FR. BEN’S HOMILY FOR MONDAY OF THE 15TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME CYCLE I
THEME: A PHAROAH WHO DOES NOT KNOW JOSEPH!
BY: Fr. Benedict Agbo
HOMILY: * Ex 1 : 18 – 22, Matt 10 : 34 – 11 : 1.
For children of God, the emergence of a ‘Pharoah who does not know Joseph’ is always a nightmare. All the privileges and favours of ‘Goshen’ (the choice land alloted to Isrealites in Egypt) become a mirage overnight ; all governmental policies are turned into policies of enslavement ; the soldiers and the police who should provide security become taskmasters and oppressors. ‘But the more they were oppressed the more they multiplied and spread abroad’. Such was the condition of the Isrealites (the people of God ) before the arrival of their ‘Moses’ (the Messiah figure of the Old Testament). Some are of the view that this scenario is set for a repeat in Nigeria today as governmental oppression and hatred seems to grow against the Igbos. According to Fr Vitus Ugwu (in today’s homily in the Shepherd Monthly Bulletin of Catholic Diocese of Nsukka), ‘Nigeria has become an Egypt for the Igbo people. The story of the Isrealites in the first reading mirrors exactly the cataclysmic woes of the Igbo in this geographic contraption called Nigeria. Ours is even worse than the slavery of the Isrealites in that there has never been a Pharoah that knew us. What we have had are Pharoahs that loathed us more because of our enterprise and industry than because of our failings’.
The coming of the Messiah (the new Moses) is our hope as a people of God. But we must be careful about what we think the solution to the problem is: Do we need a ‘Moses’ or a ‘Jesus’? An ‘Nnamdi Kanu’ or a Messiah figure? Who is our real Pharoah? Is the enemy within or without? As people cry ‘Pharoah let my people go’, these basic questions must be asked. And where is the ‘Moses’ by the way, if we think we need a ‘Moses’? Or, preferably, a ‘Joseph’ with the economic wisdom and foresight that can can forestall the challenges of the days of drought.
We need the man with the right words, the right heart yet with the right brains and brawns. Jesus says : ‘Learn of me, for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls’, Matt 11 : 30. He says metaphorically in today’s gospel that ‘I have not come to bring peace but a sword to divide a father against his son and mother against her daughter… and a man’s foes will be those of his own household ‘. Yes, I think the enemy of the so called ‘Biafra’ and indeed every people of God is not far away. The enemy is within. The enemy is our bad leadership, our lack of communal interest; our lack of love and gentility; our selfishness and violent emotions. Biafran militants must calm down to study the events of 1967 (most of them were not born then) to avoid a repeat of the same mistakes our leaders made the effect of which may be more disastrous now.
Then we had our bushes to run to; now our bushes are inhabited by our enemies.
Then we could manufacture ‘ogbunigwe’ but today we are as armless as a toothless barking dog. Only a relationship with Christ can give us our true identity as a country. Christ says that he who does not take up his cross and follow him can never find true freedom and happiness. We need ‘Pharoahs’ who know Jesus, ‘Moseses’ who carry the staff of leadership and ‘Josephs’ who have the sagacity of experience and not touts as our leaders.
May God bless you today!
FR BEN AGBO