Blessed are those who put their trust in God

Sixth Sunday C, February 13, 2022, St. Anthony’s Parish, Zuma. Homily by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama

Readings: Jer. 17: 5-8; Ps. 1: 1-4, 6; 1 Cor. 15: 12, 16-20; Lk. 6: 17, 20-26

Blessed are those who put their trust in God

My dear Fr. Daniel Bot and parishioners of St. Anthony’s Parish, Zuma, we are all gathered here in your church to seek God’s special blessings. The reading from prophet Jeremiah proclaims a blessing on the person who trusts in God and a curse on the person who puts his trust in man: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert and shall not see any good come… Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green” (Jer. 17:5-7). The prophet’s assertion came during the imminent threat of invasion by the Assyrians and the ensuing chaos, as the Israelites were forced to associate themselves with the strong, the wealthy and the powerful. Jeremiah urged the people to depend on God’s covenant, rather than on human security.

To place one’s trust in God is a great source of blessing and interior joy. Hence, the psalmist remarks: “Those who trust in the Lord are like mount Zion that can never be shaken” (Ps. 125:1). Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Sometimes the events of our lives make it hard to trust God unconditionally, such as the woman who lost her beloved mother after praying fervently asking God to spare her life; the priest who lost both father and mother within the same period, or Job in the Bible, who not only lost his children, animals and other possessions, but also suffered a severe infection of the skin. Job’s wife advised him to curse God and die!

In the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians he cautions us that our hope as Christians should not be totally placed on this world or on our efforts alone, but on Christ who through His resurrection has strengthened our hope of eternity (cf. 1 Cor. 5:19).

In the Gospel, Jesus proclaims the beatitudes as pathways towards attaining eternal happiness with God. Unless we possess God, we have no happiness. King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 2:11 recounts how all the works of his hands and his life time toil were vanity and a chase after the wind. St. Augustine made several attempts to find happiness in the things of this world: knowledge, power, wealth, women, influence etc. When he had given into all these, he still felt empty and unfulfilled. This explains why Saint Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in God”.

We must note that Jesus does not encourage poverty by saying, “Blessed are the poor,” He means that the kingdom of God belongs to those who are poor in spirit; that is, those who truly understand their need of God and are ready to open up to Him in order to be satisfied by Him.

There is nothing wrong with riches but there is everything wrong with putting our trust in riches and wealth, thinking they can give us contentment (cf. 1 Tim. 6:17-19). A man’s happiness does not consist in the abundance of his possessions (cf. Lk. 16:15).

Because we think happiness consists in material acquisitions and comforts like money, position, prestige, etc., is why many people today do not see anything wrong with just becoming rich at all cost even if it means ritual killing or kidnapping for ransom.

Unfortunately, those who have put their trust in man and in the things of this world are the ones admired in our contemporary society. Our life has become so superficial that whenever the word “blessing” is mentioned the first thing that comes to mind is material benefits, not being blessed with a saintly life of honesty, wisdom, love, gentleness, self-control, the fear of God, patience, etc.

I call on candidates being confirmed today to find happiness by your way of life and empty yourselves of pride, anger, fear, distrust, etc.

Today we commission over 550 lectors for our Archdiocese, carefully selected and properly trained for the ministry of proclaiming the Word of God at Mass and at other liturgical assemblies. We urge you to be dedicated and to strive to live holy and exemplary lives in accordance with the Word of God that you read in the scripture.

As a nation, we suffer terribly because our religiosity is skin deep as shown in our uncharitable treatment of one another, malicious words and actions, terrible discrimination against those not of our faith or tribe, very greedy and false dependence on wealth or the blind and irrational pursuit of ephemeral political power, resulting in all sorts of very notorious and inhuman acts. You recall the gruesome murder of your parishioner, Mr. Stephen Ibrahim Inuwa, and Mr. Richard John a member of the ECWA Church who were both kidnapped within this Zuma axis on 30th of January, 2022, along with Mr. Marcus Neibo, who was lucky to be released on the 5th of February. We extend our heartfelt condolences to their families and assurance of closeness in prayers.

In conclusion, we call on those who clamour so fervently for power in the 2023 elections to realize that power is meant to be exercised in favour of Nigerians plunged into poverty; to bring joy to those who are deprived and to kindle the flame of hope amidst the darkness of despair.

To you dear parishioners, remember that there is blessing in being a blessing to others.

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