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Friday, 9 March 2012

Reflection/Homily: Third (3rd) Sunday of Lent Year B (March 11 2012)


           There was this story I read up at the MSNBC website few days ago about Taylor Sauer, 18, an intelligent high school graduate who met her untimely death when she ran into a truck while messaging a pal on facebook as she drove. It was discovered later that Taylor posted on facebook every 90 seconds while driving. Since then, the parents Clay and Shauna Sauer still grieving over the Jan. 12 2012 incident have become lobbyist in their home state Idaho (U.S) urging the state legislature to pass a law banning texting or facebooking while driving. The father said “I think every state should have the texting ban law, it might not make changes right now, but for the young generations, it will be an educational tool, just like the seat belt law”.

             From the background of this story, we see a law (like the law banning texting/facebooking while driving) not as anything evil but as a necessary good to prevent a potential danger. This means that law givers do not give or make laws for punishment or to deprive people of comfort but to ensure people’s safety and general well-being.

            In the first reading, we see the Ten Commandments, an important law that binds all Christians
irrespective of their denominations. This law was given by God to Moses at Mt. Sinai for the observance of all Israelites and by extension, all people of God. This Law should not be seen as a punishment or as an imposition but should be obeyed out of love, conviction and confidence in the God who gave the law. Today, however, people are very uncomfortable with this Law or at least some part of it not because it does not lead to common good but on the basis that they are too many in number. Hence, some agitate for the Ten Commandments to be reduced, even, it is on record that in the past some people approached their Bishop requesting for the removal of the 6th and 9th commandments.


            However, we need to understand the Decalogue (10 commandments) not just as laws simply to be obeyed but as codes of conduct to guide our everyday actions. They are not meant to punish us or deprive us of our joy but to guide our paths towards righteousness. The psalmist says “I keep your Law in my heart so that I will not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11) and “Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path” (Ps. 119:105). If there had been a law prohibiting facebooking while driving, Taylor might not have been so unfortunate if she was conscious of that law. God gave us the law to prove His love for us and to make us always conscious of the good we ought to do and the evil we ought to avoid. So do not consider the commandments as a punishment or as something unrealizable. They are guidelines for practicing love of God and neighbour and are realizable for those who desire to keep them and who ask for God’s grace. If they are too heavy for you, approach Jesus who invites all those with heavy burden to come to him. He promises to help you.

            In our observance of the commandments, we must try to obey the spirit of the Law and not just the letter of the Law. For instance, the 6th commandment forbids adultery in letter but forbids all sorts of immorality (masturbation, pornography, homosexuality, lesbianism, etc) in spirit. Many people consider this to be the most difficult commandment because there is a strong natural passion in all men contrary to it. That is why our streets are full of half-clothed people, our entertainment movies turning into pornography, erotic contents on our adverts and cases of sexual violence and abuse keep increasing daily.
            Other sins against the other commandments abuse others but the sins against the 6th and 9th commandments abuse our bodies also which are the temples of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 6:15-20). Unfortunately, some of these sins have been commercialized and even their commercialization has been legalized in most countries. More people are getting involved in prostitution either as prostitutes or as customers. Some are even unaware that they are prostituting when they give in to the sexual advances of some benefactors/benefactresses, or friends or even relatives for material benefits. We desecrate our bodies which are the temples of the Holy Spirit when we indulge in such acts. In the gospel reading, we see what happens to a desecrated temple – Jesus visits it with a whip and turns everything upside down. At such moments, we suffer the consequences of our sins.

            Therefore brethren, we are invited during this period of lent to cleanse up our temples if we have desecrated it with any form of sexual mess through repentance and reconciliation with God, the Church and our neighbour. We must also apologize to those we may have sexually hurt or even deflowered. We must not justify our irrational sexuality with our innate sexual desires. Some think God is foolish by putting the sexual energy in us yet restricting our use of it, but remember the second reading says “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom”. It is better people think we are foolish by the way we avoid sin than to be thought to be wise by the clever way we commit sin. Bearing in mind that most of us in our foolishness have desecrated this Temple in us, let us invite Jesus for cleansing and for those whose temples were desecrated against their wish, may He also heal them of the wounds. Let us then, keep this temple pure by our holiness of life. God loves you.           

4 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:41 pm

    Dear (Fr) Uwakwe (in case you are a priest), I wish to thank you for the wonderful reflections you have been giving us so far, I enjoy your reflections every week and this week's reflection seems to be the best so far. You were straight to the point.

    I was touched by this reflection because of the sinful life I have lived. I was introduced into prostitution by my late friend in 2009. She died last year in an accident. Though a graduate, I have been very unfortunate to be employed and I consider my lifestyle an easy way out. But having come to a greater awareness of my sins, can Jesus still accept me back? Would he drive me out of his sight with whips as you said. Though a sinner and have not been going to Church, I came in contact with your site through facebook but today, God has caught me. Please help me.

