By Fr George Adimike
Aware that many Christian movements and ecclesial bodies refer to their leaders as General Overseers, Nigerians fondly call them Daddy GO or Mummy GO, which are shorthand for Daddy General Overseer and Mummy General Overseer. These appellations for the leaders of these Christian denominations and ecclesial movements offer a window into the filial disposition of their members.
Due to the substance or the style of their ministries, they have won enormous respect from their congregations. This adulation, mainly freely given and sometimes fear-induced, has grown to the extent that these ministers possess larger-than-life influence over their congregations.
A close observation reveals that the respect, devotion and honour they command have moved from the standard ‘pastor-dulia’ ordinarily accorded to ministers of the gospel and sacraments to ‘Daddy-GO-latry’ (worship of daddy GO).
Though the explicit worship of Daddy GO is rare, one cannot say the same about their implicit, often inadvertent worship akin to the worship given to God. Worship is an intense feeling of devotion, passion and obedience that rules a person’s will and governs their intellect. The members of these ecclesial movements or Christian ministries arguably devote so much attention to these men and women that, in relation to them, their brains are deactivated.
Ironically, the same set of Christians who almost literally worship the Daddy GOs, spreading their messages, displaying their photos and videos and positively responding to their demands, are the same Christians who ignore the mother of the Lord and treat her with aversion and disrespect.
This set of Christians treats with similar ignominy and hatred Catholics, the Orthodox, Orientals, Anglicans and mainline protestant families that honour the Mother Mary. It is, therefore, baffling how one can profess faith in our Lord, Jesus Christ, and nurse a great enmity against his loving mother, yet treat Christ’s ministers with so much respect for the reason of their association with him. In their aversion for the Mother of the Lord, they transfer the same antipathy to those who celebrate their love for Christ through his mother.
Truth be told, hypocrisy is only but a light word for such an attitude. Since these persons are bible-believing, it is expected that they would have read about the paramount importance of the love of parents in the bible. Yet, absurdly, these supposed disciples of Christ celebrate their inheritance in Christ, the spiritual patrimony of belonging to him by grace through faith, but exclude his mother from the treasures they inherited from him.
According to John, Mother Mary was Jesus’ last testament and gift to his disciples. After this gift, he gave himself in the Spirit by gifting the Spirit. It is such that the last things Jesus offered on the cross were as follows: forgiveness and salvation (‘Father, forgive them’, and ‘today, you will be with me in paradise’); his mother (‘son, behold your mother’); his life that poured out as blood and water (the conception of the Church as the effect of the Divine Mercy); and, finally, his Spirit.
The gift of the Spirit crowns the whole gift he made on the Cross, namely his mercy that inspired him to offer his mother as the concrete embodiment of grace for our salvation and his Spirit as the uncreated grace and agent of the constitution of the Church and her sanctification until the Parousia.
These gifts are so important that the fundamental elements in the constitution of the Kingdom of God, here expressed as the ecclesia of God, the Church catholic, form the last testaments.
It negates reason and righteousness to claim to be a friend of Christ by virtue of the passion of one’s forgetfulness of or disregard for his mother. It pleased God to include Mary in His honour, such that any honour done to Mary is in direct reception by God and participates intimately in His worship. For that, she declared that all generations would acknowledge and appreciate her greatness because of God’s goodness to her.
This piece is an invitation to all called by Christ to evaluate their worship of God and the honour given to creatures. In so doing, they need to interrogate the mystery of Mary and invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate their minds and warm their hearts to lead them to the proper regard for the Mother of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Because fellowship with God is ceaseless, transforming from one level of glory to another, its attendant relationships are never-ending. As such, the motherhood of Mary continues from the earthly fellowship to the new fellowship in heaven.
Her motherhood’s modality and expression change, but its reality remains. Its quality can change; it can go south and depreciate or it grows and deepens. It continues. This human reality affects our biographies in a significant way since we live and thrive in we-existence of the human family. Following the same rubric, the relationship among Church members does not end with the passing on of one Daddy GO.
For instance, the late Archbishop Idahosa is being remembered by all his spiritual sons/daughters. The love is renewed on his anniversary. It keeps deepening the relationship with the dead, the transformed. In the other fellowship, the motherhood of Mary persists; it endures. It ends with an ellipsis.
Mary maintained her intimate relationship with her son, Jesus Christ, and his Church. Being a holy mother of a divine son did not remove her maternal instinct and neither did it disconnect her from the human reality. Like every mother, she inserted herself in the affairs of her son with profound emotion, passion, intellect and interest.
She was completely involved in the salvific mystery of her son with an unalloyed devotion and singleness of purpose, and endured loud cries, emotional heartbreaks and silent screams. In all these, she remained a sweet mother, caring for the disciples of her son for all ages, including all the Daddy GOs, Mummy GOs and their members. While we reject any worship to Mary, it is our Christian obligation to honour the mother of the Lord.
*Fr George Adimike*