Detailed homily for the 3rd Sunday of Lent Year B
Theme: WAGING WAR AGAINST EVIL THROUGH RIGHTEOUS ANGER.
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily for Sunday March 7 2021
R1 – Ex 20:1-17.
RESP PS – Ps 19:8-11
R2 – 1Cor 1:22-25
GOSPEL – John 2:13-25
Mary Slessor, was the Scotswoman missionary in Africa, who fought at length to put an end to the ill-fettish and obnoxious practice of Killing new-born twins, commonly practiced in the 19th century among the Ibibio people in Calabar and different parts of Africa.
She became known for her interest in women and children’s rights and wellbeing, which were often at risk in Calabar. When twins were born, it was thought that one of them was the child of the devil and since it was not known which one, both would be left to die in a bush and the mother banished from the community – often a death sentence itself.
Mary Slessor, soon took it upon herself to rescue and protect these vulnerable women and children and made it her priority to change cultural beliefs about twins. Although it was discouraged by the mission society to adopt any of the abandoned children, Mary was one of the few who ignored the rules.
She sent out twins’ missioners to find and care for abandoned twins at the mission house, and adopted every child she found. Once, she took in a baby girl as her own daughter, calling her Janie and eventually taking her back to Scotland.
Over her lifetime, Mary saved hundreds of twins from the bush. As a missionary, she saw these obnoxious practices as evil, frowned at them, waged war against them and excelled in spreading the word of Jesus Christ among various tribes in Calabar, which won her an honour as the “White Queen of Okoyong’.
Beloved in Christ, today’s Gospel reading, pictures the righteous anger of Jesus, who, seeing the desecration of a holy place, decided to drive out all the money changers.
Jesus, by His words and actions in today’s Gospel reading, challenges us to stand up, frown and wage war against evil and injustice around us; thereby, immitating Mary Slessor’s unflinching resilience in rising and speaking against evil and injustice meted out on millions of children and women across Africa, with our religious and social status.
Today’s Gospel gives us the dramatic account of Jesus cleansing the Temple of its merchants and moneychangers, followed by a prediction of his death and Resurrection. The abuses which kindled the prophetic indignation of Jesus were the conversion of God’s Temple into a “noisy marketplace” by the animal merchants and into a “hideout of thieves” by the moneychangers with their grossly unjust business practices – sacrilege in God’s Holy Place. Jesus’ reaction to this commercialized Faith was fierce- the kind of approach we need to adopt in the face of loss of sense of sin in our world today. Since no weapons were allowed inside the Temple, Jesus had to construct his own weapon, a whip of cords to drive out the merchants and moneychangers from the Court of the Gentiles.
*JESUS’ EXPRESSION OF RIGHTEOUS ANGER*
In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus, whom St Paul addressed as ‘the wisdom of God’ in the second reading, rising against evil with some exhibitions of righteous anger towards the purported money changers in the temple. Righteous anger stems from an anger that arises when we witness “an offense against God or His Word.” It is typically a reactive emotion of anger over perceived mistreatment, insult, or malice. Righteous anger attacks the sin instead of the sinner. By so doing, we point out something incorrect about one’s thinking or actions to bring them back to the path of righteousness. Most prominently, the scripture pictures Jesus’ show of righteous anger:
(i) Lk 1:41 – Jesus’ feeling of indignation at the healing of the leper.
(ii) Mk 10:14 – Jesus was indignant on those stopping little children to come to him.
(iii) Jn 2:16 – Jesus’ indignation against the money changers.
We imitate Jesus’ righteous anger as our own weapon for waging war against evil and injustice around us. Nonetheless, such expression of righteous anger, must not allow the sun set over it (Eph 4:26).
As we frown and wage war against evil, injustice and corruption around us in this Lenten Campaign, we are recommended to adopt the following strategies:
(1) *STRICT OBEDIENCE TO THE GOD’S COMMANDMENTS.*
The first reading teaches us that the Ten Commandments are the basis of our religious and spiritual life. And for us to effectively influence others, we must learn to uphold God’s commandments, not human regulations; whereby, we conform not by earthly standards (Rom 12:2), rather, making the will of God, the source of our spiritual nourishment (Jn 4:34).
(2) *RAISING OUR PROPHETIC VOICES AGAINST INJUSTICE.*
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, says Martin Luther king Jnr. Jesus, in his entire ministry, never allowed his prophetic voice to be stiffled or silenced by the power that be. Today, there are injustices, inhuman agendas and policies which the government is heartlessly enforcing on the poor masses seeking redress to some societal concerns and ills. Nevertheless, many prophetic voices have been silenced with threats, compromises, gifts, etc. So many people are suffering today because of our silence and insensitivity…. Remember, these words that spurred Esther’s prophetic voice to be heard, “If you persist in remaining silent at such a time, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter, but both you and your father’s whole family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to the throne for just such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).
(3) *OPERATION STOP ONE EVIL AROUND YOU.*
When we look around us today, in our lives, families, communities, governmental ministries and parastatals, church, profession, vocation, careers and businesses, there are some evil practices, like osu, diala, ume caste systems, intimidation and victimisation of the poor and widow, sex for grade, kola for employment, etc, that require urgent intervention. Pay attention to them this Lenten season; you could be the Mary Slessor of such obnoxious practice. In Jesus’ time, it was desecration of the temple, false religiosity and impressionistic spirituality.
Finally, Abraham Lincoln was angry at slavery. Martin Luther King Jr. was angry at racial discrimination, Mahatma Gandhi was angry at the racial discrimination against the “untouchables” by the “high castes” in India … righteous anger. Nelson Mandela was angry at apartheid in South Africa. These societal giants frowned and waged war against injustice and evil in their time through righteous anger. In Nigeria, what are you angry at……? Do we dine and wine with the victimizers and oppressors, thus fueling and fanning evil and sacrilege.
Beloved in Christ, God has wired us into various societal parts for a purpose. Rise up today and advance the campaign against evil and injustice around us.
MAY GOD RECREATE IN US, A HEART OF SENSITIVITY AND HUMANITY TOWARDS SOCIAL INJUSTICE AND SOCIETAL EVIL AROUND US. AMEN.
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
_FR GERALD MUOKA_