[Opinion] Hard Truth Saves
Dearly beloved of the Eucharistic Lord, are you ready to swallow bitter capsules in order to be healed from a deadly disease like COVID-19?
I am pretty sure that should one be infected by the virus and is assured of a concoction which can cure it, no matter how bitter it may taste, one will gulp it down the throat for instant healing. But are we aware that malaria has taken many lives than COVID-19 since December 2019? Yet, we run away from malaria drugs, while others are not able to complete the course. The main reason is the bitterness of the drugs. YES, THE LATE MR. ANTHONY AHORLU, REV. FR. HENRY AHORLU’S DAD USED TO SAY TO THE YOUTH: “SWEET THINGS WILL KILL YOU”.
When retreatants see me chewing Nim leafs, they squeeze their faces as though it’s poison, then I tell them: YOU PREFER TO BUY NIM COATED IN A CHEMICAL BUT I CHEW THE RAW MATERIAL WHICH IS MORE BITTER BUT MORE THERAPEUTIC.
Jesus speaks the HARD TRUTH to the Jewish leaders, the custodians of the LAW AND THE PROPHETS in today’s Gospel (John 8:21-30): I AM GOING AWAY AND YOU WILL LOOK FOR ME, BUT YOU WILL DIE IN YOUR SIN. WHERE I AM GOING YOU CANNOT COME…
Note that Jesus was only 33 years when He spilled out the TRUTH like the Viper’s venom. Those who have been bitten by a snake or a scorpion can testify to the painful and irritating nature of poison. YES, HARD TRUTH IS LIKE A SERPENT’S VENOM – IT IS SO HOT LIKE PEPPER AND BURNING LIKE FIRE.
That reminds me of a similar statement I made in my last homily to my dear parishioners at St. Raphael Community in September 2017. While preaching, I saw a scene of many people cueing to see me for confession and counselling while my parishioners were struggling to see me in their frustrations. So, I said without thinking: … I HAVE MADE MYSELF AVAILABLE FOR YOU TO BE CLEANSE OF YOUR SINS BUT YOU WON’T COME, NEITHER DO YOU GO ELSEWHERE FOR CONFESSION, AND YET, EVERY SUNDAY YOU FILE FOR THE SACRED BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST. VERY SOON, OTHERS WILL HAVE ME, YOU WILL SEE ME, BUT CANNOT HAVE ME…
It was TRUE as it came to pass in a very short time. While I was sent to Shai Hills, AACC, to direct retreats, God gave me the grace as a confessor to sit for about 20 hours uninterrupted to listen to confessions and direct souls of other people including Muslims. However, when my beloved parishioners attempted on two occasions to come for a retreat, duty called be out of the Centre for a parish retreat at All Saints Catholic Church, Community 11, and a funeral at Martyrs of Uganda, Mamprobi. Time heals with the truth.
So, back to the HARD TRUTH, the essence of RELIGION is the salvation of souls from the devil’s hands. God intends us to be good, better and perfect in His sight. Hence, He teaches us the hard way to equip us for future battles against the devil. He sees farther ahead of us who are finite and limited by space and time. In fact, I pity people who give excuses not to do PENANCE especially in Lent.
It is interesting to note that the reason why we are afraid to disobey the army but can challenge the police is the training regimens. While the army trainees undergo Hard training, the police’s is softer relatively. Hence, where the army can go to fight an enemy, the police will retreat.
So, is the spiritual realm. God is not wicked to have put His beloved children through the desert to be hungry and thirsty. Yet, they complained bitterly which led to the serpents biting them to death. It is interesting how they put it: IN PUNISHMENT, THE LORD SENT AMONG THE PEOPLE SERAPH SERPENTS, WHICH BIT THE PROPLE SO THAT MANY OF THEM DIED.
Now, one may ASK: WHY SHOULD GOD WHO IS ALL LOVING PUNISH HIS CHILDREN LIKE THAT? I have said, and would continue to say; GOD HAS SEEN THE SUFFERING OF HIS BELOVED CHILDREN EVER SINCE CREATION, HENCE, HE WILL PERMIT EVIL TO BEFALL US IF WE REFUSE TO LISTEN TO HIS VOICE. AND, THE ULTIMATE GOAL IS THE CONVERSION OF OUR HEARTS AND THE SALVATION OF OUR SOULS.
But, in actual fact, God did not rain down the fiery serpents from heaven. Note that for the Israelites, God was the author of all things, both good and bad. So, if He could give them water from a rock and food from heaven, then He was as well responsible for their woes. However, geography reveals that there are desert snakes known as VIPERS. They are very deadly. They hide in parts of the desert as their habitat. Now, for their self defense, God has given all snakes a sensor to help them run from danger.
