ELEVENTH SUNDAY ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B

PATI: A HOMILY ON THE 11TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR B, BY FR. IFEANYICHUKWU HENRY NWOKORO CSsR, ST. ANTHONY’S AND MARY Mnt.

Given your understanding of the word ‘Patience’, have you ever wondered why a sick person in the hospital is also called a ‘patient’? Both words are derived from the Latin word ‘Pati’ which means ‘suffer’. The same applies to the word ‘Passion’. This means that there is a strong connection between the words Patience, Patient and Passion.

THE PASSION OF JESUS

Thus says the Lord God : “I myself will take the spring from the lofty top of the cedar, and will set it out, and will break off from the top most of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it upon a high and lofty mountain, on the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bring forth boughs and bear fruit, and become a noble cedar, and under it will there dwell all kinds of beast, in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord bring low the high tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it”: The prophet Ezikael was in exile in Babylon. God made him to understand all the destruction that had taken place in Jerusalem, especially that of the temple. The bible often refered to the People of God as his garden or his tree. This tree of God has been destroyed and there seem to be no hope. It is from this fallen tree that God promises to break a tender twig and plant it on a high mountain. God always chooses the weak to establish that it is all his own doing. This twig can be understood as Jesus. He is the tender branch of the great cedar which is the House of David. However, this tender twig had to undergo suffering. This suffering is as a result of the love of God for us. Whenever someone loves something or someone, we often say they are passionate. But this word passionate is often used as having good feelings about something or someone. But considering the orign of the word and how it is used in relation to Christ, we see a God who is passionate about us, meaning that he loves us to the point of being prepared to suffer and die for us. You cannot say something is your passion if you will give it up in the face of difficulty. Passionate love is all about the amount of suffering you are able to endure for who or what you love. Jesus did not found his Church with smiles on his face. He did not bring about our salvation with smiles on his face. He suffered and died and he rose on the third day.

THE PATIENCE OF PAUL

Brethren: We are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith not by sight. We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. So that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.: St. Paul had to write a second letter to the Corrinthians because they did not accept his first letter well. The reason they did not accept his first letter was that they claimed he was not a true apostle. They also saw how much Paul was suffering and they wondered why he would be suffering so much if he is a true apostle of Jesus. To them, following Jesus does not make sense if one is to suffer like Paul. He recounts in this letter how he has been beaten several times, imprisoned several times, etc. But he tries to explain to them that all this is done for the passionate love he has for Jesus. He encourages them to have courage. He speaks of walking by faith rather than by sight. To him, it is all about pleasing the Lord, even if it means loosing himself in the process. It is this passionate love that makes him prepared to go through all he goes through, as long as he is with the Lord eventually.

PRACTICE MAKES CATHOLIC

At that time: Jesus said to the crowds, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” And he said “With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of the seeds on earth, yet when its sown it grows up and become the greatest of all the shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the bird of the air can make nests in its shade.” With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it, he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything: We live in a world that promises us as less suffering as possible, but Jesus did not promise us that. The two parables given here are very similar. The first speaks of the work of God in our lives as he works gently in our lives. We may want the growth of the seed to be drastic, but it doesnt work like that. Real growth takes time, and it involves a lot of patience and just like a patient in the hospital, one has to wait until the treatment takes effect. Being patient and being a patient involves suffering, and this is the only way true greatness is achieved.

The second parable focuses on the smallness of the mustard seed. Many of us want to be big, but we want that overnight. Think of the mustard seed. It is sown, and it first decomposes and it starts sprouting and it has to be watered, prunned, etc. There is a lot of patience required both on the part of the farmer and on the part of the plant.

If I consider myself God’s tree, then I should also learn to patiently cooperate with the working of the Holy Spirit in my life. Anybody who has tried to cooperate with the working of the Holy Spirit in his/her life, will come to a point where they start wondering if they will ever get it right. For example, you give your life to Christ, and just like St. Paul, it seems everything start going wrong from there. Maybe you find yourself committing the same sin over and over again and even after series of confession, you get tired of confessing the same sin over and over. Maybe there is an area of your life where you want a change and after many years of following Christ, there seem to be no improvement. You may wonder why you attend masses daily and it doesnt seem to make any difference. Sometimes we may look at other people and ask the same question. Think of the words Patience, Patient, Passion.

One day, a man and a priest were talking on the plain. They did not know each other before, but the man felt at home to share a lot of his personal struggles with the priest. He had told the priest that he is a catholic. The priest then asked him one of the usual questions “Are you a practicing catholic?” To which the man replied. “Yes, I am still practicing and I will continue to practice, until I become perfect.”

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