READINGS: Jeremiah 1: 4-5, 17-19/ 1 Cor. 12: 31-13:13/ Luke 4: 21-30
4th Sunday in Ordinary Time homily

Once upon a time, a king by name Benedictus sent his only son to deliver some gifts including priceless gems to another king by name Aviditus. The prince was accompanied by an entourage of about fifty men. On their way to deliver the load of gifts to King Aviditus, they had a terrible accident. Their caravan of horses and camels fell into a very deep ditch. Only the prince managed to climb out of the ditch with the priceless gems, though their container was badly damaged.

Bruised, tarted and alone, the prince continued on his journey to the palace of King Aviditus. Tired and looking like an unkempt bigger, he eventually arrived at the palace of King Aviditus. Unfortunately, though, when the king set his eyes on him with the ugly box in his hands, he had no patience to listen to him. He immediately ordered that the prince be driven away.

Meanwhile, King Aviditus was indebted to Emperor Inimicus and he had been given ultimatum to pay. Ironically, the priceless gems concealed in the ugly box were more than enough to pay his debt. Unfortunately, he missed the opportunity to pay his debt; so, the Emperor dethroned and exiled him.

In this story, King Benedictus represents God the Father and the prince represents Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. The priceless gift which Jesus carries to us is eternal life. Despite falling into the ditch of death, Jesus has arisen to bring us the priceless gift. As the prince with the priceless gift appeared like an unkempt beggar with a dirty alms-box to King Aviditus, so sometimes we are tempted to see as undesirable Jesus and the gift of eternal life. But, beloved, if we reject Jesus, we lose “big time” – we lose eternal life with Him, the Father and the Holy Spirit as well as the hosts of angels and saints in heaven.

Besides, as the end of King Aviditus was most miserable because of his indebtedness to the Emperor, so if we reject Jesus and the gift of eternal life, our end will be forever miserable in the abode of Satan.

Therefore, let us not be like King Aviditus who rejected the prince nor like the people of Nazareth who, according to today’s gospel reading, rejected Jesus (cf. Luke 4: 21-30). The people of Nazareth rejected Jesus by driving Him out of the town, with the intention of throwing Him down the hill upon which it was sited. We will never physically encounter Jesus to physically reject Him. However, there are several ways by which we may reject Him.

Firstly, a lack of faith in Jesus as the Son of God is a rejection of Him; for it is written: “Those who believe in Him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:18).

Secondly, according to today’s second reading, “love is patient and kind” (1 Cor. 13:4). However, King Aviditus did not have the patience and kindness to recognize the prince; hence, he rejected him as he looked like a poor beggar. Similarly, we reject Jesus when we fail to see Him in the poor and assist them (cf. Matt. 25:31-46).

Thirdly, whenever we persecute Christians or harm the Church, we reject Jesus. This was what Saul learnt when he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus with a mandate to persecute Christians (cf. Acts 9:1-22).

Fourthly, we reject Jesus whenever we do not accept His teachings. Besides rejecting an explicit teaching of Jesus (e.g., the doctrine of eternal life), we reject His teachings whenever we accept and promote an idea or a course that is against God’s Word or will. For instance, God’s written Word teaches us that marriage is a divine institution established between a man and a woman. However, today some nations have re-defined marriage to include the union of persons of the same sex. Thus, what God has joined together in His institution which predates the establishment of any nation and the making of human laws (constitutions), some nations have dared to put asunder. This is a pure rejection of God!

Fifthly, we reject Jesus whenever we sin. For instance, God commands us: “I am the Lord your God…. you shall have no other god besides me” (Exodus 20:1-3). We, therefore, reject God whenever we worship other gods. These idols could be evil spirits or any other thing or even a person whose importance in our lives competes with or replaces the unique place God must have in our lives.

Beloved, among the various ways by which we can reject Jesus, I have mentioned only five of them – namely, whenever:

  • We do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God
  • We fail to see Jesus in the poor and assist them
  • We persecute Christians or harm the Church
  • We don’t accept His teachings or rather we accept and promote a course that is against God’s Word or will;
  • We sin

Beloved, to reject Jesus, who is the giver of eternal life, is to reject the heavenly life that has no end. Therefore, let us pray that we will never reject Jesus. May God grant us the abundance of grace to remain ever close to Him. Amen!

By Very Rev. Fr. John K. Louis

Bishop John Kobina Louis

Most Rev. John Kobina Louis is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana. More about him here.

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Catholic Homilies and Sermons for the Liturgical Year by Most Rev. John Kobina Louis, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana.

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