Fr. Ben’s homily for Friday of the 6th week of Easter
Theme: OUR ELECTORAL PROCESSES!
By: Fr. Benedict Agbo
Homily for Friday May 14 2021
Feast of St Mathias
* Act 1 : 15 – 23, Jn 15 : 9 – 17.
Among children of God, officers are servants of the people of God who participate responsibly in the ministry of leadership. Remember that there are hierarchical gifts of the Holy Spirit ; Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors, Teachers, Eph 4 : 9 – 13 and the Charismatic gifts ; Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Helpful acts….1 Cor 12 : 18 – 30, all these mearnt to be used for service of the Children of God. There is still this ugly reality that among the children of God ; indeed ‘among every 12 apostles there must be a Judas’ – who tends to betray his master and finally abandons his call for service for personal ambition. Many come into offices for selfish/ political reasons and like Judas are bound to be frustrated by the realization that there is actually nothing to gain materially from Church ministries.
Immediately after the demise of Apostle Judas, there was a big vacancy for his office. The apostolic college consulted the scriptures which said : ‘Let his habitation become desolate and let there be no one to live in it and his office let another take’. It pains me what happens whenever we are about to have vacancies in some sensitive posts especially here in Nigeria, how people carelessly embark on the electoral process. A big post like the position of an apostle, the President of a Country, Governor of a State, the traditional ruler of a community or Vice Chancellor of a strategic University like UNN should be taken very seriously in finding a successor for its seat especially when the immediate past leader is seen like Judas to have messed up.
In the electoral process for the election of the successor of Apostle Judas, as we find in today’s 1st reading, the following points should be noted;
1. The electoral criteria was clear ; ‘One of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us’. The criteria must be objective, not contrapted to favour a desired candidate.
2. The electoral council was clearly constituted ; no form of political jerrimandering.
3. The nomination process was transparent ; Joseph and Mathias were clearly handpicked and everybody understood why they were nominated.
* The Nomination stage is one of the most delicate stages in an election process. Unfortunately, this is where we often mess up the process here in Nigeria. And once the wrong people have been nominated, the rest of the process is sabotaged.
4. The final election was free and fair ; casting of lots were prayerfully done for both of them and the lot fell on Mathias. Today, terrible things happen during our casting of votes even in the house of God and many Christians keep quiet.
The kind of nomination/ election of officers which we find in today’s first reading is a very prayerful and spiritual one. The criteria of nomination of officers must be clearly set out in an ideal election. We need clear nomination where members are allowed to look thoroughly at the worthy candidates that are available and not the kind of manipulated primaries that we see here in Nigeria. When good / supported nomination of officers have been done, then free and fair elections (casting and counting of lots / ballots) can now ensue.
Jesus reminds us in the gospel to abide in his love. The love of Christ requires a lot of sacrifice. And sacrifice is the hallmark of Christian leadership. Real believers actually do not appoint themselves. They are chosen by God through the people. Jesus said : ‘You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit…’ Until we begin to take election of our officers as very serious spiritual business which require both prayer and due process, sensitive positions in Nigerian leadership (secular and ecclesiastical) will continue to fall into the wrong hands. Jesus admonishes his disciples in today’s gospel : ‘As the Father has loved me so I have loved you… remain in my love (agape love)’ – continue to make sacrifices in leadership and don’t strive for personal gains. He says ‘Greater love has no man than this that a man should lay down his life for his friends’… and I call you friends now – special ministers in the house of God who understand the heartbeat of Jesus more and are ready to make sacrifices to realize God’s eternal purpose. Take for example, the Chairmen, Secretaries and Treasurers of Station/ Parish Councils make phone calls, transport themselves to meetings, burn out their precious time doing the work of God without looking for personal gains because they know that their reward is in heaven. The Church must reflect exemplary leadership and translate same to the secular society. We must show the world example of how to nominate and elect the right people to offices. We must take our Primary elections seriously if we must hope for any change in the quality of Nigerian leadership.
May God bless you today!
FR BEN AGBO