The Message of Peace: Our Top Priority
FOURTEENTH SUNDAY, YEAR C, ST. MATTHIAS MULUMBA PASTORAL AREA, AZHATA, JULY 3, 2022. HOMILY BY ARCHBISHOP I. A. KAIGAMA
Readings: Is. 66: 10-14; Ps. 65(66): 1-7, 16, 20; Gal. 6: 14-18; Lk. 10: 1-12, 17-20
The word “peace” which appears in all the readings of today, has since the beginning of human history been a very much needed social ingredient; a strong moral fibre that generates healing, consolation, spiritual restoration and even material prosperity.
Having endured a long period of pain and insecurity in exile, God promised to send the people of Israel peace. The first reading from Prophet Isaiah contains that promise of lasting peace: “I will spread prosperity over her like a river and the wealth of nations like an overflowing torrent…as a mother comforts her son, so will I comfort you” (Is. 66:12-13). Israel was to experience the loving care of God in the likeness of a tender and loving mother who cares for her infants. Their time of slavery was over. Their return from captivity to freedom after many years teaches us that God takes account of every single trial we pass through, no matter the duration. At His own time, He will surely speak the words of peace and joy to our situation.
St. Paul in the second reading, as if speaking to Nigerians, refers to our carrying the wounds of violence and conflict, but that God assures us of His peace. St. Paul proclaims a prayer of peace for his people. “Peace and mercy to all … who form the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16). This means that the peace he prays for will come to our hearts, homes, communities, societies, and world when we work in line with the will of God. Preaching the gospel inevitably means preaching the gospel of peace, and a believer is to be most pitied who does not preach the good news of peace (cf. 1 Cor. 9:16).
The message of peace must therefore remain our top priority. Peace brings understanding, unity, togetherness, forgiveness, collaboration, development, growth, etc. Today Jesus equips us with the message we must bring to our world: “Peace be with this house [world]” (Lk. 10:5). Jesus knows very well that this is what our world needs most; to transform it from a culture of war and hatred to a culture of peace. He invites us to be instruments of His peace; to heal the world of violence. When the apostles wanted to call fire from heaven (cf. Lk. 9:54-55) and Peter wanted to resort to crude weapon to fight for Jesus (cf. Jn. 18:10-11) Jesus rebuked them.
The psalmist enjoins us and the whole earth to “cry out with joy to God” (Ps. 66:1). We are to cry out with joy to God not because things are going well with us but because of the fact that all the earth shall one day bow to the power of God. There will be a new dawn in which no one will hear the wailing of young school girls being taken into the forest by kidnappers and the hysterical clamour of their mothers who cannot be comforted; the groans of adults taken by force and helplessly kept incommunicado for days or weeks waiting to be ransomed by concerned family members and killings in the bush, villages, roads and homes. We hope all this shall pass away and a peaceful future we are all praying for will materialize.
The 72 disciples Jesus sent returned to Jesus with joy and testimonies. They told Jesus that even the devil submitted to them when they called the name of Jesus. But Jesus told them to rejoice in the fact that their names are written in the kingdom of heaven. Are we of this generation concerned about heaven at all? The way people are killed and public funds wasted recklessly, thus, depriving the poor? Are we worried that our names may not be inscribed in the book of life in Heaven? Remember, the only way for our names to be included in the book of life is when we give drink, food, shelter, etc, to the poor and we are very sensitive of each other’s needs. Let us not be under the illusion that because we violently fight for God and kill for religion, deny others their rights or coax them to adopt our religion in order to gain promotion, or lucrative government positions, or travel to holy lands many times or build lovely places of worship that we will automatically inherit the kingdom of God.
Nigerians are called to be missionaries of peace as the seventy two disciples sent in pairs on mission of peace, reconciliation and repentance. Government must also do everything possible to ensure the return of permanent peace. Those aspiring to rule this country must keep in mind the enormous security situation at hand and include in their political calculations now the needed strategies and deliberate measures to bring the unfortunate security situation under control. The kidnappers or terrorists are said to be so bold as to demand for money, foodstuff, motorcycles and even weapons to be delivered to them in person. Also that the negotiations for these are done by telephone, and yet they remain undetected makes this the greatest Nigerian mystery today.
Dear brothers and sisters, continue to pray the “Prayer for Nigeria in Distress.” Like the 72 sent and told by Jesus to carry no purse, no sack, no sandals, your priest in charge of St. Matthias Mulumba Church, Azhata, Fr. Augustine Abin, was like the other priests sent out to the over fifty pastoral areas, places that had no parish houses, permanent church buildings or land. You generously welcomed them within your means. I have come to say thank you to you all. It is also with joy that on this day, the first anniversary of the creation of your pastoral area and cultural day celebration, there are 46 candidates to receive the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and 91 candidates for Confirmation.
The little seeds of faith planted here in St. Matthias Mulumba Pastoral Area, Azhata, will yield abundant fruits in no distant time. Also, one day all our sufferings in Nigeria will be a thing of the past, that is, if we make good political choices, and the leaders create a level laying ground that permits transparent and just democratic practice. There will be healing of our land, an era of spiritual restoration, great consolation and material prosperity for Nigeria.