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Homily for fifteenth Sunday C

12 Jul 2019, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

Jesus and the lawyerToday, our gospel reading opens with a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and asked; Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus’ interaction with this lawyer led to the parable of the good Samaritan. Most people pay so much attention to this parable, and it is not bad anyway. But this morning, I would like us to focus more on the lawyer who thought he was wise or more intelligent than God to disconcert Jesus with his question.

I have often heard the police say to suspects at the point of arrest that he (suspect) has the right to remain silent, or whatever he says or does may be used against him in the court of law. That is what the lawyer in our gospel passage this morning wanted to do to Jesus, to make him do or say something that may be used against him. He came to Jesus not because he loves him, not because he wanted to be a follower or a believer but because he wanted to disconcert him. He planned to confuse Jesus to make him say what could be used against him, to upset and embarrass him. He asked a very beautiful question, a question every Christian should ask; Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life? The question was asked with a very wrong motive, a beautiful question with a trap underneath.

Today, so many people come to Jesus for various purposes. In the gospel, according to John 6:22-26, the Jews looked for Jesus; they came to him after they had been fed. They did not come to disconcert him but to be fed again with bread that lasts not, but Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. That was their reason; they came to Jesus as the new Moses to provide bread and not as Jesus who gives eternal life. We must define why we follow Jesus; he demanded that definition from two of John the Baptist’s disciples. They were standing with John the Baptist, their master when Jesus walked past, and John saw him and said, “Behold the Lamb of God.” When the two disciples heard him say that, they followed Jesus. But Jesus turned and asked why they were following him (Jn. 1:38). We must have reason or reasons for following Jesus, and so we ask ourselves, why are we following Jesus? Why do we come to him? why are we here this morning?

Many people come to Jesus to test him like the lawyer in our gospel passage this morning, they have tried other means, and now they come to Jesus simply as another option without faith. Let’s try him, they say, but we don’t put the Lord to the test. We don’t try Jesus, but we believe in Jesus. We come to him not as another option but as the only way, the truth, and the life.

Some people follow Jesus to hide their true identity, to deceive others. They belong to the world of darkness but pretend to be after eternal life just like that lawyer. They are wolves in sheepskin. They hide under the cover of Christianity to steal, to destroy, and to kill. Some others follow Jesus for miracles, to be fed again like the Jews. A true believer takes his cross and follows; in good and in bad times, he trusts, and he follows. He sees everyone around him as neighbors and not asking who his neighbors are the lawyer in our gospel passage tried to do. He asked Jesus, who is my neighbour?

The lawyer’s first question was to disconcert Jesus, while the second question was to justify himself because he realized he disconcerted himself. A lawyer is expected to be an expert in the law, but this lawyer failed in that regard. Moses clearly stated in the law that we must obey the voice of the Lord.

Our first reading this morning shows that the law is not far from anyone; one must not cross the sea or ocean to get it; it is written in our hearts. So, when the lawyer asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus indirectly reminded him that as a lawyer, he is expected to know what the law says, and also that the law is available to all; it is written in our hearts.

Jesus said to the lawyer, “what is written in the law?” The lawyer answered correctly, to love God and our neighbours. The love of God and neighbour is necessary to access the salvation Christ already won for us; that is what he made the lawyer understand, that he must love God and his neighbour if he is to inherit eternal life. But the lawyer asked, “who is my neighbour?” He did not ask this question because he really wanted to know who his neighbours are, but he was anxious to justify himself. When you tell one lie, you tell many more to cover the first one if you are unrepentant. The lawyer did not come to Jesus because he was interested in eternal life but disconcert him.

Let us, therefore, ask ourselves again; why are we in his presence this morning? Why do we follow him? Are we with him to disconcert him? Are we in search of miracle? SincerityAre we following him for selfish reasons? St. Paul tells us in our second reading that Jesus is the head of the Church and that all things were created through him and for him. If all things were created through him and for him, then you and I were created through him and for him. We follow him for who he is; our Lord and master, every other thing is mere addition. Therefore, we are called today to be sincere in our relationship with God, which translates into love for neighbour. Christianity is a religion of relationship, relationship with God, and with neighbours in faith.

  • James Nkem Reply

    Thank you Padre, for your awesome write-ups. Truly, I find them very helpful to the growth of my christian (catholic) faith.
    Indeed, “…you are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Heb. 7:17)