Jun 24, 2014, 08:56 – On Personal Appraisal
Today being the Solemnity of St. John the Baptist, I sat down and had some deep thought. As I sat in front of my tv screen, and watched for the umpteenth time, the disgraceful display of Edo State ‘Honorable’ Law makers, I instantly considered putting up an article to condemn their actions. But then, the gospel message of yesterday hit me HARD: “why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but fail to perceive the plank in yours (cf. Matt. 7:3)?”
Jesus also cautions us not to judge. But he doesn’t say we should sit and be quiet when things go wrong. He says that we must not exonerate ourselves while painting everyone else black. To be sincere, we’ve come to discover that many of us men of God have failed truth and justice. We have become mere shadows of what we are actually supposed to represent.
Remember what that saintly man of God said to us? Let me shake up your memory a bit… “Future priests should cultivate a series of human qualities, not only out of proper and due growth and realization of self, but also with a view to the ministry… Of special importance is the capacity to relate to others… This demands that the priest not be arrogant, or quarrelsome, but affable, hospitable, sincere in his words and heart, prudent and discreet, generous and ready to serve, capable of opening himself to clear and brotherly relationships and of encouraging the same in others, and quick to understand, forgive and console…(Saint John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis, no. 43).
How many of us can boast of pondering these qualities in our hearts today, not to mention actually possessing and living them out? How many of us still believe in peaceful dialoguing as the pathway to reconciliation and justice? How many of us can truly deal ‘frontally’ with real issues without attempts at undue emotional exuberance? It seems to me that true character formation is lacking. Why then do we complain when Presidents are unable to collaborate with their Vice? Why do we get noisy when political parties cannot co-exist in peace and harmony? Why do we continue to preach peace to the warring nations of the world? Tell me, what moral rectitude have we to make the pronouncements we make in God’s name?
What exactly was John the Baptist’s purpose if not to install the Kingdom of God here on earth? What exactly was his mission if not to point out the Messiah to others? How can we, priests of God, condemn Edo State Law makers in conscience when the situation in our Church bears similar markings at some levels? How can we ask honorable law makers to be truly honorable when some of us have lost the true meaning of the very word? There’s a general weakness of character. Men now behave like children almost everywhere in the country, almost at every sector. Many have lost the fear of God. Many are no longer motivated by a Spirit of service. We now mostly just want money, fame and/or power. Where exactly did we miss the path?
In Ezek. 34: 1-6, the word of God says: “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God to the shepherds: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. So they were scattered because there was no Shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them.”
Some days ago, I watched yet another episode of Sahara Tv’s ‘Keeping it Real with Adeola’ where she accused ‘men of God’ for their deafening silence on recent issues in the country. To say the least, she couldn’t be more right. What then must we do? What CAN we do about these things? These evil things? We must learn to call a spade a spade. We must learn to condemn a wrong action. If I am the Bishop in a Diocese and I act unbecomingly I must be told by those who should, that I may realise the need to act otherwise. If I am the priest of a parish and I lose the sense of service, I must be confronted that I may begin to see clearly. In the same manner, when something goes wrong in the society, we must collectively condemn the wrong. But we shouldn’t even dare, if we can’t first tell ourselves the truth.
I of course take it for granted that we already know that corrections of this manner should be carried out in a true fraternal spirit. Actions, not individuals per se should be condemned. This is LOVE. If it has an excuse to be missing in the secular society, it certainty has no excuse to be missing in the Church. But isn’t it the case, that the general assumption ‘that all of us have the necessary maturity to act true to these admonitions’, is misplaced? Were it not, would you now be reading this reflection?
Lord Have Mercy on Us!
St. John the Baptist, pray for Us!
Jun 24, 2014, 08:56 – On Personal Appraisal