The reoccurring cases of the abuse of minors have been one of the greatest evils befalling our Church and society in our epoch. Sadly, this horrendous and evil act has been seen as a moral failure by church leaders, followed with consequent feelings of grief, sadness, betrayal, anger, and even disappointments on the part of the victims and sympathizers. In his closing remarks of the Vatican summit for the protection of minors, the Holy Father, Pope Francis writes: “in these painful cases, I see the hand of evil that does not spare even the innocence of the little ones. And this leads me to think of the example of Herod who, driven by fear of losing his power, ordered the slaughter of all the children of Bethlehem.” Above all, the Supreme Pontiff committed the church to do everything possible to eradicate it from within the church itself and from society as a whole. Thus, it is pertinent to note that this issue also goes to the heart of the Church’s Doctrine. Little children are innocent and precious in the eyes of God.
Our Lord Jesus Christ was also concerned with this scandal at his time. In the Gospel of today (Mark 9:41-50), we hear Christ succinctly, “…but anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck…”. Jesus Christ experienced some of His most tender moments with children and reserved His strongest language for those who abuse them.
To the category of people who scandalize and abuse the little ones, the First Reading (Ecclesiasticus 5:1-10 ) admonishes: “Do not be led by your appetites and energy to follow the passions of your heart. And do not say, ‘Who has authority over me? For the Lord will certainly be avenged on you’” Most times, it becomes apparent that those who are suffering from disorder and addictions hardly admit that they are in that state. They think they can handle the problem on their own, and become overconfident in their evil acts. Unfortunately, over-confidence is the downfall of man because it is the product of pride. As a result, they will fall into sin and commit offences. Worst still, in perpetrating their crimes, they try to console themselves that God is always merciful and forgiving. The holy sage in today’s first reading warns such people for thinking that way; and says that: “with God are both mercy and wrath, and his wage bears heavy on sinners.”
Dear friends in Christ, it is time for sincere repentance and conversion. It is time to evaluate ourselves and consider the many times we have misled others through our conducts and actions, resulting in scandals. It is time to turn to the Lord for assistance by walking in the way of the Lord, in truth and love, and trust Him daily for His graces; just as the Psalmist of today (Psalm 1:1-4,6) puts it: “happy the man who has placed his trust in the Lord. Happy indeed is the man who follows not the counsel of the wicked; nor lingers in the way of sinners nor sits in the company of scorners, but whose delight is the law of the Lord and who ponders his law day and night.
©Rev. Fr. Chinaka J. Mbaeri, OSJ