Saturday, January 26, 2013

Homily Sunday Week 3 Year C- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily Sunday Week 3 Year C- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6,8-10;Ps 19;8-10,15;1 Cor 12:12-30 and Luke 1:1-4;4:14-21

The Fruits of Our Shared Mission,

By our water of Baptism each of us: priest, religious lay faithful, men, women and children are called to participate in the mission of Christ. Mission that produces goodness, good taste for Scriptures, truth, love, authentic leadership, peace, forgiveness, moral teaching, nation building, unity in diversity, and spreading of the Gospel of life foreshadowed by the Story of God’s relationship with Israel in the OT, including what we have just heard from the text of Nehemiah today.

Nehemiah was not a priest, but a lay man. Like Ezra he was commissioned by the Persian king to return to Jerusalem and rebuild it socially, politically, religiously, economically, spiritually and scripturally. Put simply, as a lay man he was called to serve God at a time when the Israelite were resurfacing from their traumatic years in exile. Confused, subdued, oppressed people without their Davidic king and sense of national pride and security. Nehemiah stepped up to the scene. Even though a civil administrator he supports the priests with great zeal and demonstrates evangelizing and priestly qualities in every step on the way.

Besides devoting his time for God in prayer and showing good example in his leadership styles, he had great love and passion for the Holy Scriptures as a great means for evangelization and nation rebuilding. His mission was not only to reconstruct the broken physical fences of the city of Judah, but to revitalize a spiritual nation.

Along side, Ezra and the Levites he organized an outdoor, crusade and revivals, -- for public reading, teaching, and interpretation of the Bible.

Even though the audience, in the bible class there were people, men, women, children from different homes an section of Jerusalem, they were single-minded. They had the common but not a divided desire to hear the word of God (Neh 8:1-2). Their unity took precedence over everything other. Unlike the Corinthian Community and in the second reading ( I Cor 12:12-30) or modern day Christians , often divided in many issues. Nehemiah’s people were also very attentive and enthusiastic. They were responsive, submissive and teachable. The all said, “Amen, Amen.”

Hearing the word of God many of them began to weep. It exposes their brokenness, despair and faithlessness. Scripture exposes our sins and renews our friendship with God. Scriptures not only exposes our ignorant and selfishness, it widens our horizons. Hearing the word of God, Nehemiah’s students were encouraged to go back a share their bread with the poor. So Scripture opens our eyes to the needs and talents of others. It also guaranteed a replenish of our resources “Do not be saddened this day, for rejoicing in the Lord must be your strength” Nehemiah told the people.

Although Christ in the Gospel and Paul in 1 Corinthians 12, and even us in the 21st century are separated from Nehemiah by  hundreds and thousands of years, the problem he faced are not peculiar to the time of Nehemiah. Every age has its own needs similar to Nehemiah’s.

We are told in the Gospel of today how Christ came to Nazareth, where he had grown up and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day. There he read from the Scroll of Prophet Isaiah 61, which was handed over to Him:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to Lord….today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing,” Christ concluded.

Yes, for Christ, the poor, the needy, the blind, the oppressed must be helped and alleviated, and scriptures must be  read, taught and actualized even to a divided audience of our time .  A mission that Paull inherits .

For Paul , in the second reading, it was a divided church with all kinds of moral issues and abuse of spiritual gifts.
Like Nehemiah, Paul uses the familiar metaphor the” body” to remind his church,that, just as the nose would not say I don’t need the ear, the teeth,  the lungs,  the eyes,  or the entire head, the church community must learn from the unity of the human body. All parts of the body are important just as all section of the church, Priest, Religious, lay men and women, the youth, children.

We all have a mission to share with one another especially in our challenging times of pluralism, and conflicts among religious groups, terrorism, and Islamic militancy, threats of nuclear bombs, remnants of apartheid and drug trafficking, human rights abuse, discrimination of  all  kinds, and racism still raising ugly heads here and there.We all have a mission to share.

Vatican II Council recognizes this as well when she states in the Apostolicam actuositatem, Decree on the Apostolate of the Lay people that,

“The church was founded so that by spreading Christ’s kingdom throughout the world to the gory of God the Father, every man and woman may share in the saving work of redemption, and so that through them the entire world may be truly directed towards Christ. Every activity of the mystical body, with this in view, goes by the name of apostolate, which the church exercises through all its members, though in various ways… In the organism of the living body no part is passive… same is true in the body of Christ which is the Church, ‘when each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth’ (Eph 4:16)."

The  lessons and fruits of this shared mission from the time of Nehemiah, Christ and Paul, down to us, where ever we may be priviledged to serve in any capacity  be it civilly or religiously are: selflessness, search and promotion of common good, renunciation of sins, rejection of bad habits, contentment, unity in diversity, peace and joy.