Perseverance and Repentance: Right Christian Attitudes – Homily by Revd. Fr. Valentine Ibe Nzekah
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A.
Psalm 24:4-5.6-7.8-9 (R.6a)
Perseverance is the attitude of continuing in a course of action without regard to discouragement, opposition or previous failure. Obedience to the will of God echoes through all the readings of this Sunday. The first reading calls for perseverance in obeying God’s commands, the second reading shows us the example of Christ who though was in the form of God, did not count equality with God but emptied himself to die on the Cross in obedience to the Father. The gospel opens doors of repentance to us when we fail in our obedience to God. Repentance and perseverance are therefore virtues and attitudes worth acquiring.
In the first reading, God rebukes Israel for accusing him to be unjust. It is they who were unjust instead. What happened was that the people had forgotten that it was they who went astray. God had entered a covenant with them and demanded faithfulness from them, and in Exodus 19:8, they had promised Moses saying, “all that the Lord has commanded, we will obey”. However, no sooner had they made this promise than they went contrary to their promise; worshipping idols, burning incense at shrines, oppressing the poor, committing adultery, stealing and doing all manner of wrongdoings in God’s sight. So, when they were taken into slavery, they grumbled. This story is not so different from our experiences. Sometimes when unfortunate incidences happen to us, our first call is usually, “oh God why? Why me?” Not too many think of how they may have caused it by their actions or inactions. If we learn to listen to God and hear from Him first, we will be more conscious of our failings and ask for mercy instead.
And so repentance becomes a reference word for us today. In the first reading, repentance is presented as a life-saving act. So when an evil man turns from his evils and does good, He shall live. At the confessional therefore we receive a reinvigorated life in the spirit. We unload all our worries unto him whose burden is light. For this reinvigorated life to bear fruit, it needs to be sustained through perseverance in good works, otherwise, the life is lost again. So, when a righteous man ceases to do good and turns to evil, he shall die. Fruitfulness in this light comes from perseverance.
We can therefore be rest assured that we will not die when we persevere in good works. To those who are about losing their faith because of the delays in life, those who have long overdue unanswered prayers, those who seek desperately for the fruit of the womb, those who await longingly for their promotions, those looking to God alone for a breakthrough, may I say to you that perseverance in faith still works.
To persevere, however, our faith must go deeper than mere lips service. We must develop a working faith. Not the yes of the second son in the gospel who backed out when it was time to act. The Israelites also paid lips service to God’s commandments and so were taken into slavery and instead of repenting, they asked God why? Let us not be like that, let our faith be a working faith. Let your yes to our Good and gracious God be Yes and your No to satan and his manipulations be No. Repentance that is true, therefore, should lead us to persevere in keeping the good works that replace them.
God bless you and have a great week.