Fr. Ben’s homily for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B
Theme: POLITICS AND CHRISTIAN LIFE!
By: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
Homily for Sunday September 19 2021
* Wis 2 : 12 – 20, Js 3 : 16 – 4 : 3, Mk 9 : 30 – 37.
The shallowest definition of prayer is to see prayer as the expression of our hearts’ desire and James insists in today’s 2nd reading that Christian spirituality and prayer life should not be reduced to the struggle for the realization of our individual selfish ambitions. Just imagine two Christian teams in a world cup praying each to win the tournament to the same God….Can you see God’s dilemma when Christians are overladen with worldly ambitions? God will surely be on a different side. Politics is all about the struggle for leadership. God is always on the side of the most righteous and most knowledgeable.
B. THE POLITICS OF OPPOSITION
Today’s 1st reading speaks about the opposition of the righteous as a normal facticity in life. The enemy is always uncomfortable with the presence of the righteous and tries to undo the virtuous man in every society. In today’s gospel Jesus prophesies that ‘The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men…’. But they did not understand him. Every good Christian must be prepared for this politics of opposition; the disagreement between light and darkness, the daily confrontations between virtues and vices and the constant debacle between truth and falsity.
C. THE POLITICS OF AMBITION
James argues in today’s 2nd reading: ‘Where do the conflicts among you originate? Is it not your inner cravings that make you war within your members? The problem of jealousy and ambition is intrinsic in human nature. Even among clerics, you can still see vain ambitions, gossips and back biting. There is always the difficulty of agreeing on one theological issue (liturgical, administrative or pastoral matters like modalities for inculturation, transfer/posting of priests, etc), except usually on doctrinal matters (where the authority of the Church stamps the final word). In secular politics, the political parties are joggling it out now with the issues of zoning/ selection of so called consensus candidates at the primaries. The usual result is that there is always deflections to the opposition party as soon as the ruling party concludes their primaries because no one is humble enough to concede to the other even after one or more tenures of failure.
Even after the transfer of priests, new priests feel threatened by the presence of their predecessors or successors as the case may be. And usually, the bone of contention is not evangelism but what I call “territorial possession/control”. Fr Dr Eugene Odo has warned us priests during our last retreat about what he calls “My Parish mentality”. It is not our Parish. It is not even the Parish of the Bishop but the Parish of Jesus Christ. We can never all exhaust our individual opportunities for evangelization even after our transfer. We should also never make things administratively difficult for our successors or predecessors.
D. CHRIST’S ADVICE
Jesus affirms the negative effects of mundane politics in Christian spirituality. He understands the human temperamental political tendencies as manifested among his disciples in today’s gospel but he does not give up on human nature and proposes a remedy – THE LITTLE CHILD PARADIGM. This is the paradigm of humility that is capable of changing the face of politics both within and outside the Church. Humility is accepting one’s human/ temperamental limitations and depending on Divine grace for growth and integration (borrowing the language of ENNEAGRAM).
Without humility, there is no Christian maturity. Prayer becomes mundane and selfish. Christian retreats become mere exercise of human sorphistry and religiousity. According to Fr Carr, ‘To be a Christian, one must be mature. To be mature is to have the ability to put another’s need above one’s own. It is to be tolerant. It is to realize we live in an imperfect world’. Politics is one unavoidable aspect of human life. The fact remains true in Nigeria today that the Church’s non – partisan poise in Nigerian politics has put us in grave disadvantage over our Muslim counterparts who play full partisan politics as part and parcel of their religion. Only God can salvage the situation miraculously. We will continue to employ a CHILD LIKE MENTALITY towards politics as Jesus our master has taught us; not having a do or die approach to power/ political ambition and being ready to step down for somebody (irrespective of party, religion or tribe) who will do it better than us. Happy Sunday dear friends!