However, for their own protection also, God has put the venom in them as their last bullet when threatened. Others like pythons and anacondas swallow so they cannot bite. So, in fact, not all snakes are poisonous. And, they have at least three uses:
1. Their flesh is very nutritious for consumption.
2. Their fat is a very effective ointment for healing.
3. Their skin is used for belts, bags and shoes.
So, the Israelites were punished, and indeed God looked on for them to walk through such snake infested area as they complained. This is why St. Paul tells the Philippians that they should DO EVERYTHING WITHOUT COMPLAINING OR ARGUING.
ANYONE WHO COMPLAINS LOSES POSITIVE ENERGY AND THUS BECOME LITHERGIC. WITH DESTRUCTIVE ENERGY ONE LOSES CONTROL OF HIS OR HER IMMEDIATE ENVIRONMENT. SO, THEY LOST CONSCIOUSNES OF THEIR ENVIRONMENT AND HENCE, SUFFERED FROM THE SNAKE BITES.
The Image of God:
Now, to all who never rest but constantly persecute the Church for worshipping idols because of the statues in the Church, here is a typical proof of the power of SACRED IMAGES.
Unfortunately, some who claim to be Catholics are worse persecutors of the Church. But I dare them to believe that they are not CATHOLICS even if they receive Holy Communion. They are like the Jews who refused to believe in JESUS as the TRUE IMAGE of the Father. Yes, I also acknowledge that some of our youth have been questioned by their Protestant friends for lack of knowledge. They quote the First and Second Commandments and the molten calf to support their ignorance. Yet, in the same Exodus, God dictated to Moses to supervise the molding of the SERAPHIC bodies in the Ark of the covenant, and these were statues.
Then, in today’s first reading from Numbers 21, we read how for their remedy, God asked Moses to fashion a BRONZE SERPENT and hang on a tree so that those who looked at it in faith would be healed, and AMEN, it happened.
It is still their argument that that happened in the old testament but Jesus preached a different Gospel of salvation. Those people should hear was Jesus Christ says in John: JUST AS MOSES LIFTED UP THE SERPENT IN THE DESERT, SO WILL THE SON OF MAN BE LIFTED UP…
In the study of metaphysics, that is, the study of the immaterial world, I learnt an important statement: QUID QUID RECIPITUR, AR MODUM RECIPIENTI RECIPITUR – WHATEVER IS RECEIVED IS RECEIVED ACCORDING TO THE MODE OF THE RECIPIENT. So, since God is Spirit but we are material, He chose to assume our nature in order for us to fully understand His nature. Hence, THE WORD BECAME FLESH, AND DWELT AMONG US.
Now, at His incarnation, other material beings played active roles in manifesting God’s Glory – ANGELS, STAR, SHEEP, DONKEYS, DOVES, MARY, JOSEPH, SHEPHERDS, WISE MEN, ETC. So, it suffices to imagine the roles of each creature in the salvation of humanity. Thus, they point to God and not themselves unlike those false prophets who POINT TO THEMSELVES: COME TO ME… LAST STOP…SHARP…
Doctors, the True Bronze SERPENTS:
The symbol of medical practitioners is serpents coiled on a rod. Does it impose fear and anxiety in the midst of COVID-19? No, recall the benefits of snakes above and the bronze serpent in the first reading and TRUST that God has placed them among us to HEAL us. Sirach puts it beautifully that there are times when healing depends on God but there are times also that man will consult the physician for healing. He too will consult God for guidance.
Let us pray hard for our medical team but may government and RELIGIOUS bodies work hard to provide the necessary PPEs and other incentives to encourage our medical practitioners to save lives.
May I COMMEND THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC SECRETARIAT FOR THEIR WILLINGNESS TO MOBILIZE MEDICAL EQUIPMENTS AND OTHER INCENTIVES FOR OUR HOSPITALS AND CLINICS. HOWEVER, MAY I HUMBLY APPEAL THAT WE EXTEND SUPPORT TO OTHER DEPRIVED HEALTH POSTS AS WELL. LET US NOTE THAT CATHOLICS MAY END UP AT A GOVERNMENT HOSPITAL OR A PRIVATE HOSPITAL. THE MISSION IS BEYOND BOUNDARIES. ALL NEED TO BE SAVED. IN TRUTH COMES SALVATION, AND THE WORD CATHOLIC MEANS UNIVERSAL.
PEACE AND JOY!!!
Source: Rev. Fr. Ebenezer Hanson
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