Daniel 5:1-6,13-14, 16-17,23-28; Daniel 3; Luke 21:12-19
Fr. Evaristus Okeke
Holy things/persons must be treated Holy
Yesterday we saw how King Nebuchadnezzar, after conquering Jerusalem, attempted to force it to reject the worship of God and embrace the worship of the Babylonian gods. The people of Jerusalem were God’s own people. By subjecting them to such religious injustice, Kind Nebuchadnezzar was desecrating holy persons. Thanks to the Grace of God in Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah by which they were able to withstand and overcome such taboo.
In today’s first reading, King Belshazzar of Babylon became guilty of the sin of his Father, Nebuchadnezzar. He too desecrated what is holy. The vessels of gold and of silver which Nebuchadnezzar looted from the temple in Jerusalem was turned into mere cups for the feasting of King Belshazzar together with his lords, wives and concubines. Nebuchadnezzar abused holy persons, while Belshazzar abused holy things.
Most likely King Belshazzar most have heard or seen what the father did and the consequences that followed; yet, he refused to fret at what belongs to the living God. Now, the judgment of God has fallen harshly upon him and the city. This judgment is without the influence of man that is why Daniel refused the offer the king promised him if he succeeds in interpreting the writings on the wall.
Beloved, what is our attitude towards holy persons and things? It is true that the people of Jerusalem suffered captivity from the hands of the Babylonians because of their sins against God but that will not justify the desecration of what is holy. In the same vein, the numerous news we have heard about the misdeeds of some ministers of God does not constitute a reason to dishonour what God has honoured. God does not choose something or someone because it is perfect; consequently, he frowns at any ridicule mounted on his chosen on account of a weakness that he is well aware of. This is not to justify the misdeeds of God’s ministers but to warn that condemnation is not the solution.
Again, what is our attitude towards sacramentals? The greatest way we can abuse sacramentals is to treat them as though they were charms. The potency of sacramentals is not in the object itself or on the kind of priest/deacon that blessed it but on the faith of the user. An expensive rosary does not work better than a cheap one. A water blessed by a popular priest is not more efficacious that one blessed by a newly ordained priest. To assume otherwise is religious manipulation because it turns the heart of the user away from Faith.
See, sacramentals can never take the place of the sacraments themselves. Your holy water will more efficacious for you when you use them while in the state of grace. Do not ignore your standing with God and think that sacramentals will just bring you the desired grace from God. Holiness of the recipient is the primary goal of every sacrament and sacramental. Any attempt to replace this primary goal becomes an abuse. God Bless You!
Fr. Evaristus Okeke