BUILD IT STRONG: A HOMILY ON THE OPTIONAL MEMORAL OF ST. MARTIN DE PORRES, BY FR. IFEANYICHUKWU HENRY NWOKORO CSsR, IBADAN
We have three important relationships in our lives. The first is our relationship with God. The second is our relationship with others and the third is our relationship with ourselves. These three relationships can be compared to the three parts of a building. Our relationship with God can be compared to the roof of a building, while our relationship with others can be compared to the supper structure of a building and our relationship with ourselves can be compared to the foundation of the building. Therefore, we can begin from the foundation and work our way to the top.
Our gospel today speaks of the need to be humble, not to offer ourselves the highest position at meals but to humbly choose the lowest place. Here, Jesus teaches us the virtue of humility. This virtue should mark our relationship with ourselves and it should be the foundation of our building. Like we know, foundations are usually hidden, but without them, the building collapses. So also should our humility be hidden, even from ourselves. Also, if the foundation is not strong, whatever else is built on it collapses. Humility is so important that without it, all the good we do turns to evil. If you have a big tank full of water and a drop of petrol is dropped into it, the whole water is poisoned and nobody will say, it is only a little drop, so we can drink it. All the good we do for God and for others is like the tank of water. Pride is like the poison that can ruin it all. That is why humility must be the foundation of all our virtues. Without humility, all our virtues become vices.
In the first reading, St. Paul seem to be confused. He speaks of his love for God, which compels him to want to die and be with God for all eternity. Yet he speaks of his love for the people, which compels him to want to live and minister to them. Our relationship with others should be marked by love; a love that compels us to do good for them. St. Martin de Porres was so charitable that he was nicknamed Martin the charitable. Upon the foundation of humility should be the super structure of Charity. Each block of the building represent each person that we have loved and cared about. If every time we do good to someone, one building block is placed, how many storeys building do you think you have built so far? How many storeys do you intend to build?
The taller you want the building to be, then the stronger must the foundation be. The more charitable you are to others, the more humble you should become. If not, the whole charity will fall down on your head.
Then comes the roof of the building which protects the building from rain and storms. This is our relationship with God, nurtured through prayer. Following our Redemptorist tradition, the virtue of this month of November is prayer. This month is a month when we can evaluate our relationship with God, by evaluating our prayer life to see how strong it is. A building that has a strong foundation, strong super structure, but has either a weak roof or no roof at all is very vulnerable. So also is a christian who is humble, charitable and not prayerful. These three virtues we see in the life of St. Martin de Porres as well as in the life of all the saints. Nobody can become a saint without building these three relationships.
Pope Benedict XVI said “If heaven means being in Christ, then it also means co-being with all those who together form the one body of Christ.”.
I am Fr. Ifeanyichukwu Henry Nwokoro, CSsR. I am your fellow child of God and this is my way of sharing my daily reflections with you. Please feel free to leave a comment, suggestion or question. Let everything that lives and that breathes give praise to the Lord.
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