BY: Fr Andrew Ekpenyong



1. Ideas. From democracy to the machines and tools used in producing the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in or worship, these were all ideas in people’s minds at some point. Hence, the idea that ideas rule the world is self-evident. It is also self-evident that while some ideas build up the human family, other ideas are destructive. Thus, who rules ideas; what rules ideas; the morality of ideas, become important questions for our existence and survival. It is another anniversary of 9/11 when people with destructive ideas tried to destroy symbols of the constructive ideas that other people came up with, 246 years ago, regarding how a nation could be governed, the rights of individuals, the importance of justice, etc. The following day, 12th Sept, 2001, Pope St John Paul II officially at his General Audience condemned the terrorist acts and ideology, while appealing that we all turn to the Ruler of Ideas. He said: “Yesterday was a dark day in the history of humanity, a terrible affront to human dignity. After receiving the news, I followed with intense concern the developing situation, with heartfelt prayers to the Lord. How is it possible to commit acts of such savage cruelty? The human heart has depths from which schemes of unheard-of ferocity sometimes emerge, capable of destroying in a moment the normal daily life of a people. But faith comes to our aid at these times when words seem to fail. Christ’s word is the only one that can give a response to the questions which trouble our spirit. Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the final say. Christian hope is based on this truth; at this time our prayerful trust draws strength from it.”

2. Ruler of Ideas. Brothers and sisters, the Ruler of Ideas, our Creator and Redeemer, not only helps us to prevail over evil ideas and acts committed against us. Our Creator and Redeemer intervenes to rescue us from our own self-destructive ideas and actions. In today’s 1st reading (Ex 32:7-11, 13-14), God says of the Israelites whom God rescued from external aggression and slavery: “They have soon turned aside from the way I pointed out to them,” (Ex 32:8). God rescued them from externally imposed slavery. But the people soon enslaved themselves to sinful ways of living. The Ruler of Ideas still showed mercy. In the 2nd reading (1 Tm 1:12-17), St Paul thanks the Ruler of Ideas, for showing him mercy and acknowledges that he, Paul, once had destructive terrorist ideas and indeed terrorized believers: “I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord. … I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated” ( 1 Tm 1:13). The trend continues in the Gospel reading (Lk 15: 1-32) through three parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. All three parables illustrate recovery, reconciliation, and joy. Destructive ideas therefore entail a loss of direction, as with a lost sheep. Destructive ideas entail a misplacement of values as with a lost coin. Self-destructive ideas are typified by the greed of the prodigal son. But the Ruler of Ideas intervenes to get us back on track, to get our values right and overcome even our self-destructive ideas and actions.

3. Better Ideas. Sisters and brothers, as we observe moments of silence in honor of innocent victims of the 9/11, 2001 terrorist attacks, as we participate in community service to uphold constructive ideas and values, let us like St Paul, thank the Ruler of Ideas for rescuing us from any self-destructive ideas and actions we may have held and acted on, let us thank our Lord Jesus Christ for being the final solution to the problem of evil even as we allow Him to use us as instruments for that solution, instruments of justice, love, reconciliation and peace. Amen.

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