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]
Fr. Maurice Emelu
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.