HOMILY FOR THE THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME (YR A) JANUARY 26, 2019.
Ps 27:1, 4, 13-14
1 Cor 1:10-13, 17
Mathew 4:12-23 OR 4:12-17
Ignorance of the Scriptures, is ignorance of Christ.–St. Jerome
My dearest friends in Christ. I welcome you to the table of God’s refreshing and enlightening words. May His word be a light in the darkness of your lives. Today we celebrate a special Sunday recently declared by his holiness as the SUNDAY OF THE WORD OF GOD (every 3rd sun. in ordinary time). Today we enthrone the word of God in our lives and acknowledge its centrality in our Christian formation, lives, and values.
Although translated and re-translated into many vernacular versions from its Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic original language, the word of God remains unaltered. Although the Pentecostals rejected many books(Deuterocanonical) as non- inspired leading to incomplete Pentecostal version(e.g. the KJV ), the BIBLE REMAINS WORD OF GOD AND EMBODIES THE TRUTH OF LIFE. IT REMAINS A STANDARD (CANON) FOR MEASURING HOW OUR LIVES CONFORMS TO, OR CONTRADICTS THE ETERNALLY REVEALED TRUTH. I encourage you to read and reflect on your bible daily as you to visit Facebook and WhatsApp, Instagram and etc. If you don’t have a bible, you are like a car driving on a foggy night without fog lights on. Be careful otherwise you crash.
It is not a coincidence that St. Paul in the second reading of today laments about the rivalry and division among the Corinthians. The Corinthians were divided along the line of their preachers: Apollos who is a contemporary of Paul and who played a significant role in the establishment of the church in Corinth and Paul himself. The division is such that many call themselves disciples of Apollos and others that of Paul. The attitude of the Corinthian Christians, is very much alive today in Christianity. Many pastors unlike Paul, are becoming more famous than Christ himself and creating unnecessary tension and division in Christendom, mostly for material benefits. Fr. Ehusani would say that the Christianity of today is so strange that neither Christ nor His disciples would recognize it. We live in an age where the number of the congregation determines how powerful the man of God is and how rich the collections therefrom will be. I pity and pray for this generation.
Paradoxically speaking the interpretation of the word of God has been a major source of division in Christendom. This is largely due to the fact that many preachers left the word of God and are preaching their human wisdom( the word of men) and showcasing their eloquence in a very competitive manner. That is why many scientific speculations, probabilistic predictions, and inferential guesses now qualify as a prophecy. Instead of unifying all men with God’s word, they are further causing divisions. If we all preach the word of God and live by it, then restoring unity is an easy task. Religious division is the worse form of it. Paul made it clear that Christ is never divided, so we must not be divided because of Christ. We are followers of Christ and not that of any popular preacher. God’s word is never contradictory, so preachers should stop contradicting themselves on the basis of God’s word. All the contradictions in preaching today stem from human misinterpretations. “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.(cf 2 Pet 1:20-21)
Let us call to mind at this point the unique qualities that characterized the life of the early Christian community in Acts 2. Let us be united in the preaching and sharing of the word of God; in the breaking of the bread; in fellowship (koinonia) and in prayers. These four marks are what we need to remain united in a divisive world. St Augustine reminds us: “In what is necessary, unity; in what is not necessary, liberty and in all things charity.”
The first reading contains the prophetic reference to Christ as the Light that dispels darkness. Matthew wanted his readers to recognize that the Light of which Isaiah spoke had finally appeared with the coming of Jesus.
In the Gospel, Matthew explains that what Isaiah prophesied has been fulfilled through the preaching and healing ministry of Jesus. By his ministry of inviting people to the Kingdom of God through repentance, Jesus has brought Light to peoples living in darkness, thus fulfilling God’s original promise. In addition, the Gospel describes the call of the first disciples (4:18-22), and Jesus’ own preaching, teaching, and healing ministry which has led people to repent of their sins and accept the Good News of God’s rule (the Kingdom of God). He has also chosen ordinary fishermen with no formal training in Mosaic Law to preach the Good News, and they have been very effective instruments in the hands of the Holy Spirit, continuing Jesus’ mission to the world. Yes, the first disciples had no formal training in biblical exegesis or scriptures. God empowered them and they remained faithful to their calling. They preached and taught only the wisdom of God and not their own wisdom. We are privileged to receive the word of God in its purity and truth, thanks to these faithful witnesses. The spontaneity of their response to their calling is deeply challenging to us. They abandoned their profession to take up a new job for God. We all must not be pastors of a church, but we are all called to be faithful witnesses in word and action. Let us respond to God’s call with the same spontaneity as the first disciples, never to allow anything to be a distraction on our way.
We need to appreciate our call to be Christ’s disciples: Every one of us is called by God, both individually and as Church members, to be His disciple. The call is both a privilege and a responsibility. The mission of preaching, teaching, and healing which Jesus began in Galilee is now the responsibility of the Church and of each individual Christian.
Let us heal the world by fostering unity at every level and whatever means available to us especially with the word of God. To be a true Christian is to live beyond any form of rivalry or division. Many are divided along religious lines due to doctrines. But must religion also be an instrument of division? No. It is time to rise up and reclaim our common patrimony as God’s Children irrespective of our religious beliefs. Just as the division is the greatest threat to unity, love is the greatest antidote to division.
May the word of God unite us . May Christ’s prayer for unity in John 17:21 come to realization in our world. May His light shine in the darkness of our lives, so we can be saved.
I keep you and your family always in my prayers.
Keep reading and reflecting daily on the bible. If you are a Catholic don’t forget to buy any of these versions: 1. The New Jerusalem Bible which is mostly used in the liturgy. The New Revised standard version which is mostly used for teaching in schools. The Good news and other editions which are simplified for easy comprehension, for personal and community devotionals. Please ensure that the bible you buy has the deuterocanonical books for a more complete version. God bless you.
©Clem C Aladi.