BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo


HOMILY: * Titus 2 : 1 – 14, Lk 17 : 7 – 10.

The flavour of Christianity lies in virtue not in words ; good deeds not mere lip service. If you say you have renounced irreligion and worldly passions, one expects to see in you sober, upright and godly lives. It is practical not theoretical. An Igbo adage says : ‘Adi ekpuchi afo ime aka’ – You don’t cover pregnancy. According to Pope Paul VI, ‘The modern man no longer listens to preachers but witnesses and even if they will want to listen to preachers it is because they are witnesses’.

What we find today is that a typical parishioner comes to Sunday Masses to relax after working hard all week, to hear good music, good speeches, see people well dressed and also be seen, and most importantly to identify with people who will bury him or her when she dies by making requisite contributions. You can also add ; to tell God about his or her daily needs (even with little or no faith that God can solve them). But the true parishioner is one who is in close fellowship with the Word of God as is dished out daily by the liturgical calendars and explained by the priests and catechists. He or she depends completely on God to take care of his or her daily needs and does not go elsewhere for solace. Offering is a purely spiritual obligation not for social reasons.

Paul’s letter to Titus portrays clearly this challenge. He insists that our elderly men should be temperate, sound in faith and love and in steadfastness. Our older women should be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or drunkards. They are supposed to teach their daughters how to be submissive to their husbands, chaste and good housewives.The younger men should also control themselves in speech and temper so that the practical life we lead in our societies will not contradict what the gospel teaches.

Our modern Parish structures are getting more and more impersonal. People are not even acquainted with each other’s family lives. Many Christian husbands are very unfaithful to their wives and the women are dying in silence because the society seems to give license to men to misbehave. In the villages, most of the Parish and Station councillors are not charged with the responsibilities of living exemplary lives. Let us try to be models of good deeds. Christianity must insist on the practice lives of its adherents otherwise other religions like Islam may soon take over our society.
Today, we will look into the advice he gave the rest of us ( the laity, so to speak):

1. ADVICE TO THE CMO : He asked the older men to be ; 1. Temperate, 2. Serious, 3. Sensible, 4. Sound in faith, in love and in steadfastness.
Nothing is as bad as a Church where the CMO is full of drunkards, womanizers and irresponsible men.

2. ADVICE TO THE CWO : He asked the older women to be ; 1. Reverent in behaviour, 2. Not be slanderers, 3. Not to be drunkards, 3. They are to teach their daughters how to love their husbands and children and how to be chaste, domestic, kind and submissive to their husbands.

Nothing is as bad as a Church where the CWO is full of immoral and rough women who drink a lot and gossip a lot. Such a Church or Parish is finished because nobody will train our children for a better tomorrow.

3. ADVICE TO THE CYMO : He asked the younger men to be ; 1. Self controlled, 2. Respectful.
Nothing is as bad as a Parish where our young men are violent and involved in cultism especially this Akatakpa, Odo, Omabe and all forms of masquerade madness and armed robbery. Insecurity becomes the order of the day.

4. ADVICE TO THE CYWO : He asked the younger women to listen to the above mentioned advice from their mothers on how to relate with men and future husbands.
Nothing is as bad as a Parish where the young girls are of easy virtue commiting formication and abortion at random and getting pregnant anyhow before wedding. Wedding becomes a caricature of Thanksgiving for fruit of the womb than exchange of vows and prayer for nuptial blessings.

His advice to the laity is to renounce irreligion and worldly passion generally. He wants Christians to have such an impeccable character that will silence our opponents. The era of ‘Uka fada’ ( when everything depends on the priests) is over and the laity is also expected to join hands to redeem the face of the Church.The truth is that this generation will decide if Christianity will survive in Nigeria or not. And that will be by our fruits, Matt 7 : 24. Franz Fanon said that ‘Every generation out of relative obscurity has an obligation to either fulfill its mission or betray it’.

Having done our duties on earth in our various capacities as priests or lay people, today’s gospel says we can now stand humbly before God as worthless servants who have only done our duty. The reward will now be completely God’s business.

May God bless you today!

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