Christianity without Sacrifice is Satanic.
The title of today’s homily sounds rather shocking but that is probably how Jesus’ reproach to Peter must have sounded to the ears of the disciples in today’s Gospel passage. Just last Sunday, we read of how the same Peter was appointed as the first Pope only for things to turn around for him so quickly.
Can Christians become satanic? Is it possible for satan to possess a child of God or even a Pope at that? Can a Church become satanic? Or can a message proclaimed from the pulpit be satanic? The simple answer to these questions is: Yes! Oh Yes. But what has light got to do with darkness? You may wonder.
A Christian or even the most holy person on earth can become satanic when his or her thoughts are no longer aligned with the thoughts of God. “Get behind me, satan. You are a hindrance to me for you are not on the side of God but of men.” We become satanic when we preach a purely human message that fails to take cognizance of the cross or of suffering and responsibility.
Peter was called satan because he tried to persuade Jesus against the path of suffering, yet that is exactly what the Gospel of prosperity seeks to do; to tell people how they can attain glory without sacrifice, without pain and without having to carry any cross.
No wonder, today we have very lazy Christians who will not work or sweat but believe that by attending crusades and all nights and by sowing fat seeds, God will send down miracle jobs, miracle wealth and miracle everything from heaven. We have students who will not attend lectures or even read their books but are expecting all A’s in their exams because of some magic pen blessed by the man of God for them.
And when the expected miracle does not happen, the blame is cast on witches and wizards; that is, members of one’s own family such as our aged parents or those we are not in talking terms with as if to say witches and wizards are now more powerful than God. Today Christians fear satan more than they fear God. That is why we can commit sin freely and confidently in total disregard for God.
This Gospel of prosperity has really divided many families and set people on the impossible mission of killing, shooting and shouting for nothing over imaginary witches and wizards. Am I saying witches and wizards don’t exist? No! But who are the real witches and wizards? When I fail to control my sexual appetite and a girl gets pregnant out of wedlock only for me to abort the child, thereby killing an innocent baby, is that not witchcraft? What is the difference killing an innocent baby and drinking its blood in the coven? What is the difference between preventing a person from living right from the womb and tying down a person’s destiny?
When I steal public funds because I am in a position of power, is that not witchcraft? Am I not a wizard when truth cannot proceed from my lips anymore in the name of business? When for instance, I sell fake tires (or fake spare parts), only for my customers to buy and get accident on the road, am I not the complete witch? We go to church to shout “die, die, die” when we ourselves are the cause of our own predicaments. Every day, “die, die die”, is it the case that they resurrect each morning?
The Gospel of prosperity or better put, the Gospel of satan; the feel-good Gospel, the Gospel of abundance; positions, power and limitless pleasure at the expense of Sacrifice has only succeeded in making our country the most corrupt in the world. Immorality is at its height among Christians in our society today because we have exchanged truth, conversion and holiness for the satanic Gospel.
For instance, St. Paul’s message in our second reading today is not one you hear often; it is not a crowd moving message and definitely not a message you hear proclaimed on the many “Come-and-Grab-Your-Miracle-Crusades.” St. Paul tells us, “I appeal to you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”
Today, prosperity preachers (satanic preachers) twist this massage proclaiming that it is not what you wear on your body or what you do with your body that matters but the size of your offertory, the size of your tithes and seeds as if to say the worship of God is now based on your pocket. Jesus today gives us the criteria for following him:
“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. … For what shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life.” Instead of self-denial, we preach self-indulgence, instead of telling people to make sacrifices, we teach them how to live in abundance; how to gain the whole world as part of the dividends of being Christians.
You see, prosperity preaching turns the message upside down, it is satan’s way of infiltrating our churches and turning our minds away from God to the worship of money, self, lust and worldliness. We sing: “me I no go suffer, I no go beg for bread, god of miracle, na my papa eh, god of miracle, na my papa eh.” This song is a pure lie! If you ever hear anybody sing it again, say to the person: “Get behind me satan!”
If it is really God we worship, then, we must be prepared to embrace suffering and sacrifice, we must be prepared to carry our cross, like Jeremiah who laments in our first reading today, there would be moments of lamentation, moments of persecution. The Christian life is not bread and butter. It is hard work. It is self-discipline. It is being able to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, it is living in the Spirit rather than in the flesh, it is refusal to conform to the world’s standards. It is living a holy life. It is letting go of the pleasures and riches of this world in other to attain true riches in heaven.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may the truth of your word guide my life. Amen.
*Happy Sunday. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year A. Bible Study: Jeremiah 20:7-9, Romans 12:1-2