|Sunday, December 23, 2018|
ou may be wondering how I, a priest of the Holy Catholic Church, have become tired of God. If so, what can the lay people do? An elderly woman who cries during child delivery frightens young girls who are about to marry. If a medical doctor screams because of headache, what can the ordinary patients do? God forbid! It can never happen. That a dog bit a man is no news. But if a man bit a dog, it is news of the century. Strange things happen nowadays. There is nothing that the ear hears that would deafen it. Also the eyes cannot go blind because of what they see. Eneke the bird ate to its satisfaction and asked God to come and take its life. When eventually God wanted to do so, it pleaded, "Please God, do not mind me. It is only a foolish statement by someone who was overfed." Who is man to dare his Creator?
Where am I going? Last month in a particular town in Anambra State, a young man who was a frontline Christian ceased from going to church as he used to do. He fell into sudden apostasy by resorting to idol worship. In fact, he became the chief-priest of an abandoned idol in his village. He sewed an overall red clothe and adorned his face with fearful marks, with 999 written on his forehead. His family was surprised at his sudden negative outbursts. Every day, he pours libation at the idol altar as he gets up from bed. Sometimes he offers animal sacrifice to the god. In addition he carries the most dangerous masquerade abandoned by his forefathers. He goes about initiating young boys and girls into his cult.
One day, some concerned members of the church where he used to worship regularly since birth approached him to ascertain the reason behind his sudden apostasy. He welcomed them and offered them some kola nuts. Afterwards, one of them stood up and said, "Brother in Christ, we are here to ascertain why you left Christianity and resorted to idol worship. Are you out of your senses? Please think twice and retrace your steps." The young man now turned idol chief-priest cleared his throat and replied, "Be warned! I am no more your brother in that Christ. I have found a new life. I left your church because I am tired of God. That is simple and short. If you all do not leave my house now, I will sacrifice all of you to my god." He blew some white powder into the air which blindfolded some of his visitors. In unison they shouted, "Back to sender!" In a twinkle of an eye, he withdrew into his inner chamber. Surprisingly he came out brandishing a sharp big knife painted in red colour. Since life has no duplicate, the concerned church members ran for their dear lives. If a fowl pursues you early in the morning, kindly take to your heels because it might have developed some teeth at night. It is foolish to act like a mad man who said, "I will not say anything to the man who is following me with knife until I lose my head." Can a headless body talk?
On the Feast of Christ the King this year, after the solemn Eucharistic procession, I travelled to my hometown to roost like a fowl after the day's hectic activity. At our popular market place, I saw a huge number of youths (male and female) making merry. They were drinking from green bottles. Empty bottles were scattered here and there. Also different masquerades were going up and down with sticks. I marched on my car's break and cleared by the roadside. I asked a passerby what was happening. Excitedly he told me that those youths were celebrating Isigwu. This is an idol which was abandoned long ago, after the worshippers were converted to Christianity. But today our jobless youths have revitalized it. Hearing this, my tongue got stuck to my mouth. It seemed like a dream. I cleared my eyes to make sure I was not dreaming. It was evening time. Angrily, I attempted to run over one of the masquerades that blocked my way. He would have died a second time. Luckily, he ran away before my tyres could at reach him. If someone kills a masquerade, is he guilty of murder? Traditionally it is believed that masquerades are spirits of the dead. Can spirits die again?
I was very furious as I was driving into my compound. The question on my lips was how can our youths go back to idol worship in this jet age? Later I learnt that my town's youths are not alone. Most baptized boys and girls in various towns have abandoned God and resorted to idol worship. When I was at Awka, I fought against Imo Awka feast whereby most Christians, especially the youths, revere the deity annually. Both the people at home and in diaspora come home to join in the idol worship. At Abagana I preached against Ede Aro deity worship which takes place during Christmas period. The men, women and youths celebrate Christmas in low key but then celebrate the Ede Aro in grand way.
