YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 33RD WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
HOMILY THEME: FREEDOM OF RELIGION
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: 1 Macc 2 : 15 – 29, Lk 19 : 41 – 44.
Religious jihadism is the worst menace that can envelope any society. It is the complete breakdown of law and order and the right to freedom of worship /religion. It turns human beings into religious slaves and underdogs. Today’s 1st reading presents such a scenario and it is always as a result of fanaticism. I don’t support Mathathias’ violent action against his cowardly kinsman who yielded to executive pressures from the King and compromised his faith. I think he still has a right to chose where to go and should not have been brutally killed. But one thing that was clear from the 1st reading is that at that point in time, a religious war had become inevitable. The children of God were already being forcefully hemmed into a foreign religion and crushed down to the point of denying their faith. If Mathathias had delayed futher ; if he did not give vent to his ‘righteous anger?’ ; if he did not run away with the surviving few to declare guerilla warfare against the oppressive King, the whole Jewish nation would have lost their faith or perished.
Christ makes it clear in today’s gospel that ‘A time is coming when your enemies (political and religious) will raise fortifications all round you on every side. They will dash you and the children inside your walls to the ground…. all because you did not recognize your opportunity when God offered it ‘. Is that not what is happening in Nigeria today? After many years of rule by Christian presidents, we are faced with the danger of Islamization as Fulani herdsmen assault people all over. But these things could have been taken over long ago by superior legislative decisions when we had better opportunities.
Democracy is actually one of the best things that can happen to any nation – a stage when people are free to determine whatever religion they want and whatever political parties they want to rule them. Any religion that encourages jihadism /aggressive evangelization is a threat to sociopolitical peace and progress. Christ’s message remains a message of peace and Christianity remains one of the most peaceful religions in the world today.
One of the most challenging problems of the contemporary society as people intermingle and intermarry today is the problem of lack of freedom of worship. Should a woman drop her previous faith in order to marry a man of contrary faith or vice versa? Some see the latter as a taboo – how can a woman drag her husband to her own religious belief in African circumstance? Yet the truth remains that the most scriptural position on this matter is that ‘a man should leave father and mother (and all the appurtenances of his parental affiliations) and go to a woman and the two shall become one’, Gen 1: 26. But the operative word here must be freedom and love. In the context of love, any side can defer for the other. If people love themselves, they can compare notes spiritually and whoever professes a better grasp of faith should win in the gentle battle of love.
But these days, what we experience is that the bargaining power of the lady is usually lost as soon as she yields to the wooing sexual pressures of her suitor and once she is already pregnant for him, all the chips are down. No, couples at courtship must try and maintain their freedom of religion.
May God bless you today!