Reflection/Homily: Fourth (4th) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C (February 3 2013)
Theme: Courage in Christian Discipleship
The call to Christian discipleship is a call that requires a lot of courage. Courage is required in responding positively to this call and in carrying out the tasks required of one. Peter was a good apostle because he had the courage to keep moving even when the circumstances were unfavourable. Stephen became the first Christian martyr because he had the courage to face a heroic death. St. Paul was successful in bringing the Good News to the gentile world because he had the courage to confront the difficulties he met on the way. Courage therefore means the ability to face difficulties and uncertainties without being overcome by the fear of the tribulations one might encounter.
In the first reading (Jer. 1:4-5, 17-19), we see the call of the prophet Jeremiah. God called him from the womb to be a prophet to the nations and immediately, God disposed his mind to encounter difficulties. He said to him: “They will fight against you, but shall not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you”. Today, we speak of Jeremiah’s success as a prophet because he was courageous enough to answer this call despite the difficulties and God did not let him down. Thus, courage is the ability to confront challenges believing not in your own power but in the power of God to save you from every danger.
In the gospel reading (Luke 4:21-30), we see in Jesus, the fulfillment of an ideal prophet to the nations. He also spoke with great courage to the synagogue audience despite all odds even aware of their tendency to kill him. He made them to understand that despite the familiarity and contempt with which they treated him, that he could still tell them the truth to their faces. Unfortunately, they were embittered and in an attempt to attack him Jesus escaped.
Beloved friends, at our baptism, we were called to be prophets of God and disciples of Jesus Christ which are no easy tasks. How courageous have we been in carrying out the demands of our Christian discipleship? As prophets, teachers and preachers do we have the courage to practice our devotions sincerely even when people mock us? Do we have the courage to speak against social injustice especially when the rich and mighty are involved, to condemn evil and to praise good? Do we have the courage to speak the truth even when there are severe consequences as Jesus did in the synagogue?
Even as listeners, do we have the courage to listen to the truth which condemns our actions and make possible amendment? Some of us like praise singers but detest those who tell us the bitter truth. Some of us even go to the extent of attacking or persecuting those who tell them the truth. Some accept the truth only when it is favourable to them but get enraged when it condemns their actions as Jesus’ audience did today. Therefore, as listeners and preachers of the Word, what should our response be when our courage is threatened?
The second reading (1 Cor. 12:31-13:13) exhorts us that our response should be to put on an attitude of love towards those we talk to and those who talk to us. By explaining the attributes of love, St. Paul tells us that love should be the motive of all our actions and the greatest of the virtues we can pray for or practice. In other words, love makes us judge the truth that is spoken and not the speaker. Love motivates our courage to speak and act correctly even when we do not have the passion. Love becomes the catalyst for all courageous acts even heroic martyrdom. Therefore, as prophets of God and disciples of Jesus Christ, let us be courageous enough to speak Christ and act Christ to our world troubled with secular humanism and be sure that God will always deliver us from all dangers. God loves you.