BY: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)



*Amos 2 : 6 – 16, Mt 8 : 18 – 32.

Amos is one prophet that does not spare the rich in their oppressive attitude towards the poor. A prophet is supposed to be the ‘conscience of the people’. Amos did this job so well. In today’s 1st reading, he warns the Northern kingdom of Judah who in the midst of affluence, allowed so much corruption to set in. He tells them that they have ‘sold the righteous for silver and the needy for a pair of shoes’. Affluence has a lot of side effects; It causes insensitivity to the will of God and love of neighbour; It allows less room for devotion to prayers and the dependence on the grace of God; It creates a tendency towards selfishness, self protection and exploitation of the poor. It creates room for a lot of favouritism where the rich will be getting richer and the poor getting poorer. In some of our nearby Universities where a lot of employment opportunities have manifested, it is scandalous to see aristocracy play out at the highest level with many Professors employing their wives, children and relatives for the teaching job in our Higher Institutions, leaving the unconnected not even a single chance of any objective advertisement and application for these positions; terrible situation!!!

The difference between the average Hausa rich men and their Igbo counterpart is that the former seems to be closer to the poor than the latter. The rich politicians and business men among the Hausa – Fulani have a way of keeping their poor ones feeding under their table (even though this empoverishes them all the more) while majority of the Igbo rich class only reaches out to them during elections when they need their vote. So, are we surprised that the Miyetti Allah and other Northern sociopolitical and religious establishments are holding the rest of Nigerians today to ransom? They will be using them for perpetuation of power, supplying them arms for Islamization and terrorism in order to secure their cattle business while our own rich politicians and business men are busy strategizing for perpetuation of political power come 2023.

Even in the Church, there is a widening gap between the rich and the poor. The incessant fund raising for endless projects that is now done almost every Sunday keeps many of our poor people on edge every now and then. So many Parishes use methods that seem to classify even the blessings that follow these offerings; blessings for those that give in millions, in thousands, in hundreds and in kobos. The whole thing is getting rather nauseating. Fundraising takes place during weddings, funerals and even investitures. Soon it may begin also during priestly ordinations and religious professions.

With all the economic recession in this country, come and see the kind of wastage we exhibit during our rich men’s funeral ceremonies; the amount spent on bourgousie tents, costly IVs, brouchures and other appurtenances of societal classification. Even the clergy are brandished as signs of affluence since even the most occultic among the rich class still have plenty of priests on display at their flamboyant ceremonies. I can hear Jesus smiling at us and saying: ‘Follow me and leave the dead to bury their own’. We need to learn to spend less on our burial ceremonies. Let’s share our resources more with the poor. Let’s find a way of exerting less taxations on the poor people of God in the Church and encourage more of freewill donations than levies, afterall, projects never really finish. Let’s give the poor opportunities for good education, admission to our Universities, job opportunities and even opportunity to enter into leadership positions. If we allow this madness called “affluence” to block our visions, I am afraid it is going to destroy us sooner or later.

May God bless you today!

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