THIS WEEK’S HOMILY: DO SOMETHING

26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C

By: Rev. Fr. Sylvanus Ameh

Readings: Amos 6:1, 4-7; Psalm 146; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31

Theme: Do Something

In last week’s First Reading, through the prophet Amos, God condemned the unjust acquisition of wealth. This week, God declares woe unto those who are rich (any manner of wealth) but who take no notice of those who are poor (any form of poverty). And this message of prophet Amos is re-echoed in Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus in today’s gospel reading. While the parable is presumably a familiar one, we should take note of the following from it:

  • the rich man ate plenty everyday while Lazarus starved
  • all Lazarus wanted was just crumbs of food to stay alive, but even that, he did not get
  • the rich man died and was buried, maybe even a lavish burial, but for Lazarus, we do not know what happened to his body; we only know angels took him (his soul) to heaven
  • the rich man went to hell; Lazarus went to Abraham’s bosom (heaven)
  • and even in hell, the rich man still wanted to boss Lazarus by asking Abraham to send him

We ought to take note also of these very important points about the first reading and the gospel reading, for they are both drawing our attention to the same thing.

  • the rich man did not kick Lazarus from his property
  • he did not insult Lazarus
  • he did not shout at Lazarus
  • he did not DO anything TO Lazarus
  • he also did not DO anything FOR Lazarus
  • he simply enjoyed his wealth without noticing Lazarus.
  • His sin was that HE DID NOTHING when he could have DONE MUCH
  • The rich that were condemned by prophet Amos also sinned by simply enjoying their wealth and DOING NOTHING to help the poor. In fact, they did not even notice the poor.

This is one of the big points of today’s Liturgy of the Word: that we sin, not only by what we do (sin of commission) but also by the things we should have done that we did not do (sin of omission). In the Confiteor, we pray: “I confess to Almighty God…that I have greatly sinned…in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.” Why do we have to confess as sin, what we did not do? The bible gives us the answer in James 4:17. There scripture says, “To him who knows what to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” And on this point, many of us, if not all, are guilty. We must note that the issue God is addressing to us today is not just about material wealth and material poverty; this extends to all forms of wealth and all forms of poverty. Before any one of us begin to think these words are for some people only, know that God is addressing all of us because:

  • some of us are rich in our spiritual lives, and we disdain those who are struggling to walk aright with God
  • some of us are intellectually rich, and we scorn those who not as intelligent as we are
  • some of us are socially rich, and we mock at those who are at the lower rungs of the social ladder
  • some of us are rich in health, and we despise those whose health are not as good as ours
  • some of us are emotionally rich, and we do not seem to understand those who are depressed because of emotional poverty.
  • some of us are materially rich, and we look down on those who suffer material poverty.

Anyone who is deficient in that area of life that God has richly blessed you is the Lazarus God has put at your gate. So,

  • Is there a Lazarus at your house gate?
  • Is there a Lazarus in your school?
  • Is there a Lazarus in your office?
  • Is there a Lazarus in your neighbourhood?
  • Is there a Lazarus in your church?
  • Are you noticing that Lazarus?
  • What are you doing to help the Lazarus in your life to be better?

Jesus says whatsoever we do to the least of the brethren we are doing it to him (Mat 25:40). We gather today as Christians and profess our love for God, but the word of God tells us that the love of God is not, will not and cannot be in us if we see a brother or sister in need and close our hearts to them (cf. 1 Jn 3:17). Today therefore, God is charging us to do something for that Lazarus at our gate.

  • Do something for that Lazarus who is suffering spiritual poverty
  • Do something for that Lazarus whose academic life is not as good as yours
  • Do something for that Lazarus who is emotionally depressed and is now living in isolation
  • Do something for that Lazarus whose dignity has been reduced by material poverty
  • Simply do something for any Lazarus that is at your gate, for God is watching and God rewards.

Let us always keep in mind that “Charity covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8) and every Lazarus we meet is a bearer of God’s image and likeness. We pray that God may grant us the courage and spirit of kindness to do something for the Lazarus in our life today. Amen

26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C

Readings: Amos 6:1, 4-7; Psalm 146; 1 Timothy 6:11-16; Luke 16:19-31

Theme: Do Something

In last week’s First Reading, through the prophet Amos, God condemned the unjust acquisition of wealth. This week, God declares woe unto those who are rich (any manner of wealth) but who take no notice of those who are poor (any form of poverty). And this message of prophet Amos is re-echoed in Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus in today’s gospel reading. While the parable is presumably a familiar one, we should take note of the following from it:

  • the rich man ate plenty everyday while Lazarus starved
  • all Lazarus wanted was just crumbs of food to stay alive, but even that, he did not get
  • the rich man died and was buried, maybe even a lavish burial, but for Lazarus, we do not know what happened to his body; we only know angels took him (his soul) to heaven
  • the rich man went to hell; Lazarus went to Abraham’s bosom (heaven)
  • and even in hell, the rich man still wanted to boss Lazarus by asking Abraham to send him

We ought to take note also of these very important points about the first reading and the gospel reading, for they are both drawing our attention to the same thing.

