• Do not lose hope
St. Theresa of Avila, was a woman of faith and a model for Christian women; a model who is herself modeled on our mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her life story is that of a nun, a Carmelite nun that God used to reform her Religious Order. She faced a lot of oppositions but her personal relationship with Christ built upon a strong faith made her to succeed. She was a friend of God in an extraordinary way that she had mystical experiences that revealed how close she was to Jesus in her life. However, even though she faced challenges, she did so with a genuine sense of humour. One of the most popular stories that show her relationship with Christ, a relationship that was so personal and humorous is that of when she was going on a journey riding a horse.
As she tried to cross a river, the horse threw her and she landed in the water, soaked to the skin. Then she looked up to heaven and said to God, If this is how you treat your friends, no wonder you have so few of them. Can you imagine her talking to God like that? But that was the level of faith and close relationship that she had with God, perfect example of what we should aspire to; a friendship based on complete trust and surrender to God in all circumstances of our lives. We heard how it was faith and complete surrender to God that made Abraham into a friend of God. You remember how in Genesis 22 God asked him to offer his son as a sacrifice to Him and he was ready to do so simply because God asked him to do it. He was ready to sacrifice his only son because he knew that God never does evil. If God ever permits what looks, feels and tastes like evil to our human senses, Abraham knew that it will end up good for those who love and believe in God’s goodness.
However, we know from the story that Abraham did not have to go through with offering his son in sacrifice because God provided him with an alternative, the ram that was caught by its horn in the bush. So St. Paul says to us, it was not the act of offering his son that makes him justified before God or made him a friend of God; it was not as if God was paying him back for sacrificing his son that he became Abraham’s friend but because of the faith that he had, the faith that made him ready to do whatever God asked of him. His faith and complete surrender, not his act of sacrificing his son that made him God’s friend. Dear sisters and brothers, God wishes to reiterate that with faith in him, we can have a close relationship with him and be His friend like Abraham and St. Theresa of Avila.
He assures us that He has our back no matter what. He says to us that we should consider how small the sparrow and how it is that God cares so much that none of them falls to the ground without God’s knowledge. Even the hairs on our heads are numbered. Some have more hair than others, some hardly have any hairs on their heads. No matter how many or how few the hairs on our heads are, God knows the number. This is just to say that for those who believe in Him and are going through challenges, never come to the point where you are tempted to believe that God does not care or has abandoned you. Never lose hope or feel lost. The situation in our country and our Church today may make people to wonder: where is God, especially when bad things happen to good people. In all of these, Jesus says: I have your back; the hairs on your head are numbered, do not lose hope.
The message of God for us is a message of encouragement so that we do not lose hope and descend into despondency. However, as the saying goes: heaven helps those who help themselves. What must we do even as we heed the message of hope that God is offering us? We must never give up on prayers because God can do much more than we ever dare to ask. We must pray, especially the holy rosary. It is the weapon that brought about the victory at Lepanto, it is the weapon of warfare that has attracted the intervention of God in critical moments of history by the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Let us continue to pray the Prayer for Nigeria in Distress and never be tired. Let us pray so that those who rule over our land may do the right thing to bring about good governance.
• Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins, Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos.