HOMILY FOR THE 26TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B
Beloved in Christ, today due to the attitude of Joshua in the first reading and John in the gospel, I would like us to reflect on the theme “THE GOD WE SERVE ” because like them some of us Christians pride ourselves in the fact that we have monopoly over God and His dealings with man, a situation that shows narrowness of our image of God and His dealings with man.
Beloved, the response from both Moses and Jesus affirmed the fact that the God we serve cannot be limited,restricted or controlled and is not the preserve of a particular group of people. Unfortunately, some people cannot accept this fact about God and still think God is their sole preserve and are thus intolerant of others outside of their group.
A story is told of a Priest who started a prayer ministry at the Pastoral Centre of the diocese and as
a result went to his Bishop asking for a letter to oblige all who needed healing to come to the Pastoral Centre when in fact other priests were also having healing services in the parishes.
Beloved, in the mind set of this Priest, God has no right to heal anybody in the diocese except at the Pastoral Centre. This cannot work because God never allows Himself to be limited by man. If only we could look beyond the Tent of Meeting or move outside we will see the hand of God at work in creation.
My dear friend, we are not to confuse ” no one can perform a mighty deed in my name and at the same time speak ill of me “(Mk.9:39) with “whoever is not with me is against, and whoever does not gather with me scatters”(Mt.12:30, Lk 9:50;11:23). For in Mark 9:39, the reference is to those outside the church who because of their sincerity and good will are really with Jesus or the Church. But in Mt.12:30 and Lk.11:23,the reference is to members of the church who instead of assisting in the work of Christ hinder it by their attitude of laziness and criticism.
Beloved , our God is not the exclusive property of the structured church, for He works outside of it too. This is seen in the many good deeds done by people who belong to other religious denominations or even those who are unbelievers. We therefore need to tolerate and respect one another.
We are thus warned that merely belonging to the church will not guarantee your salvation , an affirmation that it is obedience to God irrespective of where we belong that will save us.
This notwithstanding, those in the church have a greater advantage when it comes to discovering God’s commandments and living them out. For the God we serve is not the God of the cage but the one who freely does whatever He wills.