Re-evaluating the place of Catholic Knights in the fight for a sane human society (Corruptio Optima Pessima)
To whom much is given, much is expected
As we have eschewed what our position in the church as knights represents, we turn to the question, what is expected of us as Christian knights? The general invitation given to every Christian is to participate in the work of evangelization from the moment of our initiation into the Christian fold. Evangelization here means; “first of all to bear witness, in a simple and direct way, to God as revealed by Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, to bear witness that in His Son God has loved the world — that in His incarnate Word he has given being to all things and has call men to eternal life”. In this connection Pope Paul Vl thus, believes that the Church “exists in order to evangelize.” Thus the greatest challenge of a true Christian man or woman and more especially a knight is allowing the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to resound in our minds as he ascended to the Father; “…you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem,…. and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
The parting words of the mass as recorded in the new rite, translates the Latin dismissal “ite missa est” in three different forms.
- Go forth, the Mass is ended
- Go to announce the Gospel of the Lord
- Go in peace, glorifying the Lord with your lives
In either of these cases, we see the fundamental call to mission on all those present at the mass. If this is the call made on all members present at the Eucharistic celebration, do we not think it demands more on us as knights of the ‘church? Placed as a soldier of Christ, a harbinger custodian of the good news, a Christian must feel challenged to the demands of translating the gospel into the secular affairs in his or her day to day life.
The fight against corruption: those who live in glass house should not throw stones
In this discussion, we must highlight the salt saying of the Sermon on the Mount in full to know the extent of our responsibility in keeping to the words of our Lord Jesus when he said: “You are the salt of the earth. But if salt has lost its taste, how can it be made salty again? It has become useless. It can only be thrown away and people will trample on it. You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden…. In the same way your light must shine before others, so that they may see the good you do and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:13-14, 16) Does this statement strike you in any way? Do you think you can effect a change with your position? Why then are you not doing it? The demand of this Biblical passage is dragged furthermore to the mud when we are involved in stirring wickedness and immorality in our area of work.
Our catechism teaches that scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized.” On the issue of scandal our Lord Jesus tells us ”whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it will be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” In this connection therefore, every knight should know that his maturity in the faith places him or her as a standard which can touch the lives of many. It becomes devastating if the life of the knight tend to give anything on the contrary.
Mending the gap between theory and praxis in the Christian life, our community and status
It is very important for the Catholic knights to brace up for action in their different areas of work and professions. It is disheartening that those who were supposed to be the major custodians of the faith tend to frighten even their fellow believers through their life style. We are called by Christ to do only one thing insofar as our status in the Church and society is concerned; that is to bear “his witness” (Acts 1: 8). We are not to be like the tripper, that loads sand only to offload and become empty before the day runs out. Our call is to be real salt and light to the humanity according to the instruction of Christ. When we fail in this duty, then we put a lot of question marks on our status as senior citizens of the Church. John Paul said that; “…the Church is an expert in humanity, and this leads her necessarily to extend her religious missions to the various fields in which men and women expend their efforts in search of the always relative happiness which is possible in this world, in line with their dignity as person.” It is the function of the knight to see that this is translated to everyday life.
In the issue of involvement of the Church in politics today, especially in Nigeria, we note that there are two opposing camps: those who believe that the Church should not have anything to do with secular politics. Those who hold this view work under the pretext of the wrong interpretation of “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt. 22:17-22). Another group feels that the Church is not doing enough. Mathew Hassan Kukah highlights the sentiments of the second group in the following manner:
They wonder why we are not like liberation theologians in Latin America or some of the priests who lived under communist rule, who went underground or joined the national armies of liberation and resistance and worked for the liberation of their people. They tell us about Cardinal Wyzynski and his protégé, his Holiness Pope John Paul II, and how they resisted and overthrew communism in Poland; of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and how he took on the demon of apartheid; of Helder Camara, the harmless Archbishop of Recife, who fought against the Americans and the structures of sin they erected in his native Brazil; of Camilo Torres who laid down his life fighting for the freedom of his people; of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jnr who preached non-violent resistance to the oppression of the Black people of America; and of Jean Bertand Aristide who found himself in the eye of the storm of his people’s freedom in Haiti. These are daily held before us as the heroes who rescued their people in moments of great need. They ask us: As Nigerian clergy with the same or more education, why not now, and why not you.
We suppose that it is in the context of this that Ezeogu maintained; “As far as the Nigerian politics is concerned, the Nigerian Catholic Church can be called a sleeping giant. It has not always played the leadership role and responsibility that she is supposed to and is capable of playing.” Many a time, she tries to shy away from active involvement in confronting the political environment thereby staying aloof from the immediate menace which the evil shrouded in the political system of Nigeria breeds. However, she cannot make much impact if the issue of collaboration and careful surveillance of the political scene are neglected.
Very Rev. Fr. Alex Okoro, Parish Priest, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church Emekuku delivered this lecture to the knights of St. Mulumba, Owerri Metropolitan Council recently.