Saturday, February 5, 2011

Sixth Sunday of the Year C- Reflection by Fr. Michael Udoekpo

Six Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year C: Homily by Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
Readings: Jer 17:5-8; Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4, 6; 1 Cor 15:12, 16-20 and Luke 6:17, 20-26

True Happiness is found in God
Few Sundays ago we reflected on the spiritual significance of the nine beatitudes recorded in Matthew chapter 5:1-12a. Today we are presented with only four of them in Luke’s Gospel;
Blessed/Happy are you who are poor for yours is the Kingdom of God
Blessed/Happy are you who are hungry now for you will be filled.
Blessed/Happy are you who are now weeping for you will laugh
Blessed/Happy are you when people hate you… behold your reward is in heaven

 This Sermon of Christ on the Plain (Luke 6:17, 20-26) among other things remind us that true and everlasting happiness does not reside in riches but in humble obedience to doing the will of God. This is not to say that to be poor is a pleasant experience. Imagine if you are poor to the extent of not affording a meal, a cup of coffee, no roof over your head, no health insurance and medical bills, no job, no tuition fees for your kids etc. We are told those who listened to this Sermon were the Twelve whom he had just chosen (Luke 6:12-14).  Just as we have people from all parts of Holbrook in this church, A great crowd of the disciples and a large number of people from Jerusalem and Judea, were there listening to the sermon of Jesus.
 I believe some of them may have been richer than others. But most of them were really poor in the true sense of the word.  Many may not have yet recovered fully from the pains and losses they suffered during those years of exile and colonial domination. Some of them may have also read or heard about the difficult experiences and the courage of the prophets like Jeremiah, particularly the text of this worship, that those who endured and trust in the Lord to the end shall flourish like a tree planted at the bank of the river.
Jeremiah a contemporary of Zephaniah, Nahum and perhaps Habakkuk preached in a very difficult time- in the context of the last years of existence of Judah as an independent political entity. It was not long when many were killed, deported and exiled in Babylon. It is a clear context of poverty, suffering and denial of freedom and justice- called it is a context of economic, social, religious and political poverty. It is also a context where the rich Babylonians and their collaborators are filled to the detriment of the hungry people fled to exile. It is the context of the laughing Babylonian military compared to the weeping children of God on dragged to imprisonment of exile. Jesus audience would have been familiar with the messages of the Prophets or come across their scrolls.
 Part of Christ's audience, his disciples, shortly before this sermon had also left everything, including their fishing nets and families to follow Jesus, to join not only the ranks of the poor, but their mission like that of Jesus was going to be ministering healing, freedom, liberty to people of all walks of life including the poor (Luke 4:18) and the marginalized.
It is also hard to imagine correctly what went on in the minds of the listening audience of Christ.  Iam sure there must have been at least one hungry person in that gathering or someone who felt not being loved enough. And even the rich in the audience who listened to the woes: ‘woe to you who are rich, woe to you who are filled now, woe to you who is laughing now. Perhaps, their reactions might have ranged from anger, frustration, and anxiety with regard to their place in the Kingdom of God.
When we look around it is true that our wealth when they are ill- gotten or even when well gotten, when they are not well used can also be the source of our unhappiness or un-blessedness. Sometimes we are rich with electronic equipments and poor of good human touch and relationship. Sometimes I do not know how correct these statistics are, the happiest group of people on earth is not necessarily from the most industrialized and computerized nations.
I want to believe, Jesus’ Sermon in Lucan Beatitude is a reflection on Psalm 1. It is an important Psalm about what really makes one happy.  For me it is a summary of today’s message. It is by walking not in the counsel of the wicked. It is by making good choices in life. (The choice not to talk back to mummy or daddy. The choice to listen to my teacher. The choice to do my home work. The choice to bear the crosses of our various states of life patiently) But by keeping the Torah, trusting God always and walking and serving with humility in this life within the parameter of God’s love and his Kingdom values.  And this include having a sense social justice, living the corporeal and spiritual works of mercies and using with humility our wealth , our God’s given potential  for the common good, bringing hope to the hopeless,  feeding the hungry, supporting our social ministry in this parish for the greater glory of God.  This is who we become not only happy, but shall flourish like a tree planted near the running Stream (Ps1).
 Peace be with you.