Come to Jesus for Rest
26th Sunday Homily by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama at the Chaplaincy of Our Lady Queen of Good Health, Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, Abuja, September 27, 2020.
Readings: Ezekiel 18:25-28; Psalm 24:4-9, Philippians 2:1-11; Matthew 21:28-32
Since relocating permanently from Jos to Abuja in April 2020, at the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic lock down, I have celebrated Masses in the urban and rural Churches, sometimes without congregations. Thank God, the lock down has eased off a bit and with the kind invitation of your Chaplain, Rev. Fr. Damian Akut, I am able to visit your Chaplaincy of Our Lady Queen of Good Health, Federal Medical Centre, Jabi, to pray with and for you. May God hear our prayer and in His mercy help the sick on their beds of pain and bring them back from sickness to health. May God also imbue you the healthcare workers: doctors, nurses, administrative professionals, assistants and volunteers with both spiritual and physical energy and reward you for the sacrifices you make daily.
“Come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Mt. 11:28). His Holiness, Pope Francis, in his message for the XXVIII World Day of the sick remarked, “These words of Christ express the solidarity of the Son of Man with all those who are hurt and afflicted. How many people suffer in both body and soul! Jesus urges everyone to draw near to him – “Come to me!” – and he promises them comfort and repose.” My dear sick brothers and sisters, through this Eucharist, Jesus is offering His mercy and His comforting presence to you.
For the healthcare workers, Pope Francis is very convinced that through you the patients can feel the presence of Christ; through your personalized approach to the sick, not just of curing but also of caring. Their families also need support and comfort from you. As the Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer expressed recently, “Even if someone cannot be ‘cured’ medically, they ought to always be cared for,” until the end.
Today also is the 106th World Day of Migrants and Refugees (WDMR), with the theme “Forced like Jesus Christ to flee”, Pope Francis urges us to reflect on the sad reality of the internally displaced people and he invites us to care for them and to identify with them. A team from our department for Migrants and Refugees yesterday visited those displaced by terrorists and are taking refuge in Abuja and environs, with some palliatives, as a symbol of our love. Continue please to identify with the IDPs, pray for them and support them.
Today also, a few of our brothers and sisters will receive their first Holy Communion and some, the sacrament of Confirmation. In receiving the body and blood of Christ, they seek to honour Jesus’ invitation to participate in this banquet of love and unity. In receiving the sacrament of Confirmation, they receive the Holy Spirit which enables them to bear witness to Christ and to proclaim his message of repentance. I urge them to model their lives after Christ.
Both sin and sickness came into the world through the first fall of man. In the first reading from prophet Ezekiel, we receive assurance of God’s forgiveness when we turn back from our iniquity. No matter how far we have deviated from God, it is never too late to turn back to Him to receive forgiveness.
We see the contrasting attitudes of two sons in the Gospel. While the first son was asked by his father to go and work in the vineyard, he said ‘no’ but after, he did his father’s wish. The second son said ‘yes’ but later did nothing. Jesus teaches us here that lip service or eye service (external religious exhibition) cannot bring us closer to God.
St. Paul in the second reading advises that “We must do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility…. Look out for each other’s interests, not just for your own” (Phil. 2:3-4).
On October 1st we shall be celebrating our country’s 60th Independence anniversary. Happy Diamond Independence Anniversary to all Nigerians!
We must all continue to work for the good of Nigeria and for the unity of Nigerians. We should strive to translate the teachings of our noble religions, especially of Islam and Christianity, into acts of genuine love and generosity. St James asks, “Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’, but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” (2:15-16). Our religious piety should not only be visible and felt on Sundays in the Church or on Fridays in the Mosque, but daily and everywhere.
One of the very great lessons of COVID-19 is that we can see ourselves with the lens of a common humanity. The tiny virus defying our medical and scientific prowess has hopefully brought home the lesson of our inter-dependence. One other big lesson is the imperative for political authorities to improve health care to benefit the poor.
Let us ask God for the grace of love, compassion, caring, forgiveness and an increased support for the vulnerable, the socially deprived, marginalized and forgotten.
I salute and commend you the sick for your courage by clinging to your faith, trusting in Jesus the Saviour and I salute you the healthcare workers for your relentless dedication. We call on the Government to meet your legitimate professional and material needs so that you can serve the sick and the poor with tranquility.
Glory to Jesus, honour to Mary!