From the pastor’s desk
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time-Year C– Christian formation and Growth in human integrity
In our contemporary world, everywhere in the social media, everywhere in the society there are many critics. Their criticisms turn against everything going on in the church, society, government and in the world. Everyone has almost turned into a preacher, telling others what they should be doing. Those in positions of leadership find it very difficult as they are always subject to distrust, criticisms and attacks.
One may ask, is it always wrong to engage in social-critics? the answer is “no.” The reason is that each of us, by our baptism is called to be a prophet, the mouth-piece of God, the voice of conscience in our society. Each of us, is a prophetic voice in the society. But for one to be a preacher to tell others what is right and wrong, s/he must first of all work on himself or herself. There is no need to give what one does not have. Christian witnessing calls for self-formation; as a Christian disciple, one must first of all acquire what one will give to others. It calls for growth in Christian and human integrity. That is why Ben Sirach, the Old Testament wise man tells us today that a man’s faults like husks appear when he speaks.
Just as there are many revelations people receive from the Spirit and there are many teachers who claim to say the truth, are at times from the evil one, it is therefore necessary, to text the spirits and really know whether they are speaking the truth. What they say of Jesus is the main criteria to know if they speak the truth. Christians have their origin in God while false teachers have theirs in the world. It is, therefore, imperative to discern if those who speak about Jesus, have had their lives tested with Jesus like potter molds in the furnace. Do they disdain the message of the Cross and give message of Cross-less Christianity. Do they bear semblances of Christ’s life, death and resurrection; do they exhibit the fruits of the working of God’s grace and the Spirit of Christ. That is why the wise-man of the Old Testament tells us that just as the fruit of a tree shows the care it has had, so does a man’s speech disclose the bent of his mind. Jesus himself emphasizes this reality so clearly in saying that when fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher. Jesus Christ is the light of the world. For a leader to see clearly to lead others aright, s/he must be in line with Jesus, in life of union or oneness. Failure to do this, amounts to the person becoming a blind guide who misleads others because while s/he has wooden beams in his/her eyes, the person wants to remove the little speck in another person’s eyes. Just as a person wearing dark sun-glass in the daylight sees everything dark, or just as a sick person tastes every food bitter or sour, so does a blind guide see nothing but evil in other people. Many times, we see and judge others as we are in ourselves.
Christian formation brings knowing and being into life in the person of the disciple or student so that like a good tree, s/he can bring forth fruits befitting of God’s Kingdom. A clear sighted Christian leader or disciple must put to death in himself, all that is not of Christ. He must see all things and appraise all thing in Jesus, with Jesus and through Jesus. He must be built up in himself, all that is of Christ, so as to sing the Song of the redeemed: “Death is swallowed up in victory, “ “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, PhD