(Lenten reflection by Fr. Oselumhense Anetor)
Mr. Joseph, the National secretary of FECAMDS (Federation of Catholic Medical and Dental Students) asked me for a Lenten reflection for fecamdsites earlier today… This is the fruit of that request. It’s not just for fecamdsites, but for us all…
It’s no longer news that Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. This year, Pope Francis wants us to fight the syndrome of indifference; something that has become a global phenomenon. He says we must do this by reflecting on three scriptural passages:
- 1. “If one member suffers, all suffer together” (1 Cor 12:26) – The Church
- 2. “Where is your brother?” (Gen 4:9) – Parishes and Communities
- 3. “Make your hearts firm!” (James 5:8) – Individual Christians
In Nigeria for instance, we’ve had so many Christians suffer untold hardship particularly due to the Boko Haram insurgency. Whatever affects these brothers and sisters of ours affects us. We must feel the pains they feel. We must bear the crosses they have borne and still continue to bear – the nagging fear, the loss of homes and property, the loss of friends and loved ones… These are real pains we must think about as the Church begins these forty days of atonement. Since we’re one body in Christ, we dare not remain indifferent to the sufferings of those around us. This season of Lent, we must make efforts to alleviate a neighbours’ suffering, a brother/sister’s pain…
In Gen. 4:9 God asks Cain about Abel his brother. This lent is another opportunity for us to make a proper response to that question. Is it not the case that some of our parishioners are weak and in need of constant encouragement? Don’t we have fecamdsites who have totally backslided? Aren’t there infants among us worth carrying on stronger shoulders? Friends, look around you, every brother/sister bears the face of Jesus crucified. It’s all for one, and one for all. I believe the challenge to take care of one another is central to our mission as ‘healers’ of the sick.. Our presence in our universities must exude the mercy of God to our young people, who are always in need of mercy and compassion.
Finally, we must not say that we’re too insignificant to make any change. Our holy father says that we must keep our hearts firm. This is in fact the title of his lenten message this year. James 5:8 encourages us not to lose heart. Aluta continua! We must learn to pray as a Church, as a community, and of course, as individuals. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. The pope has specifically asked us to bear March 13-14 in mind as a day of prayer for the universal Church. These are times when we must take our prayer sessions and meetings most seriously. There is nothing impossible to God.
Finally I say “stand firm, hold your heads high, for your salvation is nigh” (Lk.21:28)…
Stop and think!
You probably have heard the word Xenophobia. Hmmmmm. It’s not just about South Africans killing black immigrants. It’s about people killing people. Humans killing humans. Is it different from what ISIS is doing in Lybia, Ethiopia and many parts of the Middle East? Is it different from what Boko Haram is doing in Nigeria? Killing is killing, irrespective of who does it to whom. The Bishop of Maiduguri said in a recent interview, we must bring out our rosaries and begin a spiritual campaign against Satan. Even the Vatican Exorcist has equalled ISIS to Satan
Satan is on the loose. Make no mistakes about it. Stand up to him strong in faith… And for those who constantly tell us to stop spiritualising everything, please offer us a better explanation of what is going on. We will be more than glad to listen (even when we disagree).
Have a lovely day dear…
Rev. Fr. Oselumhense K. Anetor