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Homily for thirty-first Sunday, year A

03 Nov 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

In our first reading this morning, the Lord says that he is a great king and the Lord of hosts, and his name is to be feared throughout the nations. In other words, there is no other king apart from him. The priest is not the king, the religious leaders are not to take God’s place, and they are not to draw attention to themselves but to point to Christ, the king.

The Lord warns the priests, religious leaders, and all those who preach the gospel of Christ to learn to glorify the name of God. Many of us may have led others astray through our words and actions, but the Lord reminds us as leaders that we are called to guide, to instruct in the way of the Lord, and not to mislead and destroy.
There is no doubt that today many of us religious leaders are becoming stumbling blocks for others; our teachings are becoming diluted and one-sided. The true gospel values and our traditional Catholic doctrines are gradually ignored, and the word of God is becoming a manipulative tool in the hands of preachers. There are so many preachers of the gospel today, which is good. But the danger and the temptation here is that if we do not preach what he has asked us to preach if we bring glory to ourselves and not to him, he will curse our blessing. It is the Lord who speaks; we pray for his mercy.

Jesus tells each of us this morning that there is that possibility of being misled or deceived by so-called preachers of the gospel. Our generation has seen an increase in the number of prophets and prophetess, priests and religious, and our world is saturated with all kinds of prophetic utterances. But the Lord warns us not to focus on man, but on God. Our knowledge of the word of God is essential; know the truth, and it will set you free. The word of God is truth; it has power and authority, and so cannot be buried forever. That is why Jesus says that the scribes and the Pharisees occupy Moses’s chair; they proclaim the same word Moses received from God and proclaimed. God gave the Law to Moses; Moses handed it to Joshua; Joshua transmitted it to the elders; the elders passed it down to the prophets, and the prophets gave it to the Scribes and Pharisees. Jesus did not come to abolish this Law but to fulfill it.

Every ordained minister in the Church occupies Moses’s chair; he proclaims the word that is not his own; he proclaims the more powerful word than he is; he should be listened to. Even though he never agreed with the Scribes and Pharisees, he commanded the people to listen to them. However, we must remember that proclaiming God’s word is one thing, and doing the word of God is another thing. It is not enough to preach the word or listen to the word, but to do what the word says. It is not our claims of discipleship that makes us disciples of Christ; our salvation is not in the claims but the practice. That is where Jesus had a problem with the scribes and the Pharisees; they became so strict and multiplied the Law to make a burden out of it. They were no longer the preachers of the word but judged over the people. But Jesus said, listen to them but do not do what they do; they do not practice what they preach.

Jesus may have been talking about the Scribes and the Pharisees, but the same is true of us. It is not enough to preach the word of God or to hear the word of God, but to put the word of God into practice. Both the preachers of the word of God and the hearers will be judged based on their practice of the word they preached and heard.

Preacher Teaching from Bible

To be a preacher of God’s word is not a ticket to heaven, so also is hearing it; it is also not a ticket to heaven. The preacher must look beyond himself to realize that he is only a servant under the power of the word he preaches, and the hearers also must look beyond the weaknesses of the preacher to obey the word of God.

St. Paul reminds us in the second reading that the preacher should be eager to hand the truth of the gospel of Christ undiluted over to the people and that the people should accept the word as it really is. He said to the Thessalonians, Another reason why we constantly thank God for you is that as soon as you heard the message that we brought to you as God’s message, you accepted it for what it really is, God’s message and not some human thinking. It is still a living power among you who believe it. We pray at this Mass for the courage to continue to proclaim the gospel of Christ undiluted and the faith to continue to accept and obey the word of God as it really is.