  • the rich man did not kick Lazarus from his property
  • he did not insult Lazarus
  • he did not shout at Lazarus
  • he did not DO anything TO Lazarus
  • he also did not DO anything FOR Lazarus
  • he simply enjoyed his wealth without noticing Lazarus.
  • His sin was that HE DID NOTHING when he could have DONE MUCH
  • The rich that were condemned by prophet Amos also sinned by simply enjoying their wealth and DOING NOTHING to help the poor. In fact, they did not even notice the poor.

This is one of the big points of today’s Liturgy of the Word: that we sin, not only by what we do (sin of commission) but also by the things we should have done that we did not do (sin of omission). In the Confiteor, we pray: “I confess to Almighty God…that I have greatly sinned…in what I have done and in what I have failed to do.” On this point, many of us, if not all, are guilty. We must note that the issue God is addressing to us today is not just about material wealth and material poverty; this extends to all forms of wealth and all forms of poverty. Before any one of us begin to think these words are for some people only, know that God is addressing all of us because:

  • some of us are rich in our spiritual lives, and we disdain those who are struggling to walk aright with God
  • some of us are intellectually rich, and we scorn those who not as intelligent as we are
  • some of us are socially rich, and we mock at those who are at the lower rungs of the social ladder
  • some of us are rich in health, and we despise those whose health are not as good as ours
  • some of us are emotionally rich, and we do not seem to understand those who are depressed because of emotional poverty.
  • some of us are materially rich, and we look down on those who suffer material poverty.

Anyone who is deficient in that area of life that God has richly blessed you is the Lazarus God has put at your gate. So,

  • Is there a Lazarus at your house gate?
  • Is there a Lazarus in your school?
  • Is there a Lazarus in your office?
  • Is there a Lazarus in your neighbourhood?
  • Is there a Lazarus in your church?
  • Are you noticing that Lazarus?
  • What are you doing to help the Lazarus in your life to be better?

Jesus says whatsoever we do to the least of the brethren we are doing it to him (Mat 25:40). We gather today as Christians and profess our love for God, but the word of God tells us that the love of God is not, will not and cannot be in us if we see a brother or sister in need and close our hearts to them (cf. 1 Jn 3:17). Today therefore, God is charging us to do something for that Lazarus at our gate.

  • Do something for that Lazarus who is suffering spiritual poverty
  • Do something for that Lazarus whose academic life is not as good as yours
  • Do something for that Lazarus who is emotionally depressed and is now living in isolation
  • Do something for that Lazarus whose dignity has been reduced by material poverty
  • Simply do something for any Lazarus that is at your gate, for God is watching and God rewards.

Let us always keep in mind that “Charity covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8) and every Lazarus we meet is a bearer of God’s image and likeness. We pray that God may grant us the courage and spirit of kindness to do something for the Lazarus in our life today. Amen

FAITH CLINIC: COMING SOON…

The FAITH CLINIC page on fadasly.org is an interactive feature meant to dissect and discuss burning issues on Catholic faith and doctrines. It aims at addressing the “ailment” of ignorance suffered by some Catholics and non Catholics on matters of faith and morals, hence, the name, FAITH CLINIC.

The series shall feature posts on various topics, published fortnightly in short series, to aid easy reading and comprehension. Readers can also make contributions and ask questions on the featured topic in the comments section, which shall be answered; as much as possible, this is going to be an interactive session. And it is hoped that this will be of great help to my many readers as well as other people out there who have the burning desire to know. Always feel free to share “medications” coming from this CLINIC to all your social media platforms. The motto of this CLINIC shall be: The Truth shall set you free… (John 8:32)

Rev. Fr. AMEH Sylvanus

Medical Director, Faith Clinic

THIS WEEK’S HOMILY: HEAR THIS…

25TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C

By: Rev. Fr. Sylvanus Ameh

Readings: Amos 8:4-7; Psalm 113; 1 Timothy 2:1-8; Luke 16:1-13

Theme: Hear This…

Israel in the 8th century BC was very much like Nigeria of the 20th century AD. Material prosperity was on the increase, except that not everyone was prospering. The rich were getting richer and the poor were getting poorer. The bad side of this prosperity for the rich was that they were getting richer at the expense of the poor. Social injustice and oppression of the poor was so high. This was the kind of situation God called Prophet Amos to denounce.

