IKPE MARA EZI OKWU: A HOMILY ON EASTER MONDAY
The president of Nigeria can be said to be having a date with corruption. I think he has used that word more than any other president in this country. He made it his priority to fight corruption. Right now, nobody knows if he is still fighting corruption or not. At least his level of success in that is questionable. It is hard to fight corruption when the corruption is not just the problem of few individuals, but a systemic problem. The very system itself is corrupt, and when something is corrupt from its very foundation, it is hard to eradicate corruption by fighting its external manifestations.
Both of our readings today speak of corruption from different angles. The first reading is a prophesy which implies that the body of Jesus cannot experience corruption. Indeed, it is not possible for Jesus to rot in the grave. It is not possible for His body to decay. This is because His soul is not corrupt. If His soul is not corrupt, then His body cannot experience corruption. The same thing applies to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was assumed into heaven. Because she is sinless, it is impossible for her body to experience decomposition. The Church also have some saints called the incorruptibles. These saints’ bodies have remained either partially or completely incorrupt since their death. When the body of St. Pio of Pietrelcina was exhumed, it was in such a perfect state, you would think he just died. Yes indeed, these saints’ souls were not corrupt and so their bodies remain incorrupt. This is a gift that God gives to some saints for their faithfulness. This does not mean anybody whose body decomposes is going to hell. There are many saints whose bodies decomposed. But the incorruptibles are encouragements to us, to keep our souls away from corruption.
In the gospel, we see how some men were willing to be bribed, so that they can testify that Jesus did not rise from the dead, but that His disciples came to steal His body. There is an Igbo saying that ‘Ikpe mara ezi okwu, aka azu dia‘. What this means is that whenever the truth is defeated, it is a sign that someone has been bribed or that there is some corruption somewhere. The death of Jesus is the greatest defeat of truth, where the most innocent man who ever lived is declared guilty and even a known criminal is set free. This is because of the corruption of Judas and other disciples, the corruption of Pilate and the other leaders, etc. Today, they continue in their corrupt ways to tell one more lie. Whenever the truth is defeated, it is a sign that someone somewhere is corrupt. We should avoid all forms of corruption, because if the soul is corrupt, it cannot rise with Christ. Even the body will experience corruption. But if the soul is free of corruption, it will not only rise with Christ. It will rise with a glorified body. God will preserve those who stay away from corruption. If the soul is preserved, the body will also be preserved.