Homily, Thirty First Sunday in the Ordinary Time, Year A

The Death of Christianity

By Fr. Henry Charles Umelechi

“The Emperor Napoleon is said to have confronted Cardinal Consalvi, the secretary of state to Pope Pius VII, saying that he, Napoleon, would destroy the Church, to which the Cardinal deftly responded, “Oh, my little man, you think you’re going to succeed in accomplishing what centuries of priests and bishops have tried and failed to do?” Many have gloried in this statement quoting it always and often. But the death of Christianity is possible and it’s gradual.

The death of Christianity would not happen if Christianity is banned or hated by non Christians or by physical destruction by external forces. The death of Christianity would happen by consistent hypocrisy of christians (head and members) and the arrogance that feeds the hypocrisy of christians who live contrary to the Christian life. This has put many out of the Christian fold but listen:

An American teacher was employed in Japan on the understanding that during school hours he should not utter a word on the subject of Christianity. He kept faithfully to his promise.

He lived an exemplary Christian life before his students, but he never spoke a word about it to them. After some years his example became so compelling that, unknown to him, forty of his students met secretly in the woods and signed a secret covenant to abandon Buddhism. Of these, 25 later entered the Kyoto Christian Training School and trained to go out and preach the Gospel which their teacher had made so attractive.

Do you now understand why Jesus vehemently attacked the Jewish leaders (Mathew 23: 3-4), “but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practise what they preach,” which is exactly what many of us do today, especially many Christian leaders. Many just say things that sweetens the ears of their followers even if it means turning the gospel upside down and/or avoiding it. Who do you follow, your parish priest, pastor, Bishop, Evangelist, Apostle, etc or Christ Jesus? Hypocrisy killed Judaism of the past and shall kill Christianity of today if christians do not adhere to Christ’s teachings.

Irrespective of the silence of the American, his actions were so eloquent that it spoke more than Words. What would have happened if he came a hypocrite by living contrary to Christian life?

Do you want to know what will happen if christians practiced Christ’s teachings? Many souls shall be converted to good and to Christ, the society would have changed. Not much word shall be needed and love shall triumph.

But would arrogance allow us? Just like the Jewish leaders and Mathew’s community, our arrogance today has blinded us not to see our faults, to teach falsely just to gain followers, fame and follow false teachings and teachers. The prophet Malachi warned of this “But you, you have strayed from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your teaching (Malachi 2:8).” The truth has remained consistent that hypocrisy destroys God’s people and humanity. This is because it sets forth so much contradiction that discourage good people to become bad and strengthens the evil ones.

However, St. Paul who practiced what he preached remains correct when he said that  Christ’s teaching is God’s message and not some human thinking; and it is still a living power among you who believe it (1 Thessalonians 2:13) and that’s why no matter the arrogance and hypocrisy, we Christians should listen to Jesus who told us that “You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do (Mathew 23: 3). That is, Christians should listen to the good teachings and do them and avoid the distractions that come from hypocrisy and arrogance of christian leaders and fellow Christians. Only the humble can see and correct his or her fault.

Meanwhile, what this teacher did in Japan is very well put in a small poem which goes like this:

“You are writing a Gospel,

A chapter each day

By the deeds that you do,

And the words you write,

Men read what you write,

If its false or it’s true.

Now what is the Gospel

According to you?”

Christianity survives today, not because of the hierarchy, fame, power, cultic followership but because of the faithfulness of Christians sometimes majorly in the pews, like the American teacher employed in Japan. So, don’t give up the good teachings you have heard.


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