Eph. 1:1-10, Ps. 97:1-6, Acc. Ps. 110:7, 8, Gospel Luke 11:47-54

We begin today our reading from the letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians. In our gospel, we are still reading from Chapter 11 of Luke’s gospel. Today, Christ continues his repudiation of the pharisaic mentality.

Two things I consider important (not as though others are not) for our reflection today, are the opening words of the gospel, and its concluding words.

Alas for you who build the tombs of the prophets, the men your ancestors killed! In this way you both witness what your ancestors did and approve it; they did the killing, you do the building”

This portion of our text, simply addresses; aiding and abetting, or witnessing and accomplice.

Following the legal structure, a criminal charge of aiding and abetting or accessory is usually brought against anyone who helps in the commission of a crime. A person charged with aiding and abetting or accessory is may not be present when the crime itself is committed, but he or she may have knowledge of the crime before or after the fact, and may assist in its commission through advice, actions or inaction, or through financial support.

With the above, Our attention is once again drawn to the fact that sin is not only what we do, what we fail to do may also constitute sin for us.

As Christians we have the obligation to speak up in the face of evil and never to keep silent. For our silence may either encourage or support an evil. Little wonder then, in the law court it is said, Silence means consent.

Then the question which becomes imperative is; How loud is our voice against the various ills that plague our world today? Corruption, bigotry, homosexuality, gay marriage, prostitution, to mention but a few. Have you sponsored or assisted someone or a friend to procure abortion? if we remain silent in the face of these catastrophes then we are as culpable as those who commit them! The invitation therefore is never to aid or abet evil. This reminds me of one of Nigeria’s finest and oldest priest. Late Msgr. Pedro Martins whose mantra is “Speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil” perhaps we should make it ours too.

Furthermore, the concluding words “Alas for you lawyers who have taken away the key of knowledge! You have not gone in yourselves, and have prevented others going in who wanted to” is also another repudiation that is worthy of note.

This concluding word is an attack on how laws are interpreted. Once I read this gospel text, I couldn’t stop wondering if at one time or the other I haven’t being guilty of this. There are days have preached very sternly about God’s judgments and the punishment of hell, neglecting how also merciful God is. I remember very lucidly those days today, and I can only just pray and hope that I didn’t drive people to despair or a situation where they think their situation is irredeemable.

Today then, we must turn to preachers, theological experts, with particular reference to our moral theologians, parents, catechism teachers etc, and ask them how have you disseminated Christ’s message? Have you made it accessible or driven people to despair through your message?

There’s a street close to our Seminary in Ibadan, it is called Awolowo Street. It is a very popular street in Ibadan. From the start to the finish, you will always find hotels, pubs or club houses. And of course, at night, you see hookers loitering the whole street. I remember a priest once told how he parked to buy suya. Suya is the Hausa name for roasted meat. Once he parked, the entire girls came rushing forth hoping to make him their company for the night. Lo and behold they saw him in his clerical shirt, he told me how they even made fun of how they were going to give him “an ecclesiastical discount.” Typical of him, he seized the opportunity to evangelize. He told me he had a conversation with one of the girls and told her about hell and its horrifying flames. From her disposition, She seem to have had that in her Plan, perhaps saying to herself before she embarked on such way of life “Well, is not hell fire, we will go.” He then decided to switch to a discussion about God’s unending love for sinners. This seems to work for she broke into tears as the priest reported.

As leaders of God’s people in whatever capacity, we must today, more than ever before, learn to make Christ’ message accessible to people, and not be like the lawyers who make it totally unbearable, let us follow in the footstep of Christ who himself said My burden is light and my yoke is easy!



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