Independence Arch - Accra, Ghana
Independence Arch – Accra, Ghana

Theme: Thanksgiving for Ghana’s Independence
3rd Sunday of Lent

This year’s Thanksgiving Day for Ghana’s 55th Independence Anniversary coincides with 3rd SUNDAY OF LENT. I find today’s gospel passage (John 2:13-25) very appropriate for the celebration of our Anniversary.

The gospel reading says Jesus went to Jerusalem just before the Jewish Passover feast. The Passover feast marked the liberation from slavery of the ancestors of the Jews, or their exodus from Egypt to the Promised Land. So we could say it marked their independence as a people.

According to the gospel reading when Jesus entered the temple in Jerusalem around the time of the Passover [or, Independence] celebration, he realized it had been turned into a market. So he drove out those doing commerce, as well as the cattle and sheep, and scattered the money changers’ coins, etc.

When asked what sign he had to justify His action, Jesus said ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days, I will rebuild it.’ The gospel passage explains that Jesus was referring to his body [as the temple].

It is in this light that I want us to reflect on: a. ‘The Church as Temple of God’ and b. ‘Ghana as Temple (of the citizens)’.

For each of these temples, we shall look at its architecture/vision, its building materials, its sacrifice, its realization, and then I will add an exhortation.

A. THE CHURCH AS TEMPLE OF GOD

In 1 Corinthians 3:16, St. Paul asked the question: “DO YOU NOT KNOW THAT YOU ARE THE TEMPLE OF GOD AND THAT THE SPIRIT OF GOD DWELLS IN YOU?”

The Church, which St. Paul also referred to as the Body of Christ, is the Temple of God.

A.1 BEAUTY/ARCHITECTURE:

God established the Church, the body of Christ and temple of God, to be pure, holy, a community of faith and love, which is a sign and instrument of hope and salvation.

A.2 BUILDING MATERIALS:

Living stones of Christ and humans decorated with holiness, unity, justice, compassion, honesty, chastity, self-sacrifice, etc.

A.3 SACRIFICE:

The merits of the Sacrifice of Christ; the sacrifice of the apostles, martyrs and other saints; the sacrifice of all other Christians.

A.4 REALIZATION/FULFILLMENT:

Yes and No.

Yes=the sacrifices of Christ, the apostles, the martyrs and other saints.

No=the Sins of human members of the Church.

By our Sins we turn the temple of God into a marketplace. As Jesus noticed in Jerusalem 2000 years ago, we are buying and selling in the Church (eg. The gospel is commercialized; holy water and holy oils are being sold, as fake herbal medicine peddlers do);

As in the Jerusalem temple, exchange of money in going on in the church (eg. Cards for appointments with some pastors are obtained at a fee; certain blessings are given at a monetary price);

As in a marketplace, there is a lot of noise making in the church;

As in a marketplace, there are cheating and deception in the church (eg. False testimonies; pastors consulting local shrines, where they are required to perform strange rites to obtain miraculous powers.  Recently, a local newspaper reported the strange sight of a pastor sleeping with a sheep).

A.5 EXHORTATION:

Christians (leadership and ordinary membership), let us arise (like Nehemiah told his people) and rebuild the temple of God by:
– repenting from acts which turn the temple into a marketplace;
– making personal spiritual sacrifices; and
– using the materials of holiness, unity, justice, compassion, honesty, charity, etc.

B. GHANA AS TEMPLE:

We should see Ghana as the sacred temple of all citizens. Ghana, our motherland, should be cherished and held above one’s personal interest.

B.1 BEAUTY/ARCHITECTURE (VISION):

In the 3 verses of our national anthem we find aspects of the architectural beauty of Ghana (Vision of our founding fathers).

‘GOD…MAKE OUR NATION GREAT AND STRONG, BOLD TO DEFEND FOREVER THE CAUSE OF FREEDOM AND OF RIGHT.’(vr. 1)

‘TO BUILD TOGETHER A NATION STRONG IN UNITY’ (vr. 2)

‘BLACK STAR OF HOPE AND HONOUR, TO ALL WHO THIRST FOR LIBERTY.’ (vr.3)

I wish the ‘Black Star’ could be replaced with ‘African Star’ or ‘Star of Africa’; for it is difficult to see how a black can shine.

To the above vision extracted from the national anthem, I wish to add the following: that Ghana would be the ‘African Star’ of development and best management of our human and natural resources.

B.2 BUILDING MATERIALS:

Again form the national anthem can extract the building materials of the ‘temple of Ghana’:

The building materials include: True HUMILITY, fearless HONESTY, and Resistance to OPPRESSOR’S RULE (vr.1)

The others are GIFTS OF MIND (i.e. knowledge, intelligence, expertise, wisdom), STRENGTH OF ARM (i.e. hard work), and SERVICE (vr.2)

B.3 SACRIFICE:

Sacrifices of founders/fathers of our nation, and of Ghanaians of every generation subsequent to our independence.

B.4 FULFILMENT/ACHIEVEMENT:

Yes and No

Yes= our founder/fathers and some Ghanaians since independence have sacrificed their lives and made good contributions towards the development of Ghana.

No, because some Ghanaians are not making the necessary sacrifices, and are not using quality building materials; rather we have turned the ‘temple of Ghana’ into a marketplace.

How? For instance, instead of building with the quality material of true HUMILITY, we see false humility and pride (e.g. some politicians exhibit false humility when seeking for votes, and after they have been elected they are hardly approachable to voters.)

Instead of fearless HONESTY, we see actions of LIES and CORRUPTION.

Instead of using intelligence and knowledge to develop Ghana, some use the gift of the mind to embezzle state funds.

Instead of HARD WORK, a lot of workers exhibit laziness at their workplaces or offices.

Instead of service to our motherland, many play the “stomach-direction” game.

Instead of resisting OPPRESSORS’S RULE (eg. Strangling loan/grant conditions, imposition of foreign culture, bad trade regulation), we either feel helpless or inferior, or we are only interested in the KICK-BACKS.

And instead of self-sacrifice, many Ghanaians are sacrificing the lives, jobs, and talents of others for their personal gains.

B.5 EXHORTATION:

Beloved Ghanaians (leadership and ordinary citizens), ‘chobouee…ee’ let us arise (like Nehemiah and his people) and rebuild Ghana by:
– repenting of acts which turn Ghana into a corrupt  [kalabule] marketplace;
– making personal sacrifices;
– using the materials of true HUMILITY, fearless honesty, resistance to oppressor’s rule, our gifts of minds and strength of arm and selfless service.

CONCLUSION

May Ghana @ 60 be a united prosperous nation, the true shining STAR of hope and Honour for AFRICA.  Amen.

By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis

Fr. John Louis

Fr. John Louis

Very Rev. Fr. John Kobina Louis is a priest of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana.

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Catholic Homilies and Sermons for the liturgical year by Rev. Fr. Dr. John Kobina Louis of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana.

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