Saturday, September 24, 2016

Homily for 26th Sunday of Year C: Fr. Udoekpo, Michael

Homily for 26th Sunday of Year C: Fr. Udoekpo, Michael
·         Amos 6:1a,4-7
·         Ps 146:7-10
·         1 Tim 6:11-16
·         Luke 16:19-31

Acting to Ease the Sufferings of others-especially the Poor
Today we live in a world of “you are on your own attitude,” what Pope Francis would call “globalization of Indifference.” There are recorded violent on the street, political corruption in many political capitals, religious abuses in  some worship centers, the poor, and the weak, “the Lazaruses,” the voiceless and family values neglected. Today’s readings is a reminder of what each of us, political class and religious people,  must do to ease the sufferings of our neighbors, of our family members, of my colleague, of my spouse, of my friend and of the poor- “the Lazaruses” of our towns and neighborhood.
These were the concerns of the Prophet of today’s 1st reading. A lay man, a famer, a cattle breeder, Amos responded to God’s call from Tekoa, south of Jerusalem to preach to the kings, and the priests – the political and corrupt religious establishment in the north, who were complacent and indifferent to the plight of their poor brothers and sisters, of their time- the 8th century BC.

Amos says, woe to the complacent in Zion! Lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches, they eat lambs taken from the flock and calves from the stall,” when the majority poor were staffing. They also waste drinks. The wealthy drank, not from ordinarily wine glasses, but from bowls, when others were suffocated by thirstiness. They, the rich, anoint themselves with oil, when the rest of the house of Joseph/Ephraim/Israel were suffering. The word of God is ever alive. Many of us can relate to this from various nation capitals- where the gap between the rich political and religious leaders, and the poor is daily expanding.
In the time of Saint Paul, as noted in the 2nd reading, 1 Timothy 6, - false teachings were floated, to the disadvantage of poor members of the community. As in the time of Amos there were rivalries, insults, evil suspicions and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, deprived of the truth, and who thought religion was a means for material gains ( 1 Tim 6:3-6). Paul says to Timothy, “you man of God,” referring to religious leaders, “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness,’ (vv.11-16), essential qualities of biblical spirituality: righteousness ( sadeqah), justice( misphat), truth ( emet), kindness (chesed), steadfastness (emunah), needed not only by selected preachers, but by every man and woman of God!

But, remember, this is not the first time the expression “man of God “is used in the Bible. We heard in Deut 33:1 with reference to Moses, as Israel’s prophet.  In 1 Sam 2:27 God sent a man of God to speak to Eli, when his children were abusing the temple. In 1 Kings 12-13, an unknown man of God is sent from Judah, to address the sins of Jeroboam- corruption, idolatry and disobedience to the Lord. A man of God, is God’s prophet, and messenger! A woman of God, a child of God, is God’s prophetess and messenger.
How often, or easy is it, sometimes for us to blame the neglect of the poor only on the political establishment. We are all, in our own capacities, called to be prophets and prophetess, men and women of God, who assist in easing the burden and the suffering of the poor our society, today- in various ways, no matter how little, show that little kindness, especially to the poor- and the “Lazaruses”.

This is what Jesus truly meant to communicate in today’s Gospel parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Notice, in this parable, how many times did the rich man not ignore the poor man, Lazarus. Notice, the clothing, the behavior, the food, the wine of the rich man. He was like the rich of the time of Amos. These things are not new, Corruption has always been there. But, on the judgment day, Lazarus is saved while the rich man is condemned.

Each of us, men, women of God, political elites, religious people, can easily inherit eternal life through the means in which we respond to the needs of one another; through the way in which we actively act daily to alleviate the sufferings of our neighbors, and the “Lazaruses” of our communities!