We are all God’s people, called to promote His values in the world. Everyone is involved. The priest and religious who answered the call to leave home, leave friends and brothers to walk in the Lord for the salvation of mankind meet with difficulties in their calls. The early Apostles met with the same difficulties. Even the prophets of God in early years met with the same difficulties. Many were maltreated, killed and burnt alive because their messages were not milk and honey. People like Jeremiah witnessed horrible and untold miseries, and maltreatment meted on him were unbearable.
Today many people are afraid to speak about God in adult society because of reprimands. But the prophets of the old did not follow these protocols. Even the 21st century prophets. Archbishop Oscar Ray Murray gave a voice to what was happening in his country. When the politics of that time was very destructive he spoke and challenged the power. He was shot at the altar when he was saying mass. He was not neutral to what was happening which reminds us of what one of the philosophers said “The hottest place in hell is waiting for those who in times of moral crises maintain neutrality”
The firebrand prophet, John De Baptist was imprisoned and his head was cut off because of a woman who preferred to live in sin than live in God. He called a spade a spade. The lives of the saints revealed their spiritual life styles and what they went through and how their spiritual legacies inspire us to go ahead in the midst of our own difficulties.
The twenty first century lay people are called to marriage life. The sincere ones also experience difficulties in living the truth of the gospel. They called them names, they heap insults on them and cajoled them and make them look like fools. Imagine the fragile faith of the modern man. We are witnessing the spiritual mess of the modern man who indulges in earthly things and politics of ethnicity than live in God that created him. He fights anybody who mentions God before him because he has disowned God and abandoned the values that should sustain him. Religion has no meaning for him even though at the social gathering he wears sacramental as spiritual strappings for recognition. Deep down he looks down on his fellow Church men who try to go to church every day and spread the gospel in there environs.
The modern man might come to church with other motives, he is there as a spectator not as an active participant in the celebration of the Mass. He may not come out when others are coming for offertory. For him that is not his business. One wonders why he comes to church. This is a dilemma of the modern Christians of today. Such a Christian needs God seriously, but who can help such a man? We have many of such in our churches today that lack meaning and purpose of life. What the Legionaries experience during their home visitations is terrible too. Each time they visit the lukewarm Christians they give them excuses why they are not going to church. Some say that the preaching of the priests are too long and do not stimulate them and always talk of money. Some say they do not know what the priests are doing with the money they give each Sunday.
They leave their spiritual hang-ups and crises of faith and engage the Legionaries on matters that are irrelevant to avoid their inner insecurity that disturbs them. They build up hostility, emptiness of life that does not give way for spiritual rebirth. The Legionary who meet such people if they do not have enough spiritual strength may be converted by those they are trying to convert. We need strong faith to meet the vendors of false values of this world. The world is heading to pseudo philosophy of life. Man is no longer looking for spiritual satisfaction but pseudo satisfaction, he looks for drugs to escape the realities of life, he indulges in alcohol, obscene magazines and rock music that by-passes the conscience.
The ill treatment meted out to some individuals given a task to mobilize people for a church project some years ago was a rude shock and an eye opener. The Christians who sit comfortably in the church to sing and dance are different people when they are at home. Many visited were hostile to receive them. Some opened their doors while some from their upstairs dismissed them with a wave of hand. Some said “you dare not come here again”. Those sent were wounded and shocked by what was coming out from the mouth of their fellow Christians. They would have stayed in their comfort zones or be a’ la carte Christians and not to go out to receive insults but that is the way the people think they can help their church. The prayers of the church are with them. Jesus will surprise those who fight for him in this tangled world. The world is full of “oju aye” (people who do eye service). Those who work for Jesus should be consoled with this statement “The reproaches they make on me rest also on you. How they treated me is how those who lack faith will treat you”.
We need brave and truthful Christians today to confront the evils of our time. Jesus is not coming again to preach but the legacy he left behind is enough for us. It is a pity that the modern man gets his values from the social media of today. Unless we are moved by the compassionate Jesus and work and live the truth of the gospel we cannot get a space in the kingdom of God where only the just will inherit.
Lip service to God and insensitivity to what is happening cannot help us to earn a space in the kingdom of justice.
VERY. REV. MSGR LIVINUS UKAH
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