Homily for 18th Sunday in the Ordinary Time – Year B:
Theme: What Do We Seek?
1. The readings of this 18th Sunday of the year really interrogate us on the very reason of our faith and our basic orientation. Often we come to God or to Church with many ulterior motives, but God can never be deceived. We may, like the people in the Gospel of today, pretend to be seeking for Jesus when in fact we are looking for food and other material benefits. We find this insincerity in our daily relationships. False religiosity and moral confusion go hand on hand. Both explain the state of our society today.
2. In the first reading from Exodus 16, the people of Israel grumble against Moses and Aaron for bringing them out of Egypt and into suffering and hunger in the arid desert. In this, they seem to have forgotten so fast the inhuman situation they were subjected to in Egypt. God responds by giving them bread to eat. But the reason for giving them the miraculous bread is not just to satisfy their hunger, but to test them – “whether they will walk in my law or not.” What matters is walking with God and not getting satisfied. It is only the faithful follower who discovers that in following God, one does not really lack. But it needs faith and commitment to understand this. We are often blinded and deafened by our inordinate cravings. When God blesses us either with little or with plenty what He wants is that we keep following Him. In following God, hardship may be inevitable, but He has a way of dealing with it.
The psalmist of Psalm 78 sings it. God has a way of commanding all natural and supernatural forces to come to our aid in all precarious moments. He commands the clouds above and He opens the gates of heaven.
3. In the second reading, Paul admonishes his hearers to cast off the old nature and put on Christ. This is the only way we can do what God wants. It is the only way we can run away from corrupt and lustful practices. Putting on Christ is a more radical way of walking with God. In such a mode of living, only the will of Christ matters in our lives.
4. In the Gospel text of John 6, Jesus launches his discourse on the bread of life. As many pretend to be seeking for Jesus, he comes to unmssk their real intentions. They are searching for food and not for Jesus. We find such deceitful searches today in our religious pretences. While some try to worship in spirit and truth, many of the people who patronise our Churches and Prayer grounds are searching for mere material welfare and breakthrough. Such searches are not in themselves bad, but they become vitiated when they take the pride of place in our lives and when they are camouflaged with external religiosity.
In the Gospel, Jesus challenges the people to shun such deceptive approaches to life and seek for the things that really matter. Theses things that matter are summed up as Doing the works of God. What Does Jesus mean by doing the works of God? He means doing the will of God and believing in the one He sent and following him in all circumstances. Following Jesus is the new way of walking with God. The whole discourse on the bread of life centres on accepting Christ as one’s guide and support. All who follow shall neither hunger nor thirst. In other words, He guides them along the paths of refreshment and satisfaction.
5. As many people troop to Church and Prayer houses this Sunday, one cannot but ask: What Do they seek? Whom do they seek? Are they reading seeking God? But how is it possible that we all seek God and still hate ourselves?
How possible that we all seek God and still defraud all who come our way?
May God give us the grace of true religiosity! May He help us to seek Him in all situations so that the storms and cravings of this life may not destroy our real life in Him!
– Fr. Luke Ijezie