    Stella

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    Replies
    1. Dear Stella, in the first place, I appreciate your courage and metanoia. With regards to your doubt, I am not yet a priest.
      It's a pity that your friend had to lead you thus far away from holiness, it was a journey backwards that can be corrected by moving forward. Stella, Jesus so much loves you that He cares for your return no matter how dirty you think you are. He will wash you clean because He is the living water. Do not be discouraged.The readings last sunday were not to condemn us but to give us a better idea of what we should do.

      Therefore, if you think you have defiled the Temple of God in you, invite Jesus to cleanse it, this time He will be violent not on you but on that sin that has tormented you. After that He will destroy the buildings of sin the devil has erected around you and raise up for you a new spiritual building of holiness and virtues.

      I also advice you to leave the area you've been all this while if possible, get a priest to hear your confession and counsel you. Then try to break the link between you and your customers and even your colleagues. Be determined to say goodbye to your old way and be assured that there is joy in heaven over one sinner who repents. May the joy experienced in heaven because of you enlighten your faith and may the Virgin Mary also assist you at this difficult time. Always keep in touch.

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    2. A lot has happened in your life Stella, but you need not get skeptic about God's forgiveness.God is aware of all those years and kept you for this blessed day of reconciliation.I suggest one tool to YOU as you journey with Jesus to a change that will transform you and that is TRUST. See God in all things that present themselves to get you corrected, such as people,readings, reflections like my colleague's and most especially in the sacrament(if you are a catholic).St Augustine was like you but finding that in God is our utmost repose, he clamoured "O lord you made us and our souls can never rest until it rests in you" this is trust in Augustine gaining grounds inside the mercy of Jesus.
      however, take time to make resolutions.start picking good virtues one by one.Don't over carry~ be slow but steady.Jesus loves You and came for YOU because of that he has kept knocking and now you have opened expect him to come in and make sure you submit all the keys. Good Luck and always bear in mind that you are not the worst because only God knows the righteous man.Never say die until the bones decay.
      J.M

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  2. Anonymous11:34 pm

    THE SPIRITUAL DIALOGUE WITH GOD IN THE SACRAMENT OF RECONCILIATION A WARFARE BY REV FR PAUL IKECHUKWU OGUJIOFFOR
    How can the young remain sinless? By obeying God’s command (cfr. Ps.119:9-11). Sin is easily committed than confessed. We find it very much difficult to have a dialogue with God in the Sacrament of Confession rather we prefer to stay without going to Confession.
    Through the omnipotence and immensity of God’s mercy, he gave us the opportunity of dialoguing with him in the Sacrament of Confession, where Christ is in the person of a priest (cfr. Matt.16:18-19; 1Jn.1:8-2:1-2; 2Sam.12:13-15). The thought of confession is for very many a fight against sin, hence as a spiritual dialogue with God we are able to fight against and win the three major obstacles towards auricular confession. These obstacles are fear, shame and pride.
    FEAR: The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. If we sincerely fear the Lord, confession of our sins will not be a problem. Many Christians are afraid of insecurity from the part of the priest, that their weakness may be publicized. This is far from a priest regarding the Confessional Seal, which every priest ought to preserve under the pain of mortal sin and automatic excommunication (Laetent Sentaentia) on the part of the priest, who make public the sin of somebody who confessed to him. We should also know that there is no sin which God cannot forgive, hence we need not fear if God will pardon our sins. The devil puts into us the fear not to near the confessional and hence deprives us of the free and wonderful mercy of God in the Sacrament of Confession. Therefore, let us resist the devil because with fear of God we grow in holiness of life.
    SHAME: Shame in the positive sense as a virtue helps us to grow in union with God. The shame of spoiling or destroying our relationship with God makes or spurs us into strong and genuine love of God; hence once we sin we are able to go to Confession for spiritual cleansing. In the negative way, the devil puts into us the idea that we may be disregarded if our sins are known by a priest. The Sacrament of Confession helps us to shame the devil and his pomp thereby renewing our friendship with God through spiritual rejuvenation, which we loose when we are in sin.
    PRIDE: Pride is a cancer to spiritual life and a stumbling block to holiness through the Sacrament of Confession. A proud person thinks of himself or herself as so special that nobody should talk about his or her faults. He thinks that he is so important and of high personality whereas in the right sense of it he lacks integrity because there is no humility which is the bedrock of our way towards accepting our nothingness before God in the Sacrament of Confession as to appeal for pardon from God. In the Confession we accept our weaknesses as human and proclaim the Fatherhood of God as our Creator and Invincible Being. By this proclamation of the Fatherhood of God we bring the devil to shame and make conscious to him his disobedience to God by which he was cast out from the celestial home. With pride the devil always wants to deprive us the eternal happiness in heaven, thereby putting into us the resistance to go for Confession when we sin.

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