeot 406 which I drove, a very big goat ran across the road at a close range. I tried my best to avoid it but couldn’t because I was on a speed of about 120km/h. I so dangerously hit the goat damaging items worth N135, 000 in the new car. I was speechless as I couldn’t believe it was I. As if this was not enough, just one year after, I was given a ’97 Toyota Camry as my ordination present. I was returning from Enugu to Ogun state. It was just a pool of water on the road that I suddenly jumped into. It slipped me off the road, again at a speed of 120km/h. Consequently, I somersaulted severally into a ditch. It was so fatal an accident that I lost the car entirely.
Thank God I was not hurt. But where were all my pride as Christian Eze the great driver and the talented mechanic? I was humbled.
Today in the gospel, people came to Jesus to report the calamities that has befallen others – the slaughtered Galileans and those slain by collapsed tower of Siloam. Just as I thought it was due to my carefulness and great talents that I scaled through hazards for nine years in the seminary, these people had thought to themselves that their own lives have been spared because they had been more carful or more righteous than those who were doomed. Like me when I was ignorant, and the Jews who came to Jesus, many of us attribute their success stories to their own efforts and carefulness. This is a wrong understanding of life which Jesus pointed out today. If we were spared where others got hooked up, if we succeeded where our colleagues failed, if any good come to us; it is all God’s grace and never our efforts. That you got married before your mates should not mean that you were more beautiful and well mannered. That you got the job before others does not necessarily mean they were asleep while you worked hard. When someone else had not made it in life, we must not always think he hadn’t made enough efforts. We note that in the first reading, after God had told Moses the marvels He was about doing, and Moses asked to know God’s name, the name I Am who I Am was given. Indeed, what I see here is: when you see all these marvels, then know that I Am He who has done all these for you. Look around and see. You got that job? I Am He who gave you and no other. You got that husband? I Am He who gave you. What is it that you boast of? I Am the one who gave and did all these for you. Finally, we must owe all our success stories to the I Am and avoid pride which goes before fall. St Paul in the second reading tells us to watch our pride – “He who thinks that he stands so firm, let him take heed lest he falls” – 1 Cor. 10:12.
If not the “I Am” where could I have been, in spite of my expertise?