Today, almost all youths in various towns in Igboland and beyond have resorted to the worship of one deity or the other. What is happening? How can the Israelites go back to Egypt to be enslaved again after being rescued by the mighty power of God? There is no smoke without fire. Satan is a liar! It has been discovered that certain influential men in various towns are the sponsors of these jobless youths going back to idolatry. The sponsors are believed to be cultists who renew their commitments to their cult deity with youthful powers. How can our youths be blindfolded? Is idol worship an employment? After eating, drinking and masquerading, what comes next? It is regrettable that the children of the sponsors of the idol worship are either in Nigerian universities or studying abroad. Some of them are gainfully employed at home or abroad. Who is deceiving who?
How can a sane person be tired of his Creator? Who is more powerful: the Creator or the creature? The Holy Writ says, "Woe to him who quarrels with his Maker - one clay pot among many. Does the clay ask the potter, 'What are you making?' Does your work say, 'He has no hands?' Woe to him who says to his father, 'What have you begotten?' or to his mother, 'What have you brought forth?' (Isaiah 45: 9 - 10). Saint Paul adds, "But you - who do you think, a human being, to answer back to God? Something that was made, can it say to its maker: why did you make me this shape? A potter surely has the right over his clay to make out of the lump either a pot for special use or one for ordinary use" (Romans 9: 20 - 21).
During my childhood days, when television was a rare commodity, our parents entertained us with stories to teach us good morals. One of such stories has to do with pride or boasting. Thus, if the breadfruit boasts, a sharp wooden object will be used to break it into two. If the sharp wooden stick boasts, then termites will eat it up. If the termite boasts, then a fowl will swallow it. If the fowl boasts, the kite will carry it away. If the kite boasts, then the gun will silence it. If the gun boasts, the blacksmith will dissolve it into ashes. If the blacksmith boasts, then God will take his life. The story ends here because God has no challenger. Who are you or I to challenge God?
In the Old Testament we read the story of Jacob wrestling with God in his dream from night to morning. To show his superiority, God struck Jacob a blow on the hip socket. Instantly, Jacob's hip (waist) was dislocated. Could this be the origin of waist pain or dislocation? He was writhing in pains as God was about to depart. Jacob limping towards God pleaded, "I will never let you go unless you bless me" (Gen. 32:26). No one can challenge God and go free. 'Agaracha' must come back. If you have challenged God in any way in your life, kindly fall on your knees and ask for God's mercy and blessings. A father or a mother beats a child with the right hand and consoles him with the left hand.
The Europeans risked their lives in evangelizing Nigeria, especially the Igboland. Some of them died as a result of shipwreck. Some died from mosquito bites. They suffered from language barrier, culture, diet, and weather problems. Despite all these difficulties, they succeeded in planting the seed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our land. Many of our fathers, mothers and youths were converted from idolatry to Christianity. How can our youths who are the leaders of tomorrow go back to idolatry? Something drastic must be done to save Christianity from going into extinction. All hands must be on deck. The priests, pastors, men and women of God in each town must go to back to the drawing board. We must concentrate more on the saving of souls than on the building of projects. If we do not wake up, then the magnificent churches, chapels, grottos, and places of worship we struggle to build will be turned into cults of idols in the near future.
The parents on their own part must never allow their houses to collapse. Those who are still bearing children should pray seriously before conception, so that the fruits of their wombs would be useful to God, to the family and to the society. A useless child is a nuisance to God, to the family and to the society at large. Since the family is the first school a child attends, parents should endeavour to inculcate good morals into their children from infancy to youthful age. Irresponsibly parenthood is the cause of some of the inordinate behaviors of the youths today. Adolescent age must be controlled by the parents. It is a time of great temptation. It needs parental guidance, prayers and self control by the person himself. It is from adolescent age that the person grows into youthful age. Youthful age is a challenging time. One needs the fear of God as a youth to grow into a mature and useful adult. A youth who resorts to idol worship has a bad future.
An idle mind is a devil's workshop. It is idleness that propels most of our youths to seek refuge in idol shrines nowadays. Everybody must not get white-collar job. A hardworking youth can be self employed by learning any juicy handcraft. It is better to teach someone how to fish than giving fish to him or her frequently. Those well-to-do persons who sponsor our youths into idol worship should engage them in gainful employment or sponsor them into higher schools of learning. School dropouts are public nuisance. Idol worship is a taboo.