#47 JOURNEY TO PERFECT VISION

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Dear Doctimus Prime, there is a biblical saying that, “No one goes to war without first assessing him armoury”. In the same light, to have a fruitful time in Church on Sunday, it helps to have a sneak preview of what to expect. Here are a few things I hope to hear tomorrow.

  1. Pilgrimage

The words of the Salve Regina, the “Hail Holy Queen”, describes us as “poor banished children of Eve”. We are on a pilgrim journey through life. But we can choose to either be at peace in God’s house or be exiled through sin. The exiles spoken of in Jeremiah’s prophecy, represent all of us whom God calls from the slavery of sin to a new life in him. To move from sin’s slavery to holiness indicates knowledge of the evil of sin and a readiness to part ways with it.

How can you break ties with the bad habits that enslave you? How do you turn to what the Gospel teaches? Like a lot of others, you are spiritually weak, lame and blind and find it difficult not only to move but even to know what path the Lord wants you to follow. There is reason to despair if you only rely on yourself to overcome your weaknesses. Prophet Jeremiah reminds us that God takes particular care of those who cannot walk alone. God wants to lead you.

  1. Divine Fatherhood

The Scriptures describe God as our “Father”, the One from whom every fatherhood in the world takes its name (Eph 3:14,15). The roles of a father are namely, life-giver, protector and provider. In the normal course of family life, a father is responsible for giving life through the sexual expression of his love for his wife. He is the one who defends the family from outside threats; in extreme cases that can involve a violent intervention. He provides for his wife and children, as a wage-earner and breadwinner, a wise counsellor, patient teacher and steady emotional support. But all these are attributes that properly belong to God and earthly fathers only share in the Fatherhood of God. God is our Father.

The Scriptures tell us too that Jesus is the image of the unseen God (Heb 1:1,2; Jn 14:9). Jesus is the Eternal High Priest, our Mediator with the Father and our companion on our spiritual journey. To have seen Christ is to have seen the Father. Through Jesus Christ, God the Father nourishes us, protects and provides for us his children (Heb 5:5-6). He knew suffering and temptation and so has compassion on our frailty (Heb 5:7-10).

Jesus confers this priesthood on his Apostles and their disciples. The priest today, following in Christ’s footsteps, is chosen by God to serve God’s people. The word ministry means “service” and ministers are servants. There primary duty is to offer prayers and sacrifices on behalf of the people. A priest is able to bring our supplication to God in prayer and sacrifice because he is acquainted with sin and suffering. You cannot say to your priest, “Father, you don’t understand” because he is a human being, living in the same world with you. He is able to sympathise with you and pray for you because he understands.  You on your part, should pray for Him and listen to him as a child would listen to a father. Pray for your priests, that their humanity may be strengthen by God’s grace in order to lead you ultimately to eternal happiness with God.

  1. Sight to the Blind

The blind Bartimaeus represents many of us today who choose to be blind to the Gospel, preferring what we want to believe about our relationship with Christ to what Christ wants us to do. So many people today are comfortable with their own notions of faith, whether or not it goes contrary to what God has revealed through the Church. When I say “Church”, I mean the gathering of God’s people to whom he has revealed himself in the Word, in the tradition and teachings that have come to us through the Apostles and through the Sacraments.

God can neither deceive nor be deceived. He only tells us the truth. And He reveals the truth about our eternal destiny through His Church. When you do all that God teaches you through his Church, you are being led from blindness to true sight. Just as some members of the crowd in the Gospel helped Bartimaeus come to Jesus, some people in the Church are there to help you come to Christ. You will do well to listen, to observe and to act accordingly.

The one who realizes his blindness readily seeks help. But the one who is oblivious of his blindness does not realise his wretched state. Ask for grace to hear the sound of excitement from others who have truly encountered God, and for courage to abandon your old way of life and embrace true freedom; shed off the cloak of self-deceit and come to Christ. Your happiness cannot wait.

Yours,

BLOGATRON

#46 WISDOM IS WEALTH

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Who needs wisdom when you have wealth?”

I can almost hear the average Nigerian youth speaking. It is easy to be disillusioned when you are hungry. Who can blame you? Desperate times do not always call for desperate measures. Sometimes you have to sit and look at the situation carefully before acting. Now back to the issue at hand. If you have to choose between wealth and wisdom, which would you go for? Let me tell a story before you give me your answer:

A rich young man came to Jesus and asked a very curious question, “Good Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” It is curious that he would be asking for something from a poor itinerant preacher like Christ. To be rich implies that you have very little need of others. But here he was asking for what to do in order to live. He probably has realised something that most rich people find hard to admit to themselves. He realised that he was empty. “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mk 10:17).

It is interesting that he said “inherit”. An inheritance is not a right. It is a gift, a privilege, something someone else has worked for. Jesus, by his life, death and resurrection, gained eternal life for everyone who believes in Him (cf. Jn 3:16,17). The rich young man sought something that money cannot buy. Jesus tells Him that the only way to earn eternal life is to lay down the false security he clung so tightly to. Jesus is not saying that wealth is evil. He is pointing out that if your gifts are only used for your selfish gains, then it is useless. True wealth seeks to make others better. Others must share in the gifts that God has given you (cf. James 1:17). Wisdom helps you realise this fact. To possess wisdom is to have true wealth. And true wealth is that which builds others in the community. In using your gifts to make others better, you receive the gifts of eternal life. In fact, to have wisdom is to have everything.

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It takes wisdom to see Christ as the truth and to follow Him. Wisdom alone opens our eyes to our need for God and the gift of eternal life. King Solomon who is famed as the richest man in the Scriptures had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ask God for anything he wanted. But he humbly asked for “wisdom…a wise heart that is able to distinguish good and evil” (1Kg 33:4-15). Wealth and the beauty of life is nothing compared to wisdom. When we seek the world and all the pleasures it afford for their own sake, we are soon exhausted and left with a bitter aftertaste in our mouths. How many times have you longed for the latest phone, dress or car only to receive it? How did it make you feel? Did it give you the joy you expected? Maybe it did but not for long. Does that tell you something about the world and created things? There is nothing in this created world that can give you happiness.

Now back to the question: The question itself is misleading. It is not the case of either-or. Wealth is God’s gift to some for the good of all. They must seek to better the lives of others by it.

Yours,

BLOGATRON

#45 WHAT GOD HAS JOINED

Bride and groom hugging under veil
Bride and groom hugging under veil

Dear Doctimus Prime,

Today I wish to lay down some important information about the thorny subject of marriage:

A stage of Maturity

The three most important events in a person’s life are birth, marriage and death. The first two are greeted with great joy. The last is greeted with mixed feelings depending on how well a person has lived and what he has done for his family and society at large. Marriage signals a stage of maturity for both men and women. At this point they make a lifelong decision to be united to another person with whom they intend to share their whole life and build a family. Marriage is a special sacrament and vocation for the Christian because it underscores a lot of important points about our vocation as human beings and Christians.

Relationship of a Lifetime

The primary purpose of marriage is the reciprocal love of husband and wife. Their union is one that should last their whole lives and afford them an opportunity to strengthen each other. This means that both of them must learn to offer each other their time, gifts and affection. In the Church, marriage is a sacrament, which confers graces on its recipients. They no longer rely simply on their own strength to be faithful, loving and selfless in their new life. The rings they offer each other is a sign of their love and fidelity. They are also to welcome and educate the children born to their union.

Love Not Use

St John Paul II once wrote that “the opposite of love is use”. This is because it is possible to claim to love someone when all you are really interested in is to use them to satisfy your selfish needs for sex, financial security and status. Marriage affords these pleasures and more but it is not reducible to them. A person who only sees marriage for the good it can bring will remain lonely even when they are not alone.

