TRY TO BE TRUE DISCIPLES
Sermon by Archbishop Kaigama in South Africa, at St. Charles Church, Victory Park, Johannesburg, 16th Sunday, 19th July, 2015
This is my first visit to South Africa and I am happy that my first Sunday Mass is taking place in your parish Church of St. Charles. To fly to Johannesburg we travelled 3,803 miles from Lagos. Each time I travel, I am reminded of God’s power. He sustained us for hours in that big bird in the air carrying hundreds of people. Some call it the power of technology. I call it the power of God. We should recognize the power and centrality of God in all we do. St. Augustine said, “our hearts are restless until they rest in Him”.
I am happy to celebrate Mass in this beautiful Church. A Church is a place of communion where Jesus invites us to come away from the hustle and bustle of life, to find peace. Christianity as you know has vertical and horizontal dimensions. When we relate to God in prayer it is vertical. When we share our burdens and our joys in the spirit of the second reading (Eph. 2:13-18) by allowing Christ to be and to help us break down the dividing wall of enmity, it is the horizontal dimension.
The Catholic Church is a family of God. One should feel at home in it easily. See how coming for the first time I have been so graciously welcomed by the Oblate community here in Victory Park. I was also warmly received by your Archbishop, same in Regina Mundi Parish, Soweto, St. Hubert Parish Alexandra, where I saw Fr. Cairns care for orphaned children, the aged and young girls in trouble. There I met young people from the UK volunteering, and different groups offering free services on Mandela day. Fr. Emmanuel Youngten who has proven to be an excellent tour guide brought me to all these places including the National Seminary in Pretoria. We also visited a students hostel in Johannesburg and they shared their coca cola, barbecued fish and chicken with us.
Being a Christian should mean more than coming to Church. Make a difference in people’s lives. Be involved in improving humanity. We have three types of Christians: curious onlookers, mere followers and true disciples. Try to be true Disciples. True disciples are not indifferent. They witness to their faith at home, place of work, recreation place etc., making a difference positively in people’s lives.
The first reading from Jer. 23:1-6 today challenges us priests in line with what Pope Francis has been saying that priests should be close to the people, especially the poor. I had ordination of six priests in Jos recently and I told them that priests are not soothsayers or motivational speakers or preachers of a cheap Christianity, miracles and prosperity. Like the Pope said during his recent visit to Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay, shepherds/priests should be concerned about corruption, poverty and inequality.
You know, sometimes our faith gets tested. God asked Abraham to leave his country, sacrifice his son…. Our faith is tested sometimes in the priesthood, in marriage, in a troublesome son or daughter, in a chronic sickness, an accident, some discouragement or frustration. In the North Eastern part of Nigeria the faith of Christians is being tested by Boko Haram, a militant Islamic group that wants the Koran or Sharia to be the basis for daily existence, hence, they want to destroy western education and democracy and force people to accept Islam. They kill indiscriminately, before, only Christians but now, both Muslims and Christians. Women and young people strap bombs on themselves and kill themselves while taking the lives of many daily.
We have a new President (Muhammadu Buhari) who is ready to fight corruption, religious fanaticism and insecurity in Nigeria. Please join us in prayer so that Nigeria will witness peace which will flow like a river. Be assured too of our prayers for your country and indeed the whole world. May God bless you now and always.