Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Homily 19th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily 19th Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: 1 Kings 19:4-8; Ps 34:2-9; Eph 4:30­-5:2 and John 6:41-51

Walking in Love to the Mountain of God

Prophet Elijah in today’s first reading flees into the wilderness. He is fleeing from terrible things, bad things, from the retaliation of Queen Jezebel (cf. 1 Kings 18). Because Jezebel’s Baal’s prophets are slaughtered. It’s going to be a long walk, a long, rough, rugged journey and run for Elijah. But as things would turn out, the Angel of the shows up, and provides Elijah with food and water, just as God had provided for  the Israelite  last Sunday (Exod 16:35), in the desert. Strengthened by this food Elijah is able to walk forty days and forty nights up to the mountain of God (Horeb or Sinai).

This is the same mountain that Moses would receive the 10 commandments (Exodus 19:16ff). It is a Holy Place, and a traditional place we encounter God. It is an important place for all Christians, all of us, including historians and archaeologist and those who read and study the Bible with faith.

Some of us may have seen the documentary “Search for Real Mount Sinai,” by Bob Cornuke and Larry Williams- two explorers, who set out looking for Mount Sinai. According to this documentary, the search takes them to Saudi Arabia. Like the Israelite and Elijah in the desert it is a rough journey for them. They have to secretly cross the border into a Muslim country, Saudi Arabia, avoid being detected by the security agents, police and army. They had no weapons, little food and water, but they had their Bible.

Our faith journeys are like these journeys. They are very long walks atimes. But our destination is God’s mountain, seeking the face of God, through the Church, and with the help of one another. It could be long in walking (halak), doing, keeping our faith. Can you imagine living the 10 commandments, keeping all our vows (marriages and celibacy), living the Sacraments through which we encounter God, keeping the teachings of the church, and carrying out all our corporal and spiritual works of mercy? What about raising our kids, paying our bills, loving our neighbors, keeping all the doctors appointment, carrying out all our civil and familial responsibilities (paying our taxes), without trampling on our neighbors’ right and  their freedom; the right of  parents and children, women and men, the rich and the poor! And respecting other people’s culture and religion!

Put differently, when we wake- up in the morning we are on this journey. When we love we are on this journey. When there is misunderstanding, rift among us, we are still on this journey. When we seek reconciliation, unity we are on this journey. When we work hard in school and in our places of work we are on this journey. when we love, respect one another, old and young, poor and rich, and forgive our spouses, friends and those who have offended us we are on this journey. When we work for peace and love we are on this journey. When we make mistakes, stumble, wake -up and return to God, with His special grace, we are on this journey. No one says this journey  to the mountain of God would ever be easy.

It is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work and long walk. Sometimes we are hungry and thirsty on the way, like Elijah and like these two explorers. Sometimes we are frustrated! Sometimes we are disappointed! As we take this long Christian walk, a much deeper and spiritual walk, we would always need the living food, Christ, whom we celebrate at each Eucharistic worship (John 6:41-51). He is love, patience and peace.He is not dead. He is active in us. He walks with us.  It becomes easy when we walk with God. He is the source of all the perseverance we need. He is the bread of faith, the bread  hope and the bread of  eternal life.

St. Paul knows this very well when he addresses us in Ephesians 4: 30-5:2 in the following words;

“Brothers and sisters do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.”  For Paul, this is how we must walk to the mountain of God.This is how we are invited to live our christian faith.