What Amos condemned in his days, we see same and even worse happening in our day. The people of Amos’ day were too impatient to wait for the Sabbath to pass so that they can go on committing their sins in pursuit of wealth. Even today, some people cannot wait for Sunday to pass, for Monday to come so that they can go back to their evil. However, in our society today, the word of God through the Prophet Amos is not only addressed to the rich but to everybody alike. For some people, Sunday is the only day they take a break from sin. Their lifestyle seems to say “Sunday is for God, weekdays are for me.” If you are such a person, do not forget that God is the owner of Monday to Sunday. Some people have even become so bold in sin that they have no regards for God again. Even Sunday is a day for the sinful business.

Very importantly, God says through Prophet Amos: “The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob: “Surely I will never forget any of their deeds”” (Amos 8:7). In other words, God is watching and taking notes of the evils we do today, like it was done in the days of Amos, and he says he will never forget. God condemned the shady things people did in the days of Prophet Amos to make money; he is today also, condemning the many evils we do for the sake of money. Hear this, child of God: God, who is Almighty and unpredictable says he is watching and he will never forget.

  • Some people today sell fake products to unsuspecting customers. Hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
  • There are people who inflate the prices of goods simply because the consumers have no alternative. Hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
  • Some of you carry young boys or girls to serve you for some years, and when it is time to settle them, you start accusing them of things they did not do so that you won’t settle them; or you give them something that cannot even rent a shop, not to talk of starting a business. Hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
  • Some of you employ people and overwork them, but when it comes to payment, you either owe them their salaries or you underpay them. Hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
  • If you are a landlord and all you know how to do is increase your rent without increasing the quality of your house, making life extra difficult for your tenants, hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
  • If someone leaves you in charge of his/her business to manage and you run it down out of wickedness and/or recklessness, hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
  • There are some of you who are employees of people, you do very little work, but you expect to be paid a normal wage, hear this: the Almighty unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.
  • Your boss or your office sends you to buy something. You buy it at one price and write a higher price on the receipt you submit to the office; hear this: the Almighty, unpredictable God is watching, and he will never forget.

Child of God, God says to us that he is watching all such evils that we do and he will never forget. You may want to ask: And what will God do if he does not forget? He provides an answer to that question through the Prophet Jeremiah where he says, “Disaster shall fall upon the man who builds his house by injustice and grows rich by dishonesty, who make people work for him for nothing and does not pay them for their labour (Jer 22:13). Again, God says “The person who gets money dishonestly is like a bird that hatches eggs it did not lay. In the prime of his life, he will lose his riches and in the end, he is nothing but a fool” (Jer 17:11).

Jesus tells us in the gospel of today’s Mass that one day, God shall ask us to render an account to him of all that we have been doing. And the master said to his servant: “What is this that I hear about you? Turn me an account of your stewardship, for you shall no longer be steward” (Lk 16:2). But God shall say to us: “Render me an account of the stewardship of your life, for you shall no longer be alive.” When that day comes, what kind of account will you give to God? Now that we have the time to prepare our account book, how are we going about it?

In the parable of the shrewd servant in the gospel, Jesus was not praising the servant for being dishonest, but he sets that parable as a lesson for us on foresight, using our now to plan for our future. Many people who do the evils we have condemned today will tell you that they are making money to plan for their future; a future that will end? Jesus says we should rather use such wisdom to plan for our eternal future that will not end. Hear this, child of God! Whatever you are doing today, God says that he is watching, that he will never forget, and that one day, he shall ask you to give him an account of your life. So start arranging your account book today, for tomorrow may be too late.

Some of you may be saying in your mind: But why is Father preaching and presenting God in such a manner? God is loving and merciful and not a hostile and sadistic judge.” If that is your thought, you are very correct. Last week’s gospel reading dwelt on the mercy of God. But just so that we do not get carried away and fall into the error of taking God’s mercy for granted, this week, the church is drawing our attention to the justice of God. We must never forget that the mercy of God does not in any way negate his justice. As much as God is merciful, God is also just. So, child of God, today, as we reflect on the justice of God, I must also say to you that whoever repents of his sins, God has promised, in his love and mercy, to forgive. Let us therefore not persist in wrongdoing; let us rather turn from our sins and live (cf. Ezk 33:11). May God grant us the courage to run away from evil and all forms of injustice. Amen.

