Grace to you!
May I request your prayers in a special way today. Exactly this day eleven years ago, Bishop Gregory Ochiagha ordained me a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Orlu in Nigeria. It has been eleven years of lots of stories – joys and sorrows, sacrifices and blessings – all for the glory of God.
Pray that God will continue to tuck me in His heart, the heart of love; and inspire me and all ordained ministers to love Him above all else, and live and share that love by the love of all who come our way as God’s ministers. May we constantly follow the Lord Jesus as His own and His alone, for His people. Amen.
Does the life example of a leader matter? Does the lifestyle of leaders, especially public figures or religious leaders, impact those under their care?
I look back and remember those who started the journey before I did. I could tell those whose lives were and are an inspiration – from a young lady who was my schoolteacher at the elementary school, to the priests who ministered in our parish and my teachers in the seminary, as well as those I met through college and graduate schools.
I believe you have your own stories about those who touched your life in a way that it shaped you positively. Such people are always remembered. People influence us in good or in bad ways.
I remember also the friend through whom I came to cherish my Catholic faith, and grow in a personal relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in His Church when I was fourteen and a half years. As we grow, we mature; we meet people; we learn and we are learned. Our lives are influenced as we influence others too.
How about those who may have scandalized us; those who have shown us bad examples? You would realize that the memories of such people bring some discomfort; or if you are like Saint Catherine of Siena, makes you become an intercessor for their conversion.
Scandalous bad examples don’t go away easily. Like good examples, they tend to stick somehow, though negatively. They have a way of destroying the seed of faith in the hearts of the young, the weak and the vulnerable. Among the worst of all scandals is hypocrisy.
Jesus condemned the hypocrisy of the scribes and the Pharisees over two thousand years ago. His condemnation shouldn’t be seen as applying to those leaders of the past. It could as well be applied to all religious leaders now and those tomorrow. Jesus was speaking to them and to us. The core of his condemnation is against hypocrisy and the scandal, which mislead God's children. Bad example is terrible.
The Lord Jesus reminds me, a priest, that flamboyant pride and ego are among the root causes of hypocrisy. Humility, realizing how weak I am and how much I need God's grace to be holy and leading an example of a humble life, would help people appreciate that I am like they are and we would go to heaven together. It’s grace working through charity, grace opening the heart of sin to the soul of holiness.
The answer to hypocrisy is humility. Jesus said; “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).
Lord, give me the grace to know how weak I am and how much I need your grace. May I be a good example to all your “little ones,” and never mislead anyone by my words, actions or inactions. Amen.
Let's pray for one another. Pray also for your priests. Please pray for me too.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
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.