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Jan 28, 2017 Written by 

4th Sunday ordinary time year A Be the first to comment!

sermon

Theme: Trusting in the Lord is our success

What memories do we have when we celebrate our Independence Day? History tells us that on 9th October 1962, Uganda declare her independence from the British rule. Independence means self-rule which determines a nation’s direction, goals and priorities. With the same mindset, the reading we have today invites us to consider a similar perspective whereby we acknowledge being free citizens of a new world depending solely on God.

In order to formulate such an attitude, it is necessary to stand and walk in truth. In the truth of who God is, and who we are before him, we generate awareness that God is our Creator and Redeemer. After being independent from evil and other addictions, God makes a new people, a holy nation and a people that are priests to serve Him patriotically. Each of today’s readings, Zephaniah, Paul and Matthew composes a motion in which each one of us is reminded to make a Declaration that God is the one on whom we live, move and have our being.

First reading: Zephaniah 2:3, 3:12-13

Over one hundred years before Zephaniah ministered as prophet to his people, Prophet Amos in the years 783-743 B.C had warned of the destruction which would befall the unfaithful, proud and the selfish. A southerner from Tekoa in Judah, Amos was sent by God to the northern kingdom of Israel with an appeal to return to that covenantal fidelity and dependence on God which was to be the central focus of God’s chosen ones. As Amos called his contemporaries to “Seek good and not evil and to seek Yahweh and so find life” Amos 5:4, 14. He also warned that there would be no chance of escaping God’s justice. It will be, said Amos, “as when a man escapes a lion’s mouth only to meet a bear; he enters his house and puts his hand on the wall, only for a snake to bite him!” Amos 5:19-20. Faced with such gruesome prospects, his hearers asked the prophet if anyone would survive. His response was as graphic as his warning: “Like a shepherd rescuing a couple of legs or a bit of an ear from the lion’s mouth, so will these sons of Israel be rescued” Amos 3:12.

Amos’ description of couple of legs or bit of an ear, snatched from the jaws of a lion is the first scriptural reference to the remnant of Israel and the foundation of a theological motif which would be developed by later prophets and would come to full flower in the Christian scriptures. As prophesied, Israel was destroyed and as promised, a remnant did survive. Zephaniah the successor of Amos and prophet to Israel during the reign of Josiah during 640-609 B.C reprised Amos’ message and warned that Judah would know a similar fate. But like his predecessor, Zephaniah also promised that God would preserve a remnant; the humble who do no wrong and speak no lies and who in truth remain dependent on God, will live. To the humble remnant, anawim in Hebrew, belong the promise of a secure future; “they shall pasture and couch their flocks with none to disturb them” Zephaniah 2:13.

In analyzing the meaning of the anawim, we can say that the oracle of Zephaniah in 3:11-13 announced the future realization of an ideal which he could see taking place before his eyes and which he had helped to realize. Zephaniah insisted that poverty should be substituted for pride and called for the integrity of the whole moral life. Today, Prophet Zephaniah challenges us to be humble, lowly and dependent on God if we want to have a bright future. Autonomy and self-sufficiency are the by-words of most of contemporary society but they are in fact the new idols that we are worship.

It is precisely the spirituality of the remnant/anawim that Jesus would demand of his followers, calling them and us to ask each day’s bread in total dependence on the Father, to set our hearts first on the kingdom, to store up only treasures that will last, to stand in truth before God and to pray that, have mercy on me, a sinner! Offering himself as an example of the spirit of dependence to which he called his disciples, Jesus invites us with these words, “Learn from me, for I am meek and humble, tapeinos in Greek; anaw in Hebrew of heart.” Matthew 11:28. Therefore, those who stand in truth before God as the humble of the earth with both feet-on-the-ground will have life which does not dissemble or prevaricate. From the vantage point of truth, a humble person acknowledges that need for God which is integral to very being. In a word, the truly humble person makes a declaration of dependence on God; then Zephaniah would affirm that such a human person is forever sheltered by the Lord and takes refuge in his name.

Second reading: 1Corinthians 1:26-31

In this letter to the Corinthians Paul calls us to examine ourselves honestly before God. By so doing, we would have to admit that we are not particularly wise or influential. Nor are we well-born or strong; rather we are just simple and even despised. Nevertheless, God has chosen to give us life in Jesus, by whom we are justified, sanctified and redeemed. Given our situation; the only wise thing to do would be for us to boast of the Lord’s goodness and to declare our dependence on him. In any given congregation gathered together for liturgical worship, an interesting phenomenon can be observed. People from every social class, from varying ethnic backgrounds and from different economic situations, people of all ages, of both genders and from all races, people with differing levels of intellectual and physical ability, people of every mood and character and every size and shape have come together in one place, at the same time for only one reason; because God has chosen to call each of them to himself and has give each one called the grace necessary to respond to him.

Paul had made a similar observation regarding the Christian community in Corinth and in an effort to focus their attention on God rather than on themselves; he reminded them of that fact. Granted, the early Church did include among its members some people of high rank in society, such as Dionysius of Athens cf. Acts 17:34, Sergius Paulus, the proconsul of Crete cf. Acts 13:6-12, Lydia, the fabric merchant from Thyatira cf. Acts 16:12-15 and Erastus, city comptroller of Corinth as it is revealed in Romans 16:33. But for the most part, Christianity appealed to simple, humble people many of whom were slaves. Slaves in the ancient world were regarded as ‘living tools’ and the property of their master who could use, abuse, and discard them as he wished. That is why we can applause the dignity and nobility which baptism imparted on converts. After receiving baptism, one became a Christian and only Christianity made people who were things into real men and women, more, into sons and daughters of God. Christianity gave those who had no respect their self-respect. Christianity told men who in the eyes of the world were worthless, that, in the eyes of God they were worth the death of his only Son. Jesus Christ had liberated each one of them by dying on the Cross at Calvary.

