Homily  23rd Sunday Year C: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo· Wisdom 9:13-18b;
· Ps 90:3-6, 12-17;
· Philm 9-10, 12-17;
· Luke 14:25-33
Like Mother Teresa: What it takes to be the Disciple of Christ
Today we celebrate the 23rd Sunday of Year C, in the ordinary season. We gather around the table of the Lord, who is our rock and refuge (Ps 90:1), according to the Psalmist. Fortunately, today, our Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, familiar to all of us( because of her charitable works, simplicity of life style, compassion for the poor, the sick, the needy and the homeless children), is recognized as a saint, in the Vatican, in the universal Church, by Pope Francis. The Life of Saint Mother Teresa, be it, in poverty, in chastity, in obedience in detachment from riches, power and worldliness, a life of faith, empathy for the poor, inclusiveness of everyone and total abandonment to the will of God, echoes also in today’s Bible readings.
By the time today’s 1st reading, the Book of Wisdom was written – perhaps fifty Years before the coming of Christ, human wisdom, human control and enslavement of others, wealth and power were regarded as the highest good. Justice, kindness, charitable works, care for the homeless and orphans, the type that mother Teresa and her missionary sisters embraced were not common- particularly in the communities of exiled and post exilic Jews. In these communities there were elements of arrogance, struggle for power, neglects of spiritual matters, pursuits of false wisdom, corruption, and oppression of women, children, elderly and the voiceless. For the author of the Book of Wisdom God’s ways are not our ways. Even though none of us can fathom the mind of God, one thing we are sure of is that God seeks out for us. He wishes us well. He is and will always be our refuge. Salvation History proves this (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greek Roman.…). Therefore, we out to always see life through the prism of faith, like Mother Teresa, like Saint Paul.
Writing from the Roman prison Paul in today’s 2nd reading advices Philemon his friend to pardon and take Onesimus back as his friend and brother in Christ Jesus, but no longer as a slave. Even though this seems to be the ancient practice in the Covenant Code, as recorded in Exodus 21, that is slavery, maltreatment of women, children and others. it should no longer be the case in the in the new Law, in the second law. For example, Moses warned the Israelites in Deuteronomy 15:15 to be humane and charitable to others, since they themselves were once slaves in the land of Egypt. The more reason the same Paul who wrote to Philemon in the 2nd reading wrote in Galatian 4:7 we are no longer slaves but adopted sons, daughters, brothers and sisters in Christ .
Detachment from human control, enslavement of others, power, and material things makes us brothers and sisters and better Disciples of Christ, like Mother Teresa of Calcutta. The more reasons Christ says in today’s Gospel “anyone who does not renounce all his possessions… [friends, parents, material things] cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:25-33).
The question for us then in this Year of Mercy, on this very day of the canonization of Mother Teresa is: What stops us from following Christ? What stops us from imitating the footsteps of Mother Teresa of Calcutta? What prevents us today from reaching out to the poor, the orphans, the needy, and the less-privileged of our world? What stops us from forgiving those who may have offended us? What stops us from living our vows of chastity, poverty and obedience? What prevents us from living our catholic faith? What prevents us from giving up our old bad habits? What do we possess that prevents us from doing charitable works like mother Teresa? What prevents us from being compassionate like Mother Teresa? May we pray for ourselves, the church and our communities today, and keep these faith challenges in mind as we proceed to celebrate the Holy Eucharist. Asking Saint Mother Teresa to intercede for us!