Homily for thirty-first Sunday, year A

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 the place of God, 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 so diluted and one sided. The true gospel values and our traditional Catholic doctrines are gradually been ignored, and the word of God is becoming a manipulative tools in the hands of preachers. There are so many preachers of the gospel today, which is good. But the danger and the temptation her is that if we do not preach what he has asked us to preach, if we bring glory to ourselves and not to him, then he will curse our blessing. It is the Lord who speaks; we pray for his mercy.

Jesus tells each and every one of us this morning that there is that possibility of been misled or deceived by so called preachers of the gospel. Our generation has seen an increased in 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 very important, 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 the chair of Moses, 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 fulfil it.

Every ordained minister in the Church occupies the chair of Moses, he proclaims the word that are not his own, he proclaim the word that is more powerful than he is; he should be listened to. Even though Jesus never agreed with the Scribes and Pharisees, yet, he commanded the people to listen to them. However, we must remember that proclaiming the word of God is one thing, and doing the word of God is another thing. It is not enough to preach the word or to 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 in the practice. That is where Jesus had 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 judge 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 the word of God 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 also 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; and 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.

Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA

Joel Okojie is an ordained Catholic Priest in the Order of St. Augustine. He has been a Priest for over a decade. He served as pastor in two different parishes, he was one time Novice Master and a member of the Provincial Council of the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, and he is currently on a mission in response to the needs of the Church in Canada.

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