Recalling the fact that few among the Corinthians were wise, influential or well-born, Paul underscored the fact that intelligence, affluence and social status are of no consequence in the realm of faith and religion. Indeed, the pitfall of all three is that they easily lead to selfishness and eventually to self-destruction. To deepen their awareness of their absolute dependency on God, Paul told them three times that God chose them which is mentioned twice in verse 27, once in verse 28. Then he set forth what has been called the Pauline gospel. Having thus chosen, not the wise but the absurd, not the strong but the weak, not the well-born and esteemed but the low-born and the despised, God gave them life in Christ Jesus. It is he who is the “wisdom, justice, sanctification and redemption of the believer” 1Corinthians 1:30. In other words, Jesus is the reason for and source of all knowledge of God, of being in right relationship with God, of holiness and of salvation. Although we live in a Church that is over 2000 years older than the Corinthian community, Jesus continues to be the reason for which each of us has come here today. God has chosen each of us and blessed us with life in him. For our part, we can only humbly, gratefully declare our dependence on him.

Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12

Whenever people are living together as a community, they will need to agree on some common guideline so that their aim, mission and vision is achieved. These guidelines are what we call the Constitution or a ratified fundamental law of government. For many Nations, the oldest written national document still in operation is the Constitution which defines the principal organs of government, their jurisdictions and the basic rights of all citizens. In a sense, the Community that was following Matthew in the eighties A.D found itself in circumstances comparable to any Nation. Certain events had made it necessary for the community to organize and to define itself apart from its Jewish matrix.

When Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by Titus the Roman General in 70 AD, both Jews and Christians were forced from the city. In order to survive and preserve their traditions, a group of Jewish thinkers, under the leadership of Rabbi Johannen ben Zakkai, gathered at Jamnia near the Mediterranean coast. Here the academy of Jamnia offset fragmentation by asserting the rabbis’ authority as interpreters of the law and regulators of Jewish life. Part of their efforts at reorganization included the expulsion of pagans and other heretical groups from their midst. It was at this point around 85 AD that Jewish Christians, who were labelled as minim / Hebrew, were officially expelled from the Jewish community and from the synagogue. Matthew’s gospel, and in particular the Great Sermon that we are reflecting upon today was a Christian response to Jamnia.

Because of the breach between Church and synagogue and because of the increasing number of Gentile Christians, Matthew’s audience had to identify itself apart from and yet still somehow rooted in Judaism. In addition to establishing its identity, this community was also required to organize itself around a new source of authority. Whereas formerly the Torah had been their guide and inspiration, it became necessary for Christians to adapt, as it were, a new law or constitution. In the Great Sermon, Matthew was able to find a new identity and provide a new authority; both of which found their source in Jesus. Jesus came not as abolisher but as the fulfiller of the law; as such he is presented in the Great Sermon as teaching, “You have heard it said…but I say to you” Matthew 5:22-48.

For Christians, Jesus, in his words and works is the new source of authority and teaching. In helping them to find their true identity, Jesus called his disciples to live according to the spirit of the anawim, the humble remnant who declare dependence on God the source of their life and joy. Called ‘blessed’ are the poor in spirit who have surrendered self-will, selfishness and every other base of security to welcome the reign of God. Also blessed are the sorrowing, the lowly, and those who hunger and thirst for holiness. These are basic dispositions that are necessary before God and for the believer to so identify himself/herself is to become open to receiving his gifts. The final four beatitudes, describe those whose dependence on God has made them sharers in the task of preaching and furthering his reign. The merciful, the single-hearted, the peacemakers and the persecuted are thereby blest because of their identification with Jesus, in his person and in his mission.

Application

Dependence of God is a strong expression of faith, let us learn it and put it in practice. We are who we are mainly because of the love of God, therefore let us not boast of our achievements; instead let us always be grateful. Today, the words of the beatitudes which are the constitution for the new people of God invite us to consider anew our dependence on God, to acknowledge him as the supreme authority in our lives and to find the source of our identity in him.

 

458 Last modified on Saturday, 04 February 2017 09:27
Ronald Ojilong

I have so much attraction to the service of the church which i do so passionately. All my life, i have lived in the service of the Lord especially through singing in Church and this is my passion, I attribute all this to the foundation i got in my Primary school, St. Kizito Primary School which moulded me to love church service. Here, find reflections to improve your faith, I also invite you to join us at Mbuya and praise the lord. You'll love being part of our community. 

I also invite you to promote this, our Parish website that gives us global outlook to enable us reach and evangilize to millions all around the world. You may do this through promoting the site to all your friends and families online and you may also donate to this project through the office of the Parish priest to enable us upgrade and keep uptodate with the Latest technologies.

May the Good Lord keep and bless you all the days of your life.

Contact: +256776070487 / +256714070487

Email: rojilong@ourladyofafrica.org

 

Website: www.ourladyofafrica.org

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About Our Church

Welcome to Our Lady of Africa Parish Mbuya. We are located near Bugolobi Township in Nakawa Division. It is about 5 kms from the City Centre of Kampala. Mbuya Catholic Parish is a vibrant and diverse community made up of people from different parts of Uganda. We welcome you warmly and joyfully.

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