YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 4TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
THEME: BEYOND THE HORIZONTAL
BY: Fr. Christian Eze
HOMILY: First reading – Jer 1:4-4. 17-19
Second reading – I Cor. 12:31-13:13
Gospel – Lk 4:21-30
Our lives are lived in two directions –the vertical and the horizontal directions. While the horizontal pertains to the things we can see around us, the vertical pertains to the Divine, the unseen God. The horizontal involves the world, but the vertical involves Heavens. The vertical is the source point of all that is good; it involves Divine interventions, while the horizontal is the distribution point of what has been given from above. It is a grave mistake to look only around the horizontal for the proper interpretation and understanding of everything before we believe. In difficult moments, there must be a time when we must learn to look beyond what we can see and touch, beyond what we had known to be the status quo; beyond the horizontal, if we must get help.
What the Jews in today’s gospel could not reconcile was how such gracious words could proceed from the mouth of the son of a common carpenter – “this is Joseph’s son surely?” – Mk 4:23. By these words of contempt and degradation, they were concentrated on the things they see around the horizontal – Joseph the carpenter, his son; and these appeared so common that nothing wonderful could be made out of it. I think they were not wrong; yes, but only as it concerned the horizontal. Yes, the things we find within the horizontal must not be relied upon for they can disappoint us at any time; and they must not scare us either, even when they appear terrifying. The meaning of our existence lies beyond the horizontal and that was the major error of the Jews. They never looked at Jesus save only their horizontal perception. And they lost many things.
Like the Jews, many of us live and interpreted their lives within the horizontal axis alone. They trust on, and seek help in what they can see around them – their political god-fathers, their brother or son living abroad, the fat bank account which they have amassed for themselves or which has been left for them as a patrimony. These are the things that they would remember and heave a sigh of relief. Sorry! Such is to be pitied. If we enjoy any good within the horizontal, we must acknowledge that such good must have come to us from above, within the vertical line. And we are bound to crash if we lose sight of this. Another great error is to get panicking when things on the horizontal breathe terror on us. In today’s first reading, God encouraged the prophet, Jeremiah to stand strong and fearless in the face of horizontal giants – Jer 1:8.
A lesson which Jesus wanted to teach them with examples from the 1 and 2 books of the Kings is that things change any moment we look beyond the horizontal. The Zeraphat woman once looked within the horizontal only – the jar of oil and the finished flour (1 Kg 17:12). Also, Naaman the leper once looked within the horizontal only – the Jordan River that was less attractive than the rivers of Damascus (11 kg 5:11). But when they looked beyond the horizontal, things changed. The oil of the woman never got spent, and the leprosy left Naaman. When we look beyond the horizontal, we encounter the power of God that changes things.