MONDAY, 30TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR II

IN CHAINS: A HOMILY ON MONDAY, 30TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR II, BY FR. IFEANYICHUKWU HENRY NWOKORO, CSsR, IBADAN

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On the 25th of July, 1968, Pope Paul VI issued a prophetic encyclical in which he gave some prophetic warnings about the use of contraception. In my ministry as a priest, if there is any teaching of the church that annoy people the most, it is the church’s position on the use of contraception. Sometimes we think the church just enjoys creating unnecessary rules just to make our lives burdensome. The church is our mother, and like any good mother, she will always warn us about possible dangers, and like teenagers, we will always think we know better, until we get into trouble and guess who we are running back to.

Those who use contraception do so for reasons like, they want to prevent ‘unwanted’ pregnancy, they want to prevent diseases, they think it will help them to be faithful to the relationship. However, research has shown that since the advent of contraception, teenage pregnancy has increased, sexually transmitted diseases have also increased and so has unfaithfulness and promiscuity. Well, Pope Paul VI had already predicted that. In the first reading of today, we are told that those who engage in sexual immorality will not inherit the kingdom of God. Before the invention of contraception, people knew that if you had sex with someone, there are consequences, especially when you are not married to that person. Today we are told to just ‘protect’ ourselves, and see how protected we have become. Our opinions are never better than the teachings of the church. If someone can use contraception with one person, what stops them from using it with another person? If your spouse says he or she cannot live without sex, what do you think he/she will do when you are away or sick or indisposed? Also, no form of contraception offers a 100 per cent certainty, assuming one has the discipline to use them correctly.

One of the predictions of Humanae Vitae is that the availability of contraception will make people loose respect for one another, especially men for women. In spite of all the fights and propaganda for the rights of women, our generation is marked with great disrespect for women in a way that our ancestors, who were supposed to be primitive, could never have dreamt of. Humans have become animals. Like the woman in the gospel of today, whom Jesus described as been bound by the devil for 18 years, some women are even in chains for longer than that. Sometimes, they end up taking off one chain and putting on another. Apart from the chains of abuse in relationships, there is also the chains of addiction to sex, to pornography, to masturbation, etc. You will know you are addicted if you always think and say ‘I cant help it’ or ‘There is nothing I can do about it’. True you cant help it and there is nothing you can do about it. But I know someone who can set you free. His name is Jesus. Some people end up in abusive relationships because they are afraid of loosing the person. The only person we should be afraid of loosing is Jesus. The worse thing that can happen to us is, not to attain everlasting salvation at the end of our lives.

We are told in the first reading to love the way God loves. The responsorial psalm invites us to imitate God, as children of His that He loves. This means that we have to learn to love the way God loves. God does not love us by using us to satisfy His needs. He is committed to our ultimate good, which is the salvation of our souls. That is what true love is all about. It is to seek the ultimate good of the next person. Gone are the days when dating was strictly supervised by parent. Gone are the days when women took pride in keeping their virginity until marriage. Gone are the days when people dressed decently and used decent language in speaking. Gone are the days when to hold your boyfriend’s hand was a special moment of intimacy, when a simple letter from your beloved made your day, when the woman on her wedding day will still be shy of her husband. In the name of freedom, it is becoming more and more difficult to tell who is male from who is female.

A life of sin is a life in chains. Whenever we go for confession, let us imagine some chains which the devil has put around us broken and Jesus sets us free. Contraceptions cannot give us the freedom we seek. Only Jesus can set us free and when He sets us free, we will be free indeed.

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