Self-Sacrifice – A Homily by Rev Fr Father Istifanus Sheyin
Today, the church gives us the opportunity to learn the spirit of self-sacrifice and commitment. This spirit of self-sacrifice makes us accomplish even what appears to be impossible. In the letter of Paul to Philippians 2: 6-11, we are told that Christ emptied himself to take the form of a servant. He gave up everything for us and this makes the sacrifice beyond human comprehension. We do not understand how a Messiah can go through such hardship. This is why the first reading asks, ‘who can understand the mind of God?’
The prophet Isaiah says that God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not ours. God is beyond time and space. St Thomas Aquinas refers to God as the unmoved mover. We cannot know His mind and are limited by what we see. But God knows what we do not know and sees what we do not see. This is why things may seem foolish to us but God sees what we do not see and so acts from the position of knowledge and wisdom. If as Christians we are able to understand this fact, we will approach life with humility. This is because in this life, you only know to the extent that God gives you knowledge.
One of the things God uses to humble us is time. God controls time. Often, God gives us opportunities but we think we have time until we realise that we have no time anymore. God wants us to use time judiciously. When we fail to use it, God always leaves us with the memories of the glories of the past. We must be careful to use what God has given us and help our neighbours as well.
There are several ways that we can identify with God. One of such is by making our heart resemble His heart. The content of his heart is mercy, love, forgiveness, etc. Secondly, in the gospel, on His way, Christ said Christianity is not a religion of excessive comfort or pleasure but that of sacrifice. We must cling to the sacrificial mind of Christ and enter through the narrow door. If we make up our minds to come to him, we must hate Father, mother, and ourselves. We must carry our crosses. This means God comes first before your own businesses. You cannot say you completely belong to the world and belong to Jesus at the same time. It’s only when God is given His proper place that everything falls into the proper place. We pray that we use all opportunities given to us by God so that at the end, we may behold the beatific vision through Christ our Lord. Amen.