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Homily for the thirtieth Sunday, year A.

27 Oct 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

In our gospel passage a week ago, the Pharisees and the Herodians tried to set Jesus up with a question about paying tax to Caesar, but Jesus knowing their minds escaped their trap. But that same day, the Sadducees came with their own trouble. They, too, tried to entrap Jesus with the question about the resurrection, for they did not believe in the resurrection. Jesus also escaped their trap.

Today in our gospel reading, When the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they got together and, to disconcert him, one of them put a question, ‘Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law? What a beautiful question!

We have often heard the police say to a suspect 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 exactly what the Pharisees tried to do to Jesus in our gospel passage this morning, to make him do or say something that may be used against him. He came to ask Jesus which is the greatest commandment, not just because he loves to obey the law, not because he wants to be a follower or a believer in Christ but because he wanted to disconcert him. He planned to confuse Jesus to make him say what could be used against him, to upset him, and to embarrass him.

So many people came to Jesus and still come to him 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 will not last, 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), for they must have reason or reasons for following him. We ask ourselves the same question today; why are we following Jesus? Why do we come to him?

Many people come to Jesus to test him like the Pharisees in our gospel passage this morning, some others have tried other means of getting wealth and failed, now they come to Jesus simply as another option without faith. Let’s try him, they say, but you don’t put the Lord your God 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 they pretend to be after eternal life in Christ just like the Pharisees; 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.

To the question, which is the greatest commandment of the Law? Jesus replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind…The second resembles it: you must love your neighbor as yourself. Christianity is about the love of God and neighbor, we cannot worship him unless we love him, and we cannot love Him unless we love our neighbors.

The question we ask ourselves this morning is; why are we in his presence? Why do we follow him? Are we here to disconcert him? For him to work a miracle in our lives? Are we following him for selfish reasons? We follow him for who he is; our Lord and master, every other thing is just addition. Therefore, we are called today to be sincere in our relationship with God, which translates into love for neighbor. Christianity is a religion of faith, of relationship with God and man. We are called to show love, to be people of love.

  • Igwilo Stanley Ekene Reply

    I must confess that I never saw towards that dimension concerning that passage when I read the scripture. Thank you Father for that explanation.