A HOMILY DELIVERED ON A MOTHER’S SUNDAY AT UNN VOL.7 NO.11
OTITO DIRI JESU KRISTI!
It is difficult to understand the nature of today’s Mother’s Sunday celebration when the lives you mothers carried for nine months and brought to existence are facing the danger of death. I pity more those young mothers whose first experience of such a Sunday is today. However, it shall never be celebrated this way next year! (they all responded Amen!)
The wisdom and providence that guides the Holy Mother Church in the placement of reading is really awesome and unfathomable as today’s readings address the gory situation the whole world has found herself.
The first reading (Ez.37:11-14) is an interpretation of a vision that occurred from vs. 1-10. This vision occurred as Jerusalem falls. It has become a cemetery, and there is no hope for her people anymore. Ezekiel vision restores hope “Dry bones…. I am going to put spirit into you that you may live (37:5). The imagery takes us back to the creation story (Gen 2:7) where God’s own breadth gives man life.
In the interpretation which is the first reading, we are told that the bones symbolized the situation of Israel in exile as dead and buried in the grave. And in vs. 12, the lord God says “I am going to open your graves, I shall bring you out of your graves, my people … and you will know that I am the lord.
Of course this promise was fulfilled in the life of Israel. God allowed them to suffer in exile under the Babylonians and used another nation, the Persians, to redeem them.
A more practical demonstration of this vision is found in the New Testament. Precisely in two dimensions; the first is particular while the second Is general. In particular, we see its fulfilment in the Gospel of today in which Christ himself opened the grave of Lazarus after four days, and brought him to life. And in general, we could observe that immediately after giving physical life to Lazarus, Christ faced his own condemnation and death which redeemed us from the exile of original sin brought by our first parents many centuries ago and offered us a spiritual life. This vision therefore points to the idea that our Lord has power over the resurrection of the body and after life.
Far more significantly, we could observe that this vision which was fulfilled in the Old Testament times in the liberation of Israel from Babylon, assured in the New Testament through the raising of Lazarus from the grave and also accomplished in the paschal mystery of Christ that redeemed us from the sin of our first parents. This same vision shall and is finding divine relevance in our own time.
Just like Jerusalem, where the temple of sacrifice is situated, was deserted and became a cemetery when Ezekiel offered Israel hope that God has not abandoned them, so also is Rome, the seat of the Church, from which our Holy Father Pope Francis offered us hope two days ago when he granted plenary indulgence to the whole world and assured us that the storm shall be over, that everything works unto good for those who love God. And in addition to that assurance, he prayed Lord to increase our faith.
This prayer for the increase of faith is predicated on the fact that this is one of the most trying times in our own generation. A period that denied us joy of public worship and offering of sacrifice just like the Israelites of old.
Remember, in the Old Testament, many were complaining and crying against God’s omnipotence, while some stood firm in the vision of Ezekiel, how many of us shall entrust our faith and hope on the assurance of the Holy Father? For the carnal, the absence of public mass is a break and for the spiritual, time to put prayers on a top gear. This is the moment of testify those who really worship God in spirit and truth.
In the second reading (Rom 8:8-11), St Paul tells us that through this spirit, the power of sin, death and law can be confronted and overcome. It is this spirit that reigned in the family of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, who were virtually the only family friend of Jesus among the Jews, a family in today’s gospel that had time for God in good times and in bad. A family that abandoned their consolers and ran to Jesus even when he delayed to their brother illness until he died. Even when they were not expecting the raising of Lazarus, this family made a perfect confession of faith like that of St. Peter in Mt.16:16. “You are the Christ the son of God”. Above all, they brought the non believers to the feet of Jesus. Which families shall meet up with this challenge, in these difficult times?
My beloved mothers, today that we are celebrating you though on a very low key, I say Happy Mother’s day. You have a special role to play in this historical situation. I therefore wish to refer you to the woman who took motherhood to another level, our Blessed Mother Mary. Among other virtues, Two major things to emulate from her are first her submission to God. I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word. Second, her selflessness to humanity; to her son, husband, cousin Elizabeth, couples at cana and many others. It is this selflessness of mothers that Niko Mbango immortalized in his musical lyrics on sweet mother. Let these two major virtues of submission and selflessness be seen in the manner you retain the spirit of God, at your family especially during these trying times.
And to you my beloved in Christ, let us not just appreciate mothers today but always. Let us make it easy for them to continue to play their God given function in our respective families and in the society at large. And by so doing, they would remain the idols they were created to be. PEACE BE TO YOU!