Grace to you!
Because of the need to address what is going on in Nigeria at the moment, my reflection today will be different.
I wish to appeal to God’s Word asking for the difficult religious duty of praying for those in government, especially when they act in ways that make us doubt if they have regard for the value of human life and the common good. The inspired writer of 1Tim 2:1-3 admonished Christians to keep a positive attitude and intercede for everyone, including kings.
“I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God, our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim 2:1-4).
If you are familiar with biblical history, you will understand that by the time this letter was written, Christians suffered terrible persecutions from the kings of territories where they lived. People were massacred and many unjust policies were implemented.
I know to practice this biblical appeal isn't an easy call. However, it is the Christian call.
In many parts of the world, we have cases where, evidently, “kings” act recklessly and seem to care less about the dignity of the human person. From North Korea to the Middle East and a number of countries in Africa, we are troubled by the audacity of evil.
I am particularly concerned about a recent situation in Nigeria. Over the past week, we have seen and heard an awful lot about the reckless killing of civilians in Abia State in the eastern part of Nigeria by the members of the Nigerian military. Teens, young adults, and even women and children have been subjected to untold violence and victimization.
The pictures I have seen on social media and those sent directly to me by reliable people on ground, make me sick in the stomach. My heart bleeds. They remind me of the worst forms of human brutality comparable to the dark ages of history. I wonder if the United Nations is waiting for another Rwanda genocide before something has to be done.
The recklessness of the so-called “Python Dance” parade by the Nigerian military, which turned out to be a python slaughter of citizens; and the total silence (if not tacit justification of these by the presidency and some governors) makes one wonder what is going on. I’m not interested in which political affiliations are tussling; their muscles must not be flexed on the altar of the blood of vulnerable citizens. The primary role of government is security—protect lives and property.
I don’t like dabbling into political issues, at least not on this platform, but because human life is involved, I wish to use this opportunity to call for a public denunciation of this recklessness and destruction of the precious gift of life. I wonder why residential areas are used as a military training or parade grounds. This call isn’t political; it’s ethical and moral. It strikes at the heart of the dignity of the human person, social justice and social charity.
Even if there are protestors, has the right to peaceful demonstration become a crime punishable by military invasion? Why the sheer use of force?
The international community and all men and women of good will must be united to denounce these heartless killings. Silence to evil and violence against anyone is silence to evil and violence against all. It doesn’t matter if you are Christian, Muslim, an African Traditional Religionist, an atheist or simply none of the above. Black or white or brown, makes no difference. Let’s be united to defend the sacredness of life. Anywhere. Anytime.
I believe that in addition to necessary actions that should be taken to defend human life and freedoms, we pray too for those in authority. May they lead to protect lives and property, freedoms and the common good.
May prayers rise to heaven as cries of suffering and pains are heard on earth. Amen.
In particular, would you please join me in praying for peace in Nigeria? God save souls and grant your people peace. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday Week 24 Ordinary Time A: 1 Tim 2:1-8; Lk 7:1-10]
Grace to you!
We read from the Gospel of Mark, chapter sixteen, verses seventeen through twenty-nine, the sad account of the beheading of John the Baptist. Whenever I read that gory story, I feel sick to the stomach. It’s one of those stories in the bible that reveal the most ugly side of human cruelty.
Sometimes I wonder what is the psychology of those who are caught in the web of brutality and violent actions against their fellow human beings?
Watching some of the CSI and Blue Blood series, I seem to see a pattern about one of the reasons for murder. Often, the stories, which by the way try to mirror reality, build around deceit, shown in hiding or discovering of secret affairs, fraud or simply other forms of hate and greed.
Many times, these revolve around lustful passion—lust for money leading to fraud; lust for sex leading to infidelity, and lust for power leading to abuse of authority.
It’s important to remember that passion is a good thing. It’s like the center of enthusiasm and motivation. From a passionate speaker to a passionate activist for good cause, and a passionate believer, without passion, we would become as lifeless as a stone. Without passion, there will be no emotions.
However, these passions for good are like the wind which blows wherever, depending on how it’s directed. Passion has to be directed properly by good reason. If our passions aren’t in check, they become wild, like a wild beast; and the harm this could cause us, those around us, or even the greater society, is unimaginable.
For instance, a secret love affair is an example of lustful passion that comes with a moral and spiritual price, whether we know it now or not. One shouldn’t simply say, it’s my private life, because when the sense of virtue is disrupted, it won’t be long before the impact on our spiritual life is manifested. We also have to remember that Satan thrives in secrecy.
Secondly, a prolonged secret evil could metamorphose to a moral decay in such a way that the line between what is good and what is evil is blurred.
Consider how people who get accustomed to lies start of with simple, small lies to a culture of lie. Before long, the person would be lying without knowing it. It’s become pathological.
A pathological liar could fabricate stories and vouch for their authenticity. When lies become pathological, it is difficult to overcome. Only the grace of God, plus a clinical attention, could save such a person from this rot of integrity in speech.
Herod’s lapse in moral integrity came in stages—from secret infidelity, to power abuse, culminating in the murder of the prophet, John.
Having blurred the line between common sense and morality, Herod made unjust promises to the detriment of a holy man. The responsibility to preserve life was no longer as important to him as to save face before his guests. He forgot the limits of his power as king.
On this day we remember the beheading of John the Baptist, we pray that God will save us from abuse of power, lustful passion and murder, especially the murder of the most vulnerable in our society—the baby in the womb and the senior citizens through the so-called mercy killing. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[ August 29. Feast of the Passion of Saint John the Baptist: 1 Thes 2:1-8; Mark 6:17-29]
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.