Homily for the 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C. 03-02-2019 by Fr. Lubem, osj.
First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-5. 17-19
Psalm: Psalm 71:1-2. 3-4a. 5-6ab. 15ab and 17
Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:31-13: 13
Gospel: Luke 4:21-30
Our liturgy of the word today gives us two examples of people to emulate in the persons of Jeremiah the prophet in our first reading, and Jesus Christ in our gospel reading. Jeremiah was called by God to prophesy to the people of Israel before the king and the leaders of the people. This call came at a very difficult time in the history of Israel. His mission to them was to tell them the truth, and He remained faithful to that mission but not without cost. God reminds him that his call began even before he was conceived in his mother’s womb. This is how God knows each and every one of us seated here today too. Before we are conceived God knows us, and He wills us to be conceived before we are conceived. That’s why the child in the womb at any stage at all is a full and complete human being with inalienable human rights. Destroying that child in the exercise of our freedom is what Pope Benedict XVI describes as ‘a diabolical parody’ which is a ridiculing of the truth in an evil way.
When Jeremiah was born, only God knew the mission to which He called him – the mission to tell the truth. Each of us as a child of God is called just like Jeremiah to this same mission. For Christ says in John 14:6 ‘I am the way, the truth and the life, no one can come to the father except through me.’ Truth brings us to the beautiful embrace of the love of God the father, and lies on the other hand lead us to be embraced by the devil who is the father of all lies. John 8:44 ‘you belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.’ So as truth brings life, lies bring death. Just as Jeremiah and Jesus, we also have been called to bring life to the people around us by telling them the truth. Jeremiah told the people that their evil lifestyle had brought suffering upon them. He warned them to refrain from making treaties with pagans, sacrificing to pagan gods and participating in immorality. He told them the simple truth to hold onto their God and trust in Him. This was why he was persecuted and attacked but he remained true to the word of God that he had been given. God also promised to be with Him to deliver him and He was with him to the end.
Just as it was with Jeremiah so also was it with Jesus who as Son of God came for the truth, and He was attacked and opposed just the same way as Jeremiah, even more by His own kin who thought He was the son of Joseph the carpenter. They even threatened to kill Him before God delivered Him from their hands. If today we call ourselves Christians, followers of Christ, how then do we expect our experience to be different from that of Christ? As Jeremiah and Christ were called for the truth, we also are called to proclaim God’s Truth. His call came with a warning and an assurance– they will fight against you, but I am with you to deliver you. He will be with us as we proclaim the authentic way of life, living for the kingdom of God. But how many of us are faithful to our mission of telling the truth? We live in an age when telling lies has become even a profession that people aspire to practice. Some people don’t even want to hear us when we proclaim God’s truth. They mock us, they insult us, they vilify us, when we tell them the truth about human life, sexuality, marriage, law, morality, e.t.c. according to God’s plan. They want to push us off the cliff of respectability. Let us remember that He who has called us to the mission of truth will never desert us; so do not be afraid of telling the truth. And for us to be effective in this cause, we must imbibe the three theological virtues of faith, hope and love. And the greatest of all these is love. What is love? The mystics say, love is a person. His name is Jesus. And, if you want to be an authentic lover, become that Jesus. Rom 8:38 ‘what can separate us from the love of God?’ Nothing. He loves us to the end. And as we have been called to proclaim His truth, we must do it with love so that He can be with us to the end. The great hymn of love in our second reading is teaching us how to proclaim the truth of God with love. Love is patient, kind and so forth. He assures us that whatever happens to us as individuals, to our nation, in our forthcoming general elections; faith, hope and love will remain. And the greatest of these is love, for God is love. May we today become the visible face of the invisible God proclaiming His truth with love to all whom we meet. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.