No One is Useless
33rd Sunday Homily by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Sabon Lugbe, Abuja. November 15, 2020.
Readings: Prov. 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31; Ps. 127(128): 1-5; 1 Thess. 5:1-6; Mt. 25:14-30
My dear parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Sabon Lugbe, today again we are invited to be vigilant, prayerful and hard working as we await the Lord’s return.
The first reading from Proverbs 31, describes an ideal woman, a hard working wife. Rather than the negative portrayal of women by a society that is predominantly male-dominated, this reading indicates the abundance of a woman’s productive work and its accompanying prosperity (v. 18). She has a generous heart especially, towards the poor; she prays, fears the Lord and walks in grace, engaging herself with useful matters. As the man is the head of the house, a woman is the pillar of her home. Every good wife supports her home and helps her husband to build a good Christian family. This is valid for husbands too. A good husband is expected to fully live out his responsibilities and obligations in the family.
I am sure that the Ministry of Women Affairs and most women will be happy with this reading today that describes the nobility of women; protected from both cultural and religious practices that are inhuman; such practices as female genital mutilation, maltreatment after the death of a husband, child marriage and the very offensive primitive crime of rape which robs many women of dignity.
Today’s Gospel addresses what we ought to be doing while we await the second coming of Christ. It is also the main focus of the second reading (1 Thess. 5:1-6). The Gospel enjoins us to work and be productive and responsible in doing what God has given us to do.
No one is useless in life as not to have a talent. St. Paul says, God has given each one of a special gift through the generosity of Christ (cf. Eph. 4:7). Your special ability may seem small or large but it is yours to use in the service of God and humanity. Let us ask God for the grace to be able to use our gifts well, to contribute to the Church and the wider society. Each one of us is given a gift that corresponds to his or her ability. While some people are using and multiplying their gifts, some people are afraid of taking risks. Hence, they bury their gifts because they are either lazy or afraid.
In the Gospel parable (Mt. 25:14-30), rather than blame himself for being slothful, the last of the servants acquitted himself of blame and laid it on his master thus, “I knew you were a hard man who reaps where you did not sow and gathers where you did not scatter, so I was afraid and I went and hid your talent.” This attitude of his attracted the wrath of his master who referred to him as a “wicked servant.”
There are many individuals today who blame their lack of progress in life on other people or other factors instead of their irresponsibility or laziness. Many African countries still blame their lack of progress on their colonial masters. It is easier to sit down and lament the ordeals of the colonial era than look for solutions that would address our problems.
The attitude of the unproductive servant represents those who bury their God-given gifts or those who instead of using their knowledge and skill prefer begging or even stealing. Stealing or begging is not a profession. After graduating with a university degree, do not wait for white collar jobs; rather, engage in any petty trade. We urge our youth, to use their raw energy, intelligence and creativity positively, not for destruction and fraudulent (419) activities.
As a country we must channel our resources into human capacity building and productive ventures instead of our overdependence on oil, foreign aid and aggressive borrowing from other countries. We are blessed with huge agricultural potentials to make us self-reliant and our youth gainfully employed, and there is no reason to be referred to as “the poverty capital of the world.” Why we don’t progress well is because we fail to make the necessary sacrifices and transparency that could propel us to greatness. Many Nigerians are thriving abroad but at home people with good brains and skills are frustrated because of the deficiency of social infrastructure, technical equipment, coupled with corrupt practices.
Our leaders should provide the conducive environment and help people who have gifts to employ them for the good of fellow Nigerians (cf.1 Peter 4:10).
I therefore call on our leaders to generate good job opportunities and create avenues for skills acquisition so that our youth can nourish our country with their great talents. I pray that the jobs that have been promised to youths by the Federal Government will not end up being for family and friends of those who matter. To our youths, you must not sit back in total anticipation of white collar jobs, I encourage you to offer voluntary services and develop your skills in the smallest possible way you can. We all need prudent and profitable use of time, talent and resources in order to give good account of our earthly stewardship, so that we can hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant… enter into the joy of your Master” (Mt. 25:21).