Equality

Marriage underscores the equality of Man and Woman. The Book of Genesis speaks of God’s intention to create a helpmate for the man (Gen 2:18). A man and woman ought to complement each other. The man is incomplete without the woman and vice versa; their life together is something they should work out together.

A Walk Together

Marriage demands a common plan between the couple. This common plan simply means that they intend to spend the rest of their lives together. Divorce is out of the question because it should never be the plan of two adults who wish to spend their lives together to one day reject this decision. Wherever difficulties arise, it is best for both parties to seek peaceful resolutions to problems. When it becomes clear that they can no longer live together, a peaceful separation should be sought and provision must be made for children born to the union, if there are any.

Faith and Love

Experience has shown that there is a better understanding between couples who share the same faith than those who do not. This is simply because what a person knows and believes forms a substantial and foundational part of who they are. A discord on this ground will affect how they understand each other and what their children should learn. Through our faith, Jesus is able to help us because he has become one like us.

Die a Little

Jesus insists on the original plan of God for union between man and woman because many cultures and their practices has entrenched abuses and the subjugation of women (Mk 12:2-16). Divorce does not protect the interest of the woman and does not help the man appreciate womanhood. True love is only found when it is tested. Jesus offered his life to prove His love for us His Church (Eph 5:25). The least you can do is die in little ways for the sake of your spouse.

Love and Show

Children learn from what they see. There is no better legacy to pass to your children than a loving home, that they see each other as family. The love between spouses teaches their children to see themselves as inseparable parts of each other. As they grow older they are able to appreciate a life of self-sacrifice which will help them build loving homes of their own and others to offer themselves in priestly and religious consecration in the Church.

Ambassadors to Society

Marriage and the family are so important to the Church and society. We must do what we can to preserve and strengthen it. Prayer, personal development and responsibility, sound civil and religious education, a spirit of forgiveness and tolerance are steps towards reviving the marriage institution and placing it at the heart of society and the Church.

Yours,

BLOGATRON

#44 WE ARE ONE

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Dear Doctimus Prime,

A Nigerian adage says that broom sticks tied in a bunch is not easily broken. But a broom stick that chooses to stand alone will sooner or later be broken. This saying is true about our vocation as Christians. We are called together into the Body of Christ, his Church to strengthen and build each other up (1 Cor 12:12-31).

“Us” And “Them”

Many times we act in ways that show that we have clearly misunderstood Christ’s call to unity and love. Many times we emphasize what divides us and not what unites. Sometimes we emphasize the fact that some people are not part of our fold that we overlook the good that they are doing. We see a similar reaction in the Apostles themselves. They tried to stop an exorcist who did great works in Jesus’ name (See Mk 9:38-43,45-48). Like them, we choose those we relate with based on whether “he is one of us” or not. By so doing we lose out on the great potential and fresh insight which a person can bring to a group. In the same way too, never ridicule the beliefs or faith of others. You have received the fullness of divine revelation in the Church. This should not prevent you from seeing the light in what others are doing. Improve your knowledge and point others to the truth as well.

Celebrate Over Hate

Joshua whom Moses had raised, fell into a similar trap when he begged his master to stop two men from prophesying simply because they were not in the tent of meeting when the spirit descended (See Num 11:25-29). You are not to envy others simply because God has chosen to be gracious to them and bless them. If you are not as endowed materially and spiritually, God is probably teaching you to be more dependent on Him.

Be A Hero

Speaking of dependence, there are persons who look up to you for their spiritual or material development. Greed should find no place in your heart. The inordinate desire to acquire things even at the expense of others in unchristian (See James 5:1-6). Others look to you for inspiration in the Christian life. Let your life be a proof of God’s grace which leads you to show love. We learn each day and there is no one too old to learn something new. Let God’s law of love be your guiding principle. As we seek unity and inner peace with God and others in the coming week, may we find Him attending to our needs.

Yours,

BLOGATRON.