Friday, November 2, 2012

Homily 31st Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily 31st Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Deut 6:2-6; Ps 18:2-4, 47, 51 Heb 7:23-28 and Mark 12:28b-38

Christ- Ultimate Love- his Sacrifice

In the Gospel reading of today one of the Scribes approached Jesus to find out which commandments was the greatest. Whatever his intension was Jesus refers him to the first reading of today.

Shema! “Hear, O Israel, The Lord is our God, the Lord alone! Therefore, you shall love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin you today.” (Deut 6:2-6) And of course Jesus adds, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:28b-34).

This fundamental ethics of Christian living goes back to Judaism and touches on other religions. Love of God and neighbor is a delight of many Apostles, Evangelists, theologians, pastors and spiritual mentors, homilists, preachers down the ages.

Paul stresses on this in 1 Corinthian chapter 7. Matthew 25 says ‘whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers or sisters so you do onto me.” In 2005 Pope Benedict XVI began his papacy with the Encyclical Deus Caritas est (God is Love). And John 3:16 , “ for God so love the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but have eternal life,” remains one of the most memorable or quoted passages in the Bible. 

Uncountable illustration of love and sacrifices have also been documented or drawn from the live of the saints and  stressed in the Cathechism and seasonal teachings of the Church, including the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Even when we live in  a noisy age where the language of love is used in different senses, in  the commercials and media outlets, people, including family members, children, men and women, workers in factories, companies,  students and teachers in schools and other jobs still know the true love of God that Jesus emphasizes in the scriptures. They include, patience, charity, tolerance, forgiveness, humility,  putting others first, looking out for one another, watching your neibors back, endurance, obedience, respect for our parents, for the dignity of women, children, the poor and people of all walks of live.

Sometimes we take ordinary listening for granted. God says today “listen” ‘hear O Israel.” Listening to God and  putting his words, precepts into practice is a sign of love, especially in a noisy world of ours today. Think of the music, the sounds of the trains, airplanes, cars, trucks, music, movies and sports and busy nature of our jobs. Sometimes we are distracted. Sometimes we are carried away by politics. We have very little time for our neighbors; talk less of sacrificing anything other thing- food, money, clothing, for the poor and the needy.

Complete opposite of the Christ, the high priest of the Letter to the Hebrews! He is attentive to everyone, especially the poor and the weary. He loves us and he is willing to sacrifice everything he has for us, including his life on the cross- ultimate sacrifice! Ultimate obedience to the Father! Ultimate love for us!

For all that God has done for us through his Son we want to reciprocate by listening to him, by holding that elevator door for our seniors, by listening to one another, our children, our spouses, by reaching out to the poor members of our communities, the “hurricane, earthquake, and war victims,” by visiting those in prison, by reaching out to the sick, those in hospice, by loving our neighbors, Jews and Gentiles, no matter what they look like, or where they come from,  regardless of gender, age, height, poor or rich, just as God has first loved us and sacrificed for us immeasurably.