If you are among Christians who curse their enemies or pray “Back to Sender,” then you are not a good Christian; you are a paganised Christian.
Very Rev. Msgr. Kevin Chukwuemeka Akagha, Parish Priest, St. Mark Catholic Church New Owerri said “Back to sender” is a revengeful prayer and a display of unforgiveness.
“As human beings, we find it difficult to pray for our enemies. For example, assuming you found out who killed your parents, would you want them dead or repent and make heaven? Supposing Boko Haram terrorists and herdsmen storm your community, kill your parents, relations and set your house ablaze, yet the gospel enjoins you not to retaliate but to pray for their conversion.”
He noted that the preaching on praying for your enemies may appear very difficult but not impossible because if it were impossible Christ would not have preached it.
He mentioned how Jesus Christ forgave those who crucified him, saying, “Lord forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Similarly, St. Stephen in imitation of Christ’s forgiveness also prayed for those who stoned him to death, asking God not to hold the sin against them.
“So, back to sender is a paganised Christianity, not real Christianity,” he said, adding that the new commandment is that of forgiveness.
Reflecting on the Readings, Msgr. Akagha narrated how David spared the life of his arch enemy – Saul, even when the Lord had delivered Saul into his hands by making a deep sleep fall upon him (Saul) and his soldiers.
He said that Saul’s anger against David was as a result of envy because Saul did not like David’s soaring popularity following his killing of Israel’s tormentor-in-chief, Goliath leading to the song: “Saul kills by the thousand, David by the ten thousand.” He said that envy killed Saul and advised Christians not to be envious of other peoples achievements.
Msgr. Akagha also told the story of Marvin Gaye, an American singer and song writer, known for his soulful and socially conscious music.
“Marvin Gaye loved Christ but he couldn’t accept Christ’s teaching on forgiveness because of the enmity between him and his father, who raised him in a most cruel manner. So, Marvin vowed not to forgive him as advised by a Catholic priest.”
It was this long standing enmity and lack of forgiveness that consumed both Marvin Gaye and his father.
On April 1, 1984, Marvin was shot dead by his father at their house in the West Adams district of Los Angeles.
Quoting Lk. 6:27-38, Msgr. Akagha said: “I say to you that hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you…”