“YHWH” (יהוה.) – THE DIVINE RESPONSE TO THE CURRENT SOCIO-POLITICAL HARDSHIPS IN NIGERIA
First Reading: Exodus 3:13-20
Responsorial Psalm: Ps. 104(105):1,5,8-9,24-27
Gospel Reading: Matthew 11:28-30
In the annals of human history, the cries of the oppressed seeking liberation have resounded through time, yearning for a deliverer who will lead them to a promised land of rest and freedom. Today’s readings offer a profound promise of hope as we encounter Jesus Christ who comes as the ultimate deliverer to shatter the chains of oppression. Just as God revealed Himself as YHWH in the midst of the oppression faced by the Hebrews in Egypt to demonstrate His presence and guidance in the lives of His people as their Protector, Deliverer, and Guide, etc., so also, amidst the current socio-political hardships in Nigeria and other countries, the revelation of God’s name YHWH becomes significant. It signifies His compassion, presence, and guidance in the lives of His people, serving as the Protector, Deliverer, and Guide for those who put their trust in Him.
In the episode of the burning bush as depicted in the First Reading (Exodus 3:13-20), Moses encounters God on the sacred ground of Horeb. God reveals Himself as “I AM WHO I AM” (YHWH) – the eternal and faithful God. The enslaved Israelites’ cry for liberation is heard, and God promises to deliver them from Egyptian oppression. YHWH’s revelation signifies His compassion for the suffering of His people and His role as the ultimate Protector and Deliverer. Through Moses, God sets in motion a divine plan to lead His people to a land of rest and freedom. In YHWH’s name, the hope of liberation is kindled, assuring us that God is present in the midst of suffering, guiding His people toward a better future.
The psalmist (Ps 104(105):1,5,8-9,24-27) sings a hymn of praise, recounting God’s faithfulness throughout salvation history. The covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob remains steadfast amidst trials faced by the people. In the face of oppression, God’s presence endures, serving as a guide and protector for His chosen ones. The psalm reflects YHWH’s role as the constant Guide and Deliverer, leading His people through the darkest moments of suffering. Amidst the socio-political hardships in Nigeria, the psalm reminds us that God’s compassion and guidance remain available to those who trust in Him.
Interestingly, the community of St. Matthew comprehends Christ as the New and greater Moses, which stems from various similarities and connections between the life and mission of Jesus in the New Testament and the role of Moses in the Old Testament. Thus, in today’s Gospel Reading (Matthew 11:28-30), Jesus (the God-man) reveals Himself as the ultimate deliverer who comes to bring liberation to all who are burdened and oppressed. He extends a tender invitation, saying, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” In this proclamation, the cry for liberation finds its answer in the person of Jesus Christ. He takes on the yoke of human suffering, bearing the weight of our sins on the cross, and triumphantly rising to offer the promise of eternal rest and freedom. In Jesus, the cries of the oppressed find solace, and the hope of a new dawn is realized. In other words, Jesus exemplifies YHWH’s compassion and guidance, offering solace to the oppressed and a hope of a new dawn. He calls us to find refuge in Him, to stand united in pursuing justice for the oppressed, and to be agents of change and liberation for those in need.
Unfortunately, under the current administration in Nigeria, the echoes of cries for liberation continue to reverberate in the hearts of those suffering under the yoke of injustice, poverty, corruption, and strife. The constant inflation of goods and services, particularly the hike in fuel prices, the alarming rate of insecurity, amidst other hardships in the country, have made many persons to cry aloud to God. It is in these moments of darkness that the message of Jesus as the ultimate liberator shines brightest. Therefore, in the midst of current socio-political hardships, the revelation of God’s name YHWH becomes a source of hope and consolation. This divine revelation (Scripture tells us) reaches its culmination in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. Little wonder, the call to “Come to me” rings out, inviting all who labour under the weight of oppression to find solace in the arms of Christ. In Him, we see a God-man who knows the pain of human suffering intimately and promises a rest that transcends the limitations of this world. As we lift our eyes to Jesus in the Eucharist, we are inspired to embrace His teachings of love, justice, and compassion, becoming agents of change and liberation for those in need.
Dear friends in Christ, in the midst of the socio-political storms, let us seek refuge in Jesus, who walks with us in our trials, offering rest to our weary souls. Let us stand united in the pursuit of justice, advocating for the oppressed and marginalized, and working towards a world where the cry for liberation is heard, and the promised land of rest and freedom becomes a reality for all. May we be vessels of hope and liberation, inspired by the “New Moses,” who brings light into the darkest corners of the human experience and leads us toward the ultimate promised land of God’s eternal rest and freedom.
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© Fr. Chinaka Justin Mbaeri, OSJ
Paroquia Nossa Senhora de Loreto, Vila Medeiros, São Paulo, Brazil
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