|SUNDAY HOMILIES FOR YEAR C|
|By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp|
|Homily for 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time - on the Epistle|
The Gospel: Good News and Bad News
|2 Kings 5:14-17||2 Timothy 2:8-13||Luke 17:11-19|
Imagine yourself like Alice in Wonderland. You are very hungry and thirsty. And a rich variety of food and goodies is set before you. You are told that you may eat anything you want all day on the condition that you also eat a live frog hopping about inside one of the dishes. How will you proceed? Most of us will start with the goodies and put off eating the frog for as long as possible. If you do that you will not really enjoy yourself because all the while you know that your frog is waiting for you. A wise person will first eat the frog and then spend the rest of the day having fun. The gospel is like that, as Paul explains in today’s second reading from his Second Letter to Timothy.
The reading begins with Paul asking Timothy to remember the heart of the gospel. “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David – that is my gospel” (2 Timothy 2:8). Paul is not asking Timothy to remember something that happened in the past, namely, that Jesus rose from the dead. He is asking him to keep before his eyes (“keep remembering”) the present reality that the Risen Christ is now always with us. Men and women of heroic faith down through the ages agree that there is no better way of growing in holiness than to keep in mind always and everywhere the fact that the Risen Lord is with us. Christ always with us is like the compass that guides us in the right way as well as the dynamo that energizes us from within.
A second point to remember is that this Jesus is a descendant of David, that is, he is human like us. We often forget that Jesus is human like us in all things but sin. Because he is human, Jesus understands the various trials, temptations and hardships that we face in our day-to-day lives. When we remember that Jesus is human like us, then we can aspire to be like him: to live for God like him, to accept suffering and death like him, and to rise again to eternal glory like him.
The gospel is good news and bad news. First the bad news. “That is my gospel for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal” (2 Timothy 2:8-9). The gospel lands Paul in jail. He is in chains, literally, in a prison in Rome awaiting execution. That doesn’t sound much like good news. Anyone who decides to accept and live by the gospel must be prepared for inconvenience. Jesus was inconvenienced, so was Paul, and so shall we be if we be true to the gospel.
“But the word of God is not chained” (2:9b). The message is bigger than the messenger. The messenger could be imprisoned and killed but the truth of the gospel cannot be chained or stopped. This was a source of consolation for Paul. When we find the gospel, we find a reason to live and a reason to die. We are happy to suffer and to die so long as the word of God prospers and lives on.
The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful-- for he cannot deny himself. (2 Timothy 2:11-13).
At last comes the good news. If at first we accept the bad news of the cross, then, in the end, we shall rejoice in the good news of the crown; if we endure the pain, we shall enjoy the gain. With these words Paul encourages Timothy, his son in the faith, to embrace the gospel wholeheartedly and follow its demands uncompromisingly. In the short run it may bring him much inconvenience and even death. But in the long run it will bring him eternal life and glory.
The same gospel is presented to us today. In the short term is might sound like bad news: do not live your life as you please, surrender your life to Go and live the way God demands; do not keep all your wealth to yourself, share with the poor; but in the end it will be found to be good news indeed. It is like we all have this dish of goodies and a live frog to eat. Those who prefer to eat the goodies now will have to eat their frog at the end, but those who decide to eat the frog now, unpleasant as it is, will then have all eternity to enjoy the goodies. Which do you choose?