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Homily for the sixth Sunday in ordinary time, Year C

13 Feb 2022, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

In our liturgy of the word today, the Church calls her children to renew their trust and confidence in God. Our readings sound interesting but could easily be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

In the first reading, the prophet Jeremiah reminds us that “Cursed is the man who trusts in mere mortals and makes mere flesh their strength…Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.” In the gospel, according to Luke, Jesus gave the Sermon on the plain, about the beatitudes when he calls the poor, the hungry, those who weep blessed; he calls the hated to rejoice. These passages of the scripture can be misunderstood, but we thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who continues to lead us into the complete truth.

When God says curse be on the man who trusts his fellow man, he is not encouraging discord among men, nor is he saying we do not need each other, can’t help each other, or can’t have some level of trust in each other. No, that is not what God is saying. God himself trusts mere mortals; at least there are people he trusts and uses for his purpose. God has regards for us, so we are bound to respect each other and have some level of trust in each other but put all our hope in God. I trust you can help me, which is why I am coming to your office to ask for help. However, I hope in God who can use you to help me. God is not putting enmity or mistrust between mortals but calling us to let our hope be in him who uses people. Mere mortals are instruments in God’s hands, and while we trust to assist each other, our hope is in God who uses men. Throughout scripture, mere mortals were sent to lay hands on the sick, and a mere mortal was sent to the Ethiopian Eunuch to make him understand the word of God he reads (Acts 8:26f). God calls us today to honor him in each other and not to distrust each other.

In the Sermon on the plain, like the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus pronounces a blessing on the poor and woe on the rich. “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God…But woe to you who are rich, for you, have received your consolation.” Jesus is not making poverty a criterion for making heaven nor wealth an obstacle to heaven. God himself made people rich; he blest Abraham, he gifted Solomon and still blessing people today with great wealth. The same God encourages the wealthy to help the poor, so God cannot call us to celebrate poverty as a virtue. Instead, he calls us to recognize that we all are in need just as the poor are in need; we must recognize our dependence on God, our need for him. In other words, blessed are those who recognize their need of me and woe to those who feel too rich to see their need of me.

Being poor or rich has nothing to do with our following of Christ; they are not criteria for heaven. So, we go back to the prophet Jeremiah with a better understanding of the “Thus says the Lord: Cursed is the one who trusts in mere mortals and makes mere flesh their strength…Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.” These mere mortals are our children, brothers and sisters, parents, friends, and relations; they are not evil; they are people God has put in our lives for his purpose. We must learn to walk hand in hand, trusting and helping each other while our hope is in God, who uses people to bless people.

Dear friends, as we celebrate this Sunday, let’s call on the Holy Spirit’s help to renew our faith and hope in God. St. Paul reminds us in our second reading that Christ is risen, and our hope is alive. Therefore, let us call on God to raise destiny helpers to come our way and help us recognize them when they arrive. I pray that we humble ourselves to give all the glory back to God.