YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 3RD WEEK OF LENT
HOMILY THEME: ALL PROTOCOLS OBSERVED!
BY: Fr. Ben Agbo
HOMILY: Feast of St Joseph, Husband of Mary
* 2 Sam 7: 4 – 12, Matt 1: 16 – 24.
Man is ceremonious by nature and the human society is characterized by protocols ; protocols for contracting marriage, protocols for celebrating the birth of a child, protocols for celebrating the initiation of a child into his societal religion, protocols for celebrating the maturity of a child into manhood or womanhood, protocols for celebrating the death of a man /woman. Part of the moral decay we observe in our society today is the breaking of protocols – especially regarding the due process for the contraction of marriage and admission into family life. Our people say: ‘A kpaaakpaa a laru n’ ute’ – When there is dialogue there is success. Every culture respects the need for due process before marriage but today, in the name of Christianity, we are fast beginning to swim in the ocean of impropriety. Whether we call it ‘white wedding’ or ‘traditional wedding’ protocols must be duely respected before a man leaves his father and mother and gets united to his wife.
In today’s gospel, we are told that Mary was betrothed to Joseph but before they came to live together as husband and wife she was found to be with child. Joseph had interacted sufficiently with Mary without any carnal knowledge of her and had built such a trust and respect for her that when he discovered she was pregnant he knew something must be wrong somewhere. He decided not to disgrace her. These days, as soon as a man signals interest in a woman, sex begins and the next minute they are already living together even before the parents know it and even before the ‘Umunna’ (kindred) or the community of believers (Church) get to know it the woman is already pregnant. I have often imagined that if Joseph’s society was as mad as today’s society, the whole theological mystery about the Virgin birth of Mary and the Divine conception of Jesus would have been lost to the wind of social frivolity. It is necessary to observe all protocols in marriage; from mere acquaintance to friendship stage, from friendship stage to courtship stage, from courtship stage to betrothal stage, from betrothal stage to marital stage. At the marital stage, let there be a celebration from ‘Umunna’ (kindred) to the public. We must not use the idea of Church wedding to break protocols. It can be as cheap as possible but let due processes be respected. Marriage is no small business! I do not support the Charismatics or any group that discourages courtship and encourages prophesy as a process of choice of partner. Go to our marriage tribunals today and confirm the effects of such irrational culture. All protocols must be duely observed in the process of marriage – the couple must know themselves without coitus and the proper processes of celebration should take place.
I however think we should avoid unnecessary duplications in our traditional ceremonies of marriage. There is for instance no need for a woman to carry wine and be looking for her husband after wedding. That should have been done during the traditional ceremony of “Mmanya Umunna”. St Joseph remains a model not only for all Christian spouses in premarital continence but for all celibates in the custody of virginity. May God bless you today!