By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
A Nimo, Awka Diocesan-born Catholic deacon, Rev JohnMark Ifedilichukwu Okafor, has described peace as the guideline for success, both in the Christian mission and in the lives of people of God.
Rev Okafor, who stated this in his homily of the Holy Mass led by Rev Fr Dr Basil Ucheonye, at St Joseph’s Parish (UNIZIK Temporary Site), Awka, Awka South L.G.A, Anambra State, on July 7, 2019, noted that peace was synonymous with Christianity.
The deacon described the readings of the Sunday as very apt as it reflected the mission of the seminarians who kicked off their apostolic works on mission in the parishes on that Sunday as well as the mission of the entire people of God. He noted that the readings were a call on all to reflect on their mission on earth, as Christians and new people of God.
Rev Okafor noted that peace which was a very important guideline Jesus Christ gave to his people for a successful mission appeared to have eluded the people of God. He said that Christ came to restore the said peace, and has sent his people on a mission to restore peace on earth, the same way he sent his disciples.
The deacon observed that part of the reasons for which peace has eluded many people was because they carried bags which he said signified greed, in the course of their mission on earth.
He described as greed and threat to peace, the rate at which people amass wealth for their children, instead of to give them good education so as to enable them fend for themselves and be better persons in future.
Rev Okafor, who further based his reflections on the gospel of the Sunday on the mission of the 70 disciples said, ‘Sandals means comfort. Jesus Christ instructed his disciples not to go with sandals so as to experience discomfort, and to salute no one on the road so as to be determined to give the message of the gospel, without looking at faces.
He continued, ‘The same is expected of the people of God, who are on mission on earth to give up excess pleasure so as to experience discomfort, and give up worldly gains for the sake of peace. Do not fight even if your message was rejected. Do not fight or kill for the sake of peace. It is not wisdom to put your life on a thing. Do not fight and quarrel over lands, leave it for the sake of peace; you will still acquire another land.
The deacon added, ‘Sycophancy and sycophants have negatively affected peace in society. People are no longer loyal, instead they remained sycophants, even as far as condemning others so as to continue to rise.
He kicked against prosperity gospel, saying that God is love, and God loved his people from onset. The homilist maintained that it was not when someone was given a message of wellness in the name of prosperity gospel that he was loved by God. According to him, ‘Prosperity gospel takes away peace and love from the people of God, but instead, projects greed’.