|SUNDAY HOMILIES FOR YEAR B|
|By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp|
|Homily for 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time- on the Epistle|
|Isaiah 43:18-19, 21-22, 24-25||2 Corinthians 1:18-22||Mark 2:1-12|
Booker T. Washington in his book Up From Slavery tells the story of a slave from Virginia who made a contract with his master permitting him to work outside, earn money, and buy back his freedom by paying him a certain amount of money over a number of years. The slave then moved to Ohio where he could get better wages. Two or three years later the Emancipation Proclamation was made, making all slaves automatically free. The Emancipation legally freed him from any obligation to his former master. Yet this ex-slave insisted on going back to his former master in Virginia and paying back the full amount he had agreed with his master before the Emancipation. When Washington asked him why he did it, he explained that he knew that he did not have to pay his debt, but that he had given his word to his master, and that he could not enjoy his freedom till he had kept his promise. This ex-slave is a shining example of a man whose “yes” is “yes.”
In today’s 2nd reading from 2 Corinthians, Paul portrays himself as a man whose “yes” is “yes.” Often when reading Paul’s letters, we find ourselves reading the answer to a question. To better appreciate the answer, we need to know what the question was. What was the question or problem that Paul was responding to?
The problem was this. Paul had promised the Corinthians that he would visit them on his way to Macedonia, and come back to them again on his return journey from Macedonia to Judea (2 Corinthians 1:16). But Paul failed to do this. Paul did not go back to them not out of self-interest or because he had no time but out of consideration for the good of the Corinthians. “I call on God as witness against me: it was to spare you that I did not come again to Corinth” (verse 23). This failure to deliver on his promise gave Paul’s detractors in Corinth the opportunity to portray Paul as an untrustworthy man, a man whose words are unreliable. They went further. If Paul’s words are so unreliable, it follows that his message, the gospel that he preached in Corinth could be equally unreliable. Thus they undermined not only Paul’s personal integrity but also the integrity of the gospel of Christ that Paul preached.
In today’s passage, Paul responds to these accusations. He reaffirms his personal trustworthiness and above all the trustworthiness of the gospel of Christ.
As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been “Yes and No.” 19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not “Yes and No”; but in him it is always “Yes.” 20 For in him every one of God's promises is a “Yes.” (2 Corinthians 1:18-20)
Like Paul, we are witnesses to Christ and our personal trustworthiness or lack of it affects the witness we bear to Christ. Simple things, like arriving on time for meetings and services, or calling people back when you had promised on your voice message that “I will call you back as soon as possible” could affect people’s evaluation of our personal trustworthiness and the trustworthiness of our witness to Christ. More serious cases of untrustworthiness, such as infidelity to our vows in marriage, in religious life or in ordination could constitute a serious stumbling block in the faith journeys of more brothers and sisters in Christ than we care to know.
Behind the present crisis of divorce and remarriage in the church is the unanswered question, “If a man or woman is unfaithful to his or her marriage vows the first time, what guarantee is there that he or she will be faithful this time around? And behind the crisis of the priesthood in the church today is the silent question, “If priests could preach “yes” and do “no,” what guarantee is there that the rest of their preaching is true and dependable?” Let us all resolve today as people of God to bring our word and our life in harmony with our faith in Christ in whom it is always “yes” to God and never “no.” Amen.
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