Deacon Steven Johnson’s Homily – January 13, 2022
1st Week Ordinary Time, Thursday, Year C
Readings: 1 Sm 4:1-11, Ps 44:10-11, 14-15, 24-25, Gospel Mk 1:40-45
Optional Memorial of St. Hilary, Bishop and Doctor
Theme: Sincere Faith
Sincerity is the quality or state of being sincere. In other words, having honesty of mind and freedom from hypocrisy. It is a virtue of purity and truth.
Most of the time we can discern the difference between someone who is sincere in their actions or speech and someone who is not. We have all run into that person who says they will help us and then never comes back. The sincere person follows through on their promise while the insincere person does not. It is like that person you greet at a party who shakes your hand and says how glad they are to meet you while the whole time looking at someone else more important behind you. There is no sincerity in that person’s greeting.
Now, imagine that God comes to you and wants to greet you. Do you take the time to focus your eyes on Him and speak to Him with sincerity, letting Him know that He matters to you enough to give Him your full attention? Are you really sincere when you speak to Him?
In today’s readings we get a good lesson on being sincere, especially with God. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were evil men who worked with Eli in the temple. They extorted the people and treated them poorly. They said their prayers and followed their religious norms but without sincerity for God. They only did it to maintain their status among the people and grow rich. When it came time to defend themselves in battle against the Philistines, they found themselves in trouble. So, they called on the Lord in the Ark to defend them, but He had left them to their own designs because of their insincerity, fake faith and sin. They paid the ultimate price for their sins and lack of faith with their very lives. Eli was forced to witness the death of his sons because he, too, shared in their sin against God.
On the other hand, we see what true sincerity really means when the leper saw Jesus. The leper knew exactly who Jesus was and had true faith that Jesus was capable of anything, even curing his leprosy. With great sincerity, the leper came to Jesus and knelt down, hands in prayer and head bowed down while saying, “If you wish, you can make me clean.” The leper first acknowledges Jesus’s holy power by humbly handing over his request to Jesus’s decision to help or not. Then he said that Jesus can make him clean if He so chooses. He did not say, “Is it possible for you to make me clean?” or “Can you ask God to help make me clean?” The leper knew exactly who Jesus was and with all humility and sincerity, he asked Him to make him clean and so Jesus cleansed him. Both these stories show that God expects us to be sincere in our prayers and requests and to know that He can make them come true. Those who are not sincere in prayer and do not try to live a life of holiness, following the teachings of Christ, must not expect anything from God.