The Call to Spiritual Transformation
Second Sunday of Lent, 5th March, 2023, St. Augustine’s Parish, Lugbe. Homily by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama
Readings: Genesis 12:1-4; 2 Timothy 1:8-10; Matthew 17:1-9
The Call to Spiritual Transformation
My dear people of St. Augustine’s Parish, Lugbe, it is a great pleasure to visit and pray with you on this second Sunday of Lent; to bless you and to request for your prayers for me for the success of my apostolate in the Archdiocese of Abuja. I have come also to encourage you to keep on doing good works with greater dedication.
Your former Parish priest, Rev. Fr. Christopher Inegbenoghu, had requested this visit a few months ago, and we settled for this date, but as the saying goes, ‘man proposes, God disposes,’ he was reassigned to St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Kugbo, a few days ago, and Rev Fr. James Akpaamo is here as your new parish priest. Fr. Chris has done his part and handed over the baton to your new priest. As I ask God to reward Fr. Chris for his labour of love in your parish community, I urge you to lovingly embrace your new parish priest; give him great support and together you will succeed, especially keying into our five-year pastoral plan, by making the necessary sacrifices called for.
Those who take over positions of leadership should only seek to add building blocks of cohesion and development rather than destroying past good legacies or to discontinue from them; to serve, and not to be served; to build and not to destroy; to bind and not to divide. For political leaders, there is no need to fight dirty, rig or manipulate elections if the desire is to genuinely serve the common good.
Today’s readings speak about our call to holiness. From Genesis 12, we read of the transformation of Abram, a pagan patriarch into a spiritual father of the people of God. Abram was asked to sacrifice the comfort of his homeland and move to a new place that God would show him (cf. Gen. 12:1). He was to dissociate himself completely from his pagan past and embrace a new beginning with God. The physical migration from the land of Haran to the land of Canaan was also a symbol of his spiritual relocation to a life of grace. His absolute trust in God led to many blessings. At 75, God promised Abram to make his name great. He gave Abraham a son at 100, and he (Abraham) became the father of the chosen people. During this Lenten season, God asks us too, to leave our old sinful ways behind, to go forth with Him through the phases of repentance, renewal, and transformation. We must learn to trust in God and rely on His will for us. He alone is our help and our shield, our rock and our salvation on whom ‘we place all our hope’ (Ps. 32:22).
Like Abram, Saul, by the grace of God, broke with his sinful past to become a new creation. Saul, who became Paul in his 2nd letter to Timothy explains the type of transformation expected of us, to bear hardship for the sake of the Gospel with the hope of life everlasting after our earthly sojourn.
The gospel reading about the transfiguration of Christ, tells how Peter, James, and John saw Jesus’ face shine as brightly as the sun and His garments became dazzling white (cf. Mt. 17:2). Moses, the greatest law giver, and Elijah, the greatest of the prophets came to converse with Jesus. This was like an endorsement of the person and mission of Jesus, to save humanity.
The voice of God saying, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; in whom I am well pleased, listen to Him’ (Mt. 17:5) points that it is not enough to see or admire the transfigured Jesus. We all must listen to Him, spend additional time with Him in prayer, fasting and almsgiving, so that we can also have the mountain-top experience.
On a concluding note, I urge you to keep hope alive. We concluded our presidential and National Assembly elections last Saturday. Many people turned out and enthusiastically voted, believing that the transparency promised would be guaranteed. When it did not happen in all cases, as many felt that the process was compromised, many wanted street protests, but thanks to the maturity of the top contenders who called all to order and obedience to the laws of the land, we have yet survived together again as against those predicting doom. We encouraged people to get registered, to obtain their voting cards, to go out and vote. They enthusiastically trooped out to vote but to their greatest chagrin, the process did not achieve the degree of transparency expected. Despite all, remain calm and peaceful. Those not satisfied with the results are heading to the courts. Let the courts do their work with the greatest sense of justice. God above is watching how the courts; the hope of the common man/woman will perform. The Supreme Judge of the Ultimate Tribunal is waiting for those who dispense justice with a sense of fairness or do so with great personal bias or get compromised because of some material reasons. Let justice be done. Let peace reign. May God protect Nigeria and all Nigerians. There are very hostile, inflammatory, and provocative statements going around. Do not be lured into losing your cool. Please, participate fully in the remaining elections on Saturday. God is still the God of all Nigerians.
To you, the parishioners of St. Augustine’s Lugbe, the new Parish Priest, the candidates for confirmation, and indeed, all of us, let us listen to God calling us to follow Him; let us be obedient and unwavering in faith in the midst of the difficulties and challenges we encounter in life. May the Lord continue to bless and strengthen us and lead us all especially during this Lent to inner transformation and holiness.