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Homily for the Nineteenth Sunday, year C

06 Aug 2022, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

The first two sentences or the first paragraph of our first reading this morning is powerful and makes a lot of sense. It is written that “The night of the deliverance from Egypt was made known beforehand to our ancestors, so that they might rejoice in the sure knowledge of the oaths in which they trusted.” This statement is about the faithfulness of God.

We often talk about how much God loves Israel as a nation, and the Israelites are considered God’s chosen people. God’s special love for Israel started with a promise; before Israel came into existence, God called Abram and said to him, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing” (Gen. 12:1-2). Through Abraham, despite his experience of long childlessness, God fulfilled his promise to make a great nation out of him. At the age of a hundred, Abraham had his first child Isaac, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, also known as Israel, the father of twelve children who became the twelve tribes of Israel. This whole story is summarized in the Acts of the apostle chapter 7 by Deacon Stephen. Stephen tells us that God had told Abraham that his descendants would be enslaved people in a foreign country but would eventually be freed (Acts 7:6-7). So, the night of the deliverance from Egypt was made known to our ancestors.

It took many years for God’s promise to Abraham to be fulfilled, a lot happened in his life, yet Abraham kept going. What gave Abraham the strength to keep going even in the midst of what looked like hopelessness? Faith! Abraham held on to the fact that God said he would do it. And that is what our second reading this morning is all about, faith. “Faith is the assurance of the things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Indeed, by faith, our ancestors received approval” (Heb. 11:1-2). And so, amid what looked like Divine failure, Abraham kept trusting and believing in God’s plans for him.

Just as God raised a great nation, Israel, out of Abraham, he has raised us in Christ Jesus as the new Israel. We are also a product of God’s covenant, products of love. God has his plans for us, and as he unfolds them, they may look unpleasant, but just as Abraham trusted and held on to God’s covenant and faithfulness, we are also to hold onto God’s love and faithfulness in our Christian journey. A lot will happen; there will be the time when there will seem to be Divine silence, and our faith will be tested, but we must keep going like Abraham.

Jesus said to his apostles and to everyone, ” Do not be afraid, be dressed for action, and have your lamps lit. Our faith is our lamp, and to be dressed for action and have our lamps lit is to let our faith guard and guide us through the darkness of this world. Material wealth or its lack shouldn’t quench our faith’s light. Keep the light of faith in sickness or health, “for the Son of man is coming at an unexpected hour.”