First Reading: Lev 25:1. 8-17; Psalm: 67 R. v. 4; Gospel: Mt 14:1-12
THE VOICE OF REASON
BY FR VALENTINE NNAMDI EGBUONU, MSP
In Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things fall Apart”, the protagonist Okonkwo was afraid to be called a weakling like his father Unoka. When the village oracle decreed that Ikemefuna the slave boy kept in his charge was to be killed; an old man Ezeudu warned Okonkwo sternly: “That boy calls you father. Do not bear a hand in his death.” Okonkwo rejected this voice of reason in an attempt to show he was fearless unlike his father. When Ikemefuna ran towards him for safety, Okonkwo gave him the last blow of the machete that dropped him dead. Ikemefuna’s death would go on to haunt him for a lifetime.
The personality of King Herod is somewhat similar to that of Okonkwo. King Herod was a man guided by passion and pride. While his sensual passion misled him to covet his brother’s wife, pride shut his ears from listening to the voice of reason coming from John the Baptist who warned him of the wrongness of his action. Deep within, Herod was troubled about John’s message but was also scared to be seen as a weak king. For this reason, he had John imprisoned. His unbridled emotions also misled him to make a foolish promise to Herodias’ daughter. And again, for the fear of being called weak if he failed to keep his promise, he ignored the voice of reason and beheaded John. This haunted him for a lifetime that on hearing of Jesus, he feared John had come back to life.
The drive for self aggrandizement can be so powerful to defy the voice of reason if we failed to tame it. Also, the human passion is like a burning fire. But we can tame it through reflective listening; that moment of pausing for a while to pay attention to the choices we are about to make so as to avoid the regrets of tomorrow. There are some choices we make in life today not because we really wanted to make them but because we wanted to save our image and pride. Due to this reason many have ignored the wrongness of an action just to cover up their mistakes. But the truth remains that the wrong choices we make today will definitely haunt us tomorrow. Some mistakes could have been avoided if we had listened to the voice of reason. When reason speaks to us, we should learn to listen
PRAYER FOR THE DAY
Lord Jesus, in our moments of decision making, enlighten our minds to choose what is just and right. Amen.