God’s inclusive and universal scope of salvation

20th Sunday, 20th August 2023, at Holy Trinity, Maitama, Abuja. Homily by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama

Readings: Isaiah 56:1, 6-7; Romans 11:13-15, 29-32; Matthew 15:21-28

God’s inclusive and universal scope of salvation

It is my great pleasure to celebrate with you at this early hour of the morning. I have celebrated Masses several times in this church, but not at 6:00 am! I desire to feel and to experience the type of blessings you take away when you attend the first Mass of the day on Sunday. May God’s blessing be yours and mine now and forever.

Our Archdiocese has been playing host to several events recently. Not long ago, we hosted the Catholic Bishops of West Africa. We have hosted ordinations of priests and deacons for the SMA and CSSp Congregations. There is an ongoing week-long Pan African Charismatic Renewal event, and in a few weeks, we shall be hosting the Catholic Bishops of Nigeria on behalf of Abuja Ecclesiastical Province.

Yesterday was a moment of great joy, to witness the ordination of 13 new priests for our Archdiocese. Praise the Lord!

The thread that runs through all the readings is God’s inclusive and universal scope of salvation irrespective of one’s’ culture, creed, nationality or race. In the first reading the prophet declared, “And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him…these I will bring to my holy mountain (Jerusalem)…for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples” (Is. 56:6-7). The prophet told them that God’s blessings are also available to foreigners. This is in contrast with the poor understanding that the children of Israel are the first and only recipients of salvation. Although God chose the Israelites and set them apart as His chosen race, His plan for salvation was meant for the whole of creation (cf. Gen. 12:1-3).

The ministry of Jesus was to bring people to Himself, never to exclude any group or affiliation. He never rejected or drove anyone away from Himself; because everyone is made in the image and likeness of God and we are precious in God’s sight. Today, we have the assurance from St. Paul that the mercy of God is available to all those who will respond accordingly to His invitation. “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Acts 2:21).

Although, you come from different backgrounds and represent the different facets of the society, you belong to one family, which is the family of God. Among you here are: the children, the young and old, business men/women, government officials, artisans, teachers etc., all gathered in prayer. Among you also are different ethnic groups: The Yoruba, Idoma, Igbo, Efik, Ijaw, Tiv, Jukun, Goemai, Igala and many others.

I encourage you to continue to be united in prayer and continue to promote and sustain this great spiritual harmony regardless of your ethnicity and status.

The healing by Jesus of the Canaanite woman’s daughter, a pagan, was unique. The Canaanites were age old enemies of the Jews, but here we have this Canaanite woman show up with a pressing request of Jesus, to heal her daughter possessed by a demon. Jesus described her as a “woman of great faith,” and granted her request. Jesus demonstrated that His mission was not restricted to the Jews only; His mission was to break the walls of division between the Jews and Gentiles. Our Nigerian society is ridden with many attitudes of exclusivity. We have a culture of favouring only those of one’s political, ethnic or religious affiliation. Let us continually seek the good of others.

When I heard the news that five billion Naira has been allocated by the Federal Government to each state as a palliative to cushion the effect of the economic “wahala,” my immediate reaction was whether this will reach the people that need it. We have heard in the past where to recruit idle youth, some influential persons would fix the names of the children who are still in primary school; the attempt to feed school children collapsed, etc. I worry if this well-intended palliative will not be used up by political leaders to recoup part of what they spent during elections or to settle their political acolytes.

I commend you, the parish priest, Fr. Moses Jimbili, your assistant, Fr. Godwin Namiji, and all the parishioners for accepting to make the extraordinary sacrifice to build the secretariat in the Papal ground, Kubwa. Please give it your best. There are many indications that Holy Trinity, Maitama, “no de carry last.” Despite the hard economic situation, many of you make multiple sacrifices to keep our parishes and Archdiocese going. May God who alone sees all that is done in secret reward you in abundant measures.

May God bless you all and preserve you in the unity of the Trinity. Amen.

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