Posted on: 2017-08-01

Our world’s fantasies

Today’s world offers a plethora of fantasies and many people take in an overdose of it. The more advanced our civilization is, the more it seems to plunge many into self-centeredness and inordinate acquisitions. Technology, mixed with the discoveries of science often draws hapless people away from the awareness of God. The book of Ecclesiastes declares “Vanity upon vanity, all is vanity (Eccl. 1:2). There really should be no stress between science and religion especially for those who believe in God and his word. What greater science can there be than to know God and know his ways? Psalm 19 reads: “Heaven declares the glory of God and the firmament shows forth his handiwork. One of the best signs of that knowledge is to have divine wisdom to enable us as human beings know our real worth and limits. That is why we often hear that the most important questions for man to answer are those that concern his essence and destiny: “Who am I? Where am I from? What am I here for and where am I going?”

God’s inexorable, holy plan

With God anyway there are no coincidences. Everything is in fact accommodated in his holy plan whatever the course history may seem to take. The readings at Mass last Sunday presented us with how God appeared to Solomon at Gibeon and gave him a golden opportunity to ask for whatever he desired. God said: “Ask what I shall give you”. Solomon, conscious of his status before God, made an unusual choice. “Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people that I may discern between good and evil” His answer pleased the Lord, who then gave him far more than he could ever have imagined. God said to Solomon:  “I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you”. It was an occasion in which the word of God put us on trial whether we remain focused on the essential things of life or not. It was a reminder that when we focus on the things of God other good things indeed get thrown into the bargain. The Gospel then reinforced the lesson with the parable of the treasure hidden in a field which one man found and sold everything to buy. The peculiarity of this treasure is first that it is hidden and therefore not given to undiscerning minds to find. Secondly, to buy it the one who is interested in it has to sell everything he owns to buys it. What a treasure that must be! Certainly it is not the kind of treasure that lazy or stingy people can get but the sort that God would want to grant to his dear children.

From good theory down to practice

Saint Robert Bellarmine once said: “Charity is that with which no one is lost and without which no one is saved” Just as well that last Sunday I witnessed a not-so-common birthday thanksgiving. A self-contented gentleman by name Ademola Williams chose to celebrate his 70th anniversary with orphans and handicapped children from the local hospital and Centre for the Handicapped. He assembled his friends and family at the thanksgiving Mass along with those less-privileged children. Prayers were said during the Mass for victims of terrorism, war and other disasters all over the world. The birthday celebrant then hosted the children at a well-planned reception afterwards. When, before the close of Mass he was called forward to say a few words of appreciation to all present, he spoke in words similar to the following: “I said to myself that I am nearing my end. When I die I shall be brought to this church. It is good that I get familiar with these people and this environment”. He surely conducted some catechism by his choice, making a gesture that should remind us all of Jesus very critical teaching.  “When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relations or rich neighbours, in case they invite you back and so repay you. No; when you have a party, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; then you will be blessed, for they have no means to repay you and so you will be repaid when the upright rise again” (Lk.14:12-14). It was on that occasion that Jesus told the story about those who will qualify to participate at the heavenly banquet.

Mr. Ademola Williams’ birthday was simply a pointer to what we all should actually be doing, bringing succor to those who require it in our society. Thankfully, many Christians who are already engaged in such charity work are different levels like the care of widows, of the elderly, the sick, prisoners, the hungry, and so on. Given the large numbers of such people in our communities today there is obviously enough work for all to do.  This indeed is wisdom and a treasure field offered to us all. To buy it, we might need to sell all we own but the reward is undeniable. Jesus said: “Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God’s saving justice, and all these things will be given you as well” (Matt 6:33). For those who truly seek eternal life, his words are nothing short of trustworthy.