Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her media presentation titled ‘ The Danger of the Single Story’ published by TEDtalks in 2009, made mention of ‘nkali’ – an Igbo verb that literary means ‘to be greater than another’ – as power. According to her the power structures of the world determine how certain stories are told. This power structure is seen in every human society, small groups and even among friends and mates. They are opposed to new ideas that will not only reveal the truth, but at the same time reduce their power and influence. Our dreams and aspirations are meet with opposition when they will make us rise above the group we belong to. This is the case with Jesus Christ in today’s gospel. The powers that be reminded him of his rather poor origin in order to discourage him from making them less relevant to the people. The gracious words that came from his lips are capable of initiating a change of heart among the people, and his fame is spreading far across the land.
What just happened in the gospel is capable of demoralizing Jesus Christ and his mission. For when we are in dare need of support and encouragement, the best and cheapest place to get it is from home – family, friends, schoolmates, colleagues etc. These are people who can easily feature in our dreams having been with us for sometime. We meet this situation all the time in life, especially when we have clear direction of thought and aspiration. It is possible that in the lives of successful people – artistes, writers, sportsmen and women, politicians, philanthropists – discouragement may have featured as they were on their way to the top. The Nigerian music artist, Timaya, made his part of his music.
In the first reading, we notice that God comes to our support when our mandate is from him. God made Jeremiah to understand that he was chosen for his mission and approved by Him, as such no authority can subdue his mission. Change is constant in life. We are progressive creatures of God. We are moving to an end in God. Thus the vision of our goal is made clear as we move closer to God in relationship. Inner conversion is a constant factor in the life of a Christian. Conversion leads to change in life style and vision. We should never be discouraged when friends and relations make this change impossible for us. Like Jeremiah, we are reminded that God will make us into a ‘fortified city and a pillar of iron’ in order to withstand opposition and discouragement.
Fr. Anthony Ekpunobi, C.M.