A Catholic priest, Rev. Fr. James Ogbeiwe, has urged Christians not to be quick in condemning others but to cultivate the habit of forgiveness just as God is slow to anger towards sinners.
Fr. Ogbeiwe spoke in a homily during the Holy Mass at St. Francis Catholic Chaplaincy, University of Benin, Ekehuan Campus, on Sunday, 23 July 2023.
Basing his homily on the readings from the book of Wisdom 12:13, 16-19 and the gospel of Matthew 13:24-43, the priest explained God’s attitude towards sinners and the benefit of forgiveness.
On the message behind the first reading from the book of Wisdom, Fr. Ogbeiwe, who is the parish priest of Blessed Tansi Catholic Church, Benin City, narrated how the Jewish people who were outside Israel at that time had flourishing, fruitful and profitable businesses but at a point things were no longer rosy for them despite their being faithful and keeping the laws of God. But then, evildoers were progressing, and so the people of Israel wondered why those who disobeyed God’s laws were progressing while they who kept the laws were not.
He further drew a similarity between the reading from the book of Wisdom and the Gospel of Matthew 13:24-43. The Gospel passage, he explained, was about the parable of a man who went to his farm and sowed good seeds and, while he was asleep, an enemy went and sowed weeds among the wheat. Seeing this, the servant went to complain to the master and asked for permission to pull out the weeds.
“But the master replied, ‘Let both grow until harvest, I will tell the reaper to separate them’,” he said.
Drawing from the two readings, Fr. Ogbeiwe said that God does not punish sinners but rather gives them length of time to repent of their sins, and he forgives them when they repent.
He also referenced the book of Ezekiel, pointing out that God is not pleased with the death of a wicked man but rather wants that wicked man to turn from his evil ways and live.
He urged Christians to remember that God is always slow to anger and that even when the devil is roaring like a hungry lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), God is always there to protect his people.