Saturday, October 11, 2014

Homily (2) 28th Sunday Year A: Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) 28th Sunday Year A: Michael U. Udoekpo
 Readings: Isa 25: 6-10a; Ps 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5-6; Phil 4:12-14, 19-20 and Matt 22:1-14

My Shepherd is the Lord,

Today we gather to celebrate and renew our trust, our power of positive thinking and our readiness in the Divine King and Shepherd, whose protecting, caring and feeding imageries run through the readings of today.  As the Lord protects, cares and feeds us, he invites us to imitate him by doing likewise to our neighbors.

In the first reading, the Good Shepherd addresses words of hope to the frightened community of Israel through the mouth of his Prophet, Isaiah. Even though the enemies will momentarily overrun and humiliate Israel, and perhaps destroy the temple, the Lord will surely be at the mercy of the remnant, who put their covenantal trust in Him. The "will" here points to the future hope. God’s time is the best. At his appointed time, the Lord will destroy the veil that veils all peoples. The veils of sadness and hopelessness. The veils of frustrations and rivalries.  He will wipe away the tears of sorrow, humiliation and illnesses from the faces of those who put their trust in Him. He will rebuild the mountain once destroyed, restore and provide food for those once starved. He will invite to a banquet those once ignored.

It is this hope, this trust, this call for endurance that Paul  re-emphasis to the Church Philippians in the Second Reading. Paul knows how to manage in all circumstances, in his missionary travels, in his trials, in his rejections, in his poverty and needs. In bad times and in good times. He knows the secret of being well fed as well as how to endure hunger. For him, “he can do all things in Christ who strengthen him.” 

It is this spirit of trust and garment of readiness that the Good Shepherd expects  in those invited to the wedding feast, the banquet of today’s Gospel's parable (Matt 22:1-14). In this parable some of the invitees ignored the king. Some refuse to come, while some invented all kinds of excuses to justify their absence. Even some who were not interested in responding killed the servant messengers- of the king; while among those who responded, one had no wedding garments. Perhaps, he took the banquet  for granted. Of course, with the directives of the king, the shepherd, he was bound hands and feet and thrown into the darkness for wailing and gridding of teeth. 

 Be it in this Gospel parable, provider of the banquets  or in the shepherd metaphors of  these other readings, God treats us as a traditional near eastern good shepherds would treat their sheep. They provide food, and water for them. Sometimes they have to search for their foods. They protect them from wolves. Put a fence around them. These flocks trust their shepherds and listen to them, though instinctually. 

 Today we are faced with all types of challenges such as poverty, Ebola and HIV threats, war and terrorism, especially from Boko Haram and ISIS. We have also issues of climate change, economic disparities, political and racial tensions in sections of our societies. 

 Thank God we are blessed not only with instinct, but with higher reason and faith. We have every reason to make  necessary good choices in our lives. Even though the road or path to good choices may be rough,  with the lessons and experiences of the biblical exodus, the covenant relationship, the land, and the process of settlement, God is constantly watching over us. He is constantly cooking for us. All he wants from us is that spirit of a positive  and imitative response. He wants us to be ready with the right garments of  love,  faith and trust in his eternal banquet of Love, and in his everlasting feasts of Peace, Mercy and Care. He wants us to be convinced that we can do all things in Christ who strengthens us (Phil 4:12-14), and that the Lord is our Shepherd there is nothing we shall want (Ps, 23, Jer 23, Eze 34; John 10).