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Homily for the Fourth Sunday in ordinary time year C

29 Jan 2022, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons
Preacher Teaching from Bible

God called Jeremiah and commissioned him to proclaim the gospel to a society that has turned its back on the truth. And Jeremiah knew what that meant; to speak the truth to kings and queens, princes and princesses, to nations and kingdoms. God sent him to point out to the low and high their wrongdoings. So, Jeremiah said, “Ah, Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to Jeremiah, ‘Before I formed you in the I womb I knew you,  and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” In other words, do not fear, do not break down before the people I send; I have made you a fortified city, undefeatable.

One would not blame the prophet Jeremiah for expressing fear, for trying to avoid the mission to which he has been called. God commissioned the prophet Jeremiah to tell the world what the world is not ready to hear, and Jeremiah knew the consequences of telling the world the truth. John the Baptist told King Herod the fact, and John found himself in prison and then beheaded. The same fate we see in the ministry of Jesus; Jesus returned to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He went into the synagogue, and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah from where he read; the spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for he has anointed me. “He has sent me to bring the good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, to proclaim the Lord’s year of favor. The people listened to him as he assured them of his blessings and healing power, he won the approval of all, and they were astonished by the gracious words that came from his lips. They were happy with him as long as he promised the fulfillment of healing, liberation, miracles, and the Lord’s year of favor; they found nothing wrong with him. But they were provoked to anger the very moment Jesus told them the truth and exposed their lack of faith. “Everyone in the synagogue was enraged. They sprang to their feet and hustled him out of the town, and they took him up to the brow of the hill their town was built on, intending to throw him down the cliff, but he slipped through the crowd and walked away.”

Jeremiah knew the people could rise against him for speaking the truth, so he tried to avoid the mission. Jeremiah felt threatened by the hostility that comes to anyone who dares proclaim the true gospel to a generation that has turned its back on God; his excuse was, “Ah, Lord, I do not know how to speak; I am only a boy.” But Jeremiah then did not realize that it is not about how weak or strong you are, not about how young or old you are; it is not about might but by the Spirit of God. David was only a boy when he confronted and defeated Goliath, the giant. Even though it is written that David took out a stone from his bag, slung it, and struck the giant dead, David tells us the source of his victory. He had said to the giant, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord hosts, the God of the armies of Israel.” David won, not by might but by a name; the name of the Lord hosts.

Unless we realize that it is by a name we win and not by power and might, we may be paralyzed by fear as Jeremiah initially was. God had made him like an iron pillar, but he feared the people because he did not realize what God had made him be.

We live in a society and a world where proclaiming our fathers’ faith is becoming a crime against humanity, a society where we now want to compromise and be economical with the truth, so we don’t offend people. Today’s generation is afraid to talk about God to family members and friends; we are now falling into what social psychologists call normative conformity, getting lost in the crowd.
For many Christians today, the best message is healing and deliverance. Yes, I am not against healing and deliverance, but we must be ambitious of the higher gifts. If the flesh is healed without the soul, what good is that to us?

Today, Christianity is no longer seen in the light of salvation; people no longer think about life after death. The healing of the body has overshadowed the soul’s healing; people no longer go to Church to worship God but to receive miracles and be given revelations. Many are now more comfortable with the name Christian than being a child of God. The earl Jews made similar mistakes; they were more comfortable to be called the descendants of Abraham rather than the redeemed in Christ.

Today, like the prophet Jeremiah, God is calling us to fearlessly talk about our faith, about God to family and friends. Let those who encounter us know that we believe in God and that we are Catholics and Christians.