THIS WEEK’S HOMILY: AMAZING GRACE

24TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C

Readings: Exodus 32:7-11, 13-14; Psalm 51; 1 Timothy 1:12-17; Luke 15:1-32

Theme: Amazing Grace

Every human being has a relationship with God, whether he/she admits of it or not. This relationship is based on faith, love, and fidelity. God always keeps his own part of the deal but many times, we fail him. We are not always faithful, and we do not always love him. When we fail to love God and become unfaithful to him, then it is said that we have sinned. Sin offends God and separates us from him, but in his mercy, he forgives us and takes us back. This is what all the readings of today’s Mass speak to us about, but more forcefully, the readings are about the amazing love and grace of God which never gives up on us.

In the gospel reading, Jesus tells the Pharisees and Scribes, and by extension, us too, three very significant parables – of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. In all three parables, we see the image of God as the One who does not give up on anyone. This goes to show to us that as far as God is concerned, each and every one of us is of the greatest importance in our singularity. Leaving ninety-nine sheep in search of only one may not actually make sense to us until we are that one. Our reflection shall however, focus more on the parable of the lost son. We shall note a few significant points about each of the principal characters of the parable, and from them, draw multiple short lessons.

The First Son (The Self Righteous)

  • His righteousness was so much even before his own eyes that he told his father, “I never disobeyed your command.”
  • He had a wrong picture of his father; he saw his father more as a master than as a father. This was why he could say to his father, “Behold, these many years, I have served you.”
  • He was unforgiving and exclusive. He would not welcome his younger brother back home, yet he was pained that his father could forgive his brother. As far as he was concerned, the brother was not deserving of the father’s love and that amazing graciousness with which he was received.

The Second Son (The Reckless)

  • Probably driven by youthful exuberance, he wanted freedom; he wanted to see and experience life.
  • He displayed foolishness in squandering his portion of wealth; and he had fair-weather friends who were only interested in what he had, not in who he is. So when his wealth finished, they vanished.
  • He learnt the hard way, the other side of life. Young people should especially learn from this. They sometimes think their parents are not allowing them freedom, not knowing that the parents are protecting them from the harsh realities of life. Some eventually break “free” like the boy in our story, and unfortunately, they are permanently damaged.
  • Hunger made him remember home. Though this is not really cool, but at least, he remembered home. He probably was not truly remorseful; he just wanted food.
  • Remembering home is one thing, going home is another thing. He summoned courage to actually go home. Sometimes, the realization of our sins comes upon us so hard, but we still lack the courage to rise and go back home. We must pray for this courage.

The Father (The Merciful)

  • The man was wise and experienced in the things of life, so when the son “revolted”, he let him go.
  • He had a big, generous and forgiving heart. This is clearly demonstrated in the manner in which he received his son back home.
  • He is a forgetter. He was not interested in the son’s mistake; he was only interested in the fact of his return.

Lessons

  • Separated from God, life shall be miserable for us, as we see in the experience of the lost son. Hosea 14:1 says “Your iniquity is the cause of your misery.”
  • Repentance must be borne out of sorrow for sin, not out of fear of punishment or in search of favour.
  • Those who, in their self-righteousness, think “sinners” should not be in the church, this parable is for you. It was for people of this kind that Jesus told these three parables in the first instance.
  • God does not owe us because we serve him. The sense of entitlement of the first son is what some Christians today also carry and even preachers are preaching this misleading message. The boy told his father, “All these years, I have served you…and you never gave me even a small goat to celebrate with my friends.” These days, you hear preachers saying something like, “You cannot be faithfully serving my God and be poor” or “If you are serving the living God, sickness can never be your portion.” Such teachings are not biblical.
  • When we sin, all that God wants is to see us return to him. Repeatedly, God has said to us through the prophets that he is not interested in the death of sinners but in their repentance and salvation (cf. Isa 1:18; Ezk 18:23).
  • No matter how far away we have moved from God, the love and grace of God is so amazing that he constantly keeps working to bring us back to himself. As Jesus said in the parable of the lost coin and the lost sheep, their owners went in search of them; that is how God goes in search of us. This is the reason why St. Paul says that “God is reconciling us to himself through Jesus Christ…not counting our sins against us” (2 Cor 5:18-19).
  • The parables in today’s gospel reading, especially the parable of the lost son, are the stories of our lives and our relationship with God. We have all sinned and moved away from God. Will we rise and return to our Father? Or are we going to remain in the pig stead? May the Lord God grant us the courage and grace of true repentance. Amen.