From the pastor’s desk
Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time– Year C– Refuse to be mastered by passing things and have the
knowledge of the ways of God.
The wise-man of the Old Testament today tells us that the ways of God, his counsels and what he intends are beyond our knowledge and our deliberations. The reason for our inability to unravel the ways of God is because they are in the realms of mystery. Following the Platonic concept of reality, that whatever we see here in the universe, is the shadowy image of reality itself in the really real world, St. Augustine in his theory of knowledge,
believes that the unaided natural mind of mankind, cannot really comprehend what is around him in the universe, unless aided by the Divine illumination. The Augustinian concept is echoed today in our Old Testament reading that asks: “for what man knows God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?” There are reasons why human mind finds it difficult to understand even earthly things while it is united to a corruptible body. The main reason is that we are suffering under the weight of sin and corruption, burdened by worldly concerns. In Wisdom literature, it is stated that we are unable to grasp the things of God, unless God had given wisdom and sent his Holy Spirit to help us.
God poured out the Holy Spirit abundantly on us, through Jesus Christ our Savior (see Titus 3:6). Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, God comes to our aid. The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness (see Romans 8:36) in this way, he makes us to have the mind of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16) and helps us to discern the ways of God. Through the working of the Holy Spirit we ask ourselves serious questions in the lives of the friends of God like Paul. Some of the questions arise from the fact that Paul found himself a prisoner in chains, about to face death by beheading, after enjoying freedom propagating the good news of Christ’s life, death and resurrection. The Holy Spirit helps us understand the will of God to be transformed into images and likenesses of Christ, called to have a share in his joyful mysteries, sorrowful mysteries and glorious mysteries. That is why, Jesus in the gospel is telling
us about the cost of discipleship. It is a life changing reality, calling on us to transform our ways, giving Jesus the first place in our priorities. Our natural love for our parents, brothers and sisters, must be transformed and purified with the love of Christ. In Christ, with Christ and through Christ, we must perfect our natural love for our family members. Today, Jesus is using the Semitic way of comparing to speak to us, telling us that love for him should be number one in our lives and all other loves must be perfected and purified with the purest love of God. Human way of loving is the admixture of love and hate. But Christ’s love which is God’s love is the most perfect way. Jesus
would tell us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for his friends (John 15:13).
The Saints who loved Jesus have taught us how to advance in the knowledge of the ways of God and attain divine
love. Meister Eckhart 1260-1328 has taught us how, like Zacchaeus, we can overcome our shortness in stature by
climbing the Sycamore tree to catch a glimpse of Jesus passing by. According to him, we can do this through the
way of detachment from material things and all creatures, in order to have virginal souls cleansed only for the
habitation of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. The mystics of the Church have also followed in his line of
teaching. Among them were saints like—St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Gertrude, St. Catherine of Siena,
Blessed Justin Russolillo and a host of others. It is through detachment that we rise above the limitations of the
flesh and material things and receive the divine aid of illumination and inspiration which enable us to experience
the ways of God. In this way we attain freedom and refuse to be mastered by passing things that make us blind to the
things of the earth. These passing things also make us unable to comprehend the things of heaven. In this way, as we
attain our own freedom, we can help to secure the freedom of others, as St. Paul did for Onesimus who was once a
slave of Philemon. St. Paul during his imprisonment, received Onesimus who was a run-away slave and made
him a Christian and sent him back to his master, Philemon no longer as a slave, but an equal brother in Christ.
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, Phd