Headline: Homily: Go Placidly Amid the Troubles of This WorldPosted on: 2014-07-15
Liturgy of the 15th Sunday of the Year A
Homily delivered at the July 2014 Valedictory Mass of Loyola Jesuit College Abuja
By Bishop Emmanuel Ade Badejo
Catholic Diocese of Oyo
I am very happy to have been invited today to play my little part in the life of LJC, an enterprise which has become the beacon of pride for the Catholic Church in Nigeria and for our tested nation at large. For the good name and reputation of all these years I congratulate you all, management, staff and students of LJC Abuja. May the hills, plains and the valleys of this city of Abuja witness that this day be made special in the lives of all of you through Christ our Lord. Amen.
This day is also quite special for me for on this day 53 years ago, God sent me into this world. Now I am not a birthday-celebrating person for I strongly believe that every day I wake up from sleep is my birthday, another opportunity to spend 24 hours in the service of God. I however do not mind at all that your VS has fallen on this day and I am honoured to be here to celebrate it with you. I intended to rake maximum advantage of your presence here to pray with me on my birthday and resolved to preach a 6 hour homily but the Lord visited me during the night and I shall cut it to 25 minutes in obedience to Him.
How well I remember the wonderful Church hymn that so very well; expresses the feeling of this day…
With thankful hearts and joyful songs, we approach your holy altar, in thanksgiving and love. Bearing gifts of your creation we return what you have given in thanksgiving and love
Oh Yes, in the presence of the Lord, I will bring my gift in thanksgiving and love. There is joy in my heart, it is flowing like a river, I will praise the Lord, in thanksgiving and love
Such appropriate words for the mood of this celebration! Just as if we had planned this day in consultation with almighty God, His words to us today are very special and tailor made for our purpose. God reiterates that he will fulfil his promise for you notwithstanding the circumstances of our life. The prophet Isaiah makes that very clear: “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I intend, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it.” (Is. 55:10-11). Did you notice that it was just one single sentence that carries so much promise and power? It is the kind of sentence you want to memorise or use as your ringtone…
The second reading is hardly any different only a little longer as a reading. Consider the opening sentence, from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans 8:18-23. “I consider that the suffering of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” That is another powerful exhortation. And both are very true and have been proven over years.
The Gospel however introduces a very distinct issue. God will do his duty, will fulfil his promise but this God is “a sower who went to sow”. He does his job, the produce, the outcome and the result depend however also on the soil which receives the action of God, the sower. Some seeds fell along the path… devoured by the birds of the air; some fell on rocky soil… the sun scorched them; other seeds fell on thorns and those choked them; but some other seeds fell on good soil and they produced a bountiful harvest, some thirty, others sixty and some others a hundredfold.
Well so there it is my friends the Lord then said “he who has ears to hear let him hear”. Of course everyone has the external; ears to hear the words I speak but how many have the heart to hear them? Very few. That is where the rubber hits the road; that is the crunch! Where do you belong? In our country, in our world today there is a lot of rocky roads, a lot of thorns and a lot of useless terrains. Where do you pitch your tent? How does your terrain facilitate the growth of the things that matter, the values that make living better and the word that sustains life and community?
The golden lesson of all this is that God has given you all he needs to give you and placed you in probably the best school that Nigeria and the Catholic Church or anyone can offer. Such privilege which millions like yourselves can only dream of! What is left is your part to play…You need not play that part by bossing others around stepping on others’ heads or cheating and defrauding No! You do it by believing in God and in yourself. You do it by struggling hard to be the best of who and what God has made you to be. That exactly is the policy of successful people the world over. Remember the old champions league signal tune…(AM DETER MINED TO BE THE BEST, NUMBER ONE NOTHING LESS...)
My dear young people, your youthfulness is a treasure. Use that resource as capital for transformation, capital for changing your environment and other people’s lives. That would be the manifestation of fertile soil bearing fruit manifolds. Use your youth as capital rather than as license for loose-living, for delinquency and decadence. Remember the world stands aside for he who knows where he is going.
Always strive to be the best of what you are meant to be wherever you find yourself: Martin Luther King junior, the American human rights activist said these powerful words: “if it falls on your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, a writer, write like Shakespeare wrote poetry, a musician compose like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘here lived a great sweeper who swept his job well’”. Of course you can choose your local models, P Square, Nice, Eminado… Chimamanda Adichie, Wole Soyinka, etc but anyway, be the best you can be. Remember what Charles Gore said: “God does not want us to do extraordinary things. He wants us to do extraordinary things well”.
Make no excuses, in spite of the condition of this country. They say excuses are the nails used for the coffin of failure. Avoid them! Reach for the stars of excellence at least of you do not get the stars you will end up on the trees. That is high enough from the ground. Believe that this country, your world, is not damaged beyond repair. It is only waiting for your intervention.
Never condescend to leave God out of your plans or scheme. Make God part of your plans always if for no other reason, because he first made you part of His holy plans by putting you here. Well, one good turn deserves another. The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness. (Ps 24:1ff). Note that there is a conspiracy in our day to make religion look like a burden rather than a blessing. Do not join that conspiracy. It is aimed finally at disestablishing God and Godly values from society. It is dangerous. God put you here. He knows best how to navigate the world. If you keep him in sight you will need no miracle, you will always be the miracle. “I bless the Lord who counsels me, who even at night directs my heart. I keep the Lord ever in my sight, says the psalmist, “because he is at my right hand I shall stand firm.” (Ps. 16:7-8) You need God, everybody does. There will be moments when you will find the words of this hymn well suited to your need: “Thou knowest Lord how very weak I am and now I fear to stray. For strength to serve I look to thee alone thy strength you must supply.
It is not out of fashion to believe in God and to declare so. Just last month I remember a remarkable youth I met in Rome, by name Anthonio an Albanian Youth in Rome. He was not afraid at all in the midst of the motley crowd to declare to me that he was a believer and a catholic in full view of his very modern friends in a public restaurant.… Very rare thing to see… in Europe…It will be difficult for me to forget him.
Dare to stand out….in good thing, stand up and be different. Let me use here the words of my friend, Fr George Ehusani,
Let no one despise your youth, precious child for in the tender heart of youth is the seed of wholesome humanity. In the fiery passion of youth lies the future promise of love, of joy and of bliss. They are very similar to the words which St. Paul long ago said to Timothy: let no one reproach you on account of your youth. Be a model to the believers in the way you speak and act, in your love, your faith and purity of life” (1Tim 4: 12) Take those words seriously. Just as seriously, take the wise words which I propose to you from Max Ehrmann… wise, balanced and deep, under the title: “Desiderata”. You can find the poem on the internet. I have no doubt that they are inspired by the Gospel message through and through….Here they are:
Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Strive to be happy.
Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.
God bless you all and may he go with you as you step out into higher life…Amen
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