July 22, 2024
News Nigeria

HOMILY FOR SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER AND OPENING MASS OF THE 58TH WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY AT ST. PAUL CATHOLIC CHURCH, BENIN CITY ON SUNDAY MAY 5, 2024

HOMILY FOR SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER AND OPENING MASS OF THE 58TH WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY AT ST. PAUL CATHOLIC CHURCH, BENIN CITY ON SUNDAY MAY 5, 2024

 

  + Augustine O. Akubeze

Archbishop of Benin City

 

Protocol

The Parish Priest and Dean of Benin City Deanery – Rev. Fr. Charles Omogiate,

The National Director of Social Communications -Very Rev. Fr. Michael Umoh and other members of the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria here present,

The Director of Communications, Archdiocese of Benin City – Rev. Fr. Jude Orah

Other Priests and Consecrated persons here present,

The Nigeria Union of Journalist (NUJ)

Catholic Media Practitioners of our Archdiocese as well as other members of the Press here present,

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Glory be to Jesus!

 

  1. INTRODUCTION: Praise be to God who has blessed us with the gift of communication. Praise be to God who communicated his love to us by sending his only begotten Son to die for our sake. Indeed, I am most delighted to be in your midst this morning and to celebrate not just as an Archdiocese but as a Nation the opening Mass for this year’s World Communications Sunday. It is truly a great privilege for the Archdiocese of Benin City to host the opening of this celebration which the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria has directed to be celebrated as a week-long media literacy programme, beginning from today the 5thof May till the 12th of May, 2024. Thus, I welcome all who have come from across the length and breadth of our country to join us in this celebration of the Mass as we commence our Communications Week celebration today. It is our prayer that God will grant you all a peaceful stay in Benin City; make fruitful your deliberations and lead you safe and sound to your various destinations at the end of this week celebrations, through Christ our Lord. Amen

 

In a special way, I greet members of the various Media houses who have come to join in this celebration of the opening Mass of the World Communications Day. I thank you for all your efforts and diligence to humanity in ensuring that true and not false stories are properly disseminated to all persons near and far. I acknowledge the risk and hazards involved in the exercise of your duties especially in the face of enticing offers that presents themselves in order to distort the truth. Thus, I wish to commend you and encourage you to always stand for what is right and live true to the tenets of proper journalism. Therefore, we offer this Mass in a special way for you; that God will bless, protect and reward you as you go about your daily work in this special mission he has entrusted to you, through Christ our Lord. Amen

 

To all of us who have gathered for this Eucharistic celebration, I bring you the peace and the love of Christ, which is beyond all telling and it is my prayer that you will always experience this peace in your lives, in your families, in your businesses and in all your endeavours, through Christ our Lord.

 

  1. THE READINGS: ACTS 10:25-48, 1 JOHN 4:7-10, JOHN 15:19-17

Today my dear friends in Christ, is the Sixth Sunday of Easter and we celebrate our Lord whose love is universal. We are reminded through the readings that God has no favourite but freely communicates his love and spirit to all who accept him. Thus, we are called to love one another.

 

In the first reading of today taken from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter witnessing the conversion of Cornelius and his family and how they received the Holy Spirit testified to the universality of God’s love and to the fact that God has no favourite. We see in our first reading how God allowed the Gentiles who heard Peter’s speech to receive the Holy Spirit in the same way the Jewish audience had received on the day of Pentecost. This non-discriminatory love of God is re-echoed again in our responsorial psalm which says; “The Lord has shown his deliverance to the nations”

 

Dear friends in Christ, our second reading continues on this same theme of love as we are reminded by St. John that “God is love and he who abides in love abides in God.” This statement contains the greatest definition of God as it equates God to love and love to God. Hence, to explain this incomprehensible love of God, St. John reminds us of how God out of his love for us, sent his only begotten Son to die for our sin. Therefore, if we are to be like God, we must learn to truly love God and show this same love to our neighbour.

 

In our Gospel passage of today, Christ gives us the divine commandment of love and calls on us to be bearers of God’s love, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Today, when we look at the world, we see evidently a society that is malnourished of love, a society that is being starved of true love because of hatred, greed and malice. There are so many persons in our world today who are in dire need of our love. There are so many persons who wish to be reminded of God’s love for them. In fact, the greatest poverty in our world today is not the absence of food, shelter or clothing; rather, it is the absence of true love. For where there is no love there is no God and where there is love and charity there God dwells.

 

Today, as we celebrate World Communications Sunday, we are called to be ambassadors of God’s love and to communicate this love of God to all we meet; irrespective of colour, tribe, religion or political affiliations. Love is the greatest language of communication. It is a universal language that is understood by all; without the language of love we cannot communicate effectively. In fact, a communication without love is empty and dry noise. This is why St. Paul tells us in his first letter to the Corinthians chapter 13 that, “if I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have no love, I am only a noisy gong or a resounding cymbal”. The world my dear friends is tired of noisy gongs, it needs men and women who will communicate God’s love effectively. Let us therefore ask God to give us the grace to realize that we are beneficiaries of his love and for this reason, be moved to share this love to others, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

  1. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND THE WISDOM OF THE HEART: TOWARDS A FULLY HUMAN COMMUNICATION

 

The theme for this year’s World Day of Communications focuses on the Artificial Intelligence and the Wisdom of the Heart: Towards a fully Human Communication. His Holiness, Pope Francis introduced his message for this year’s 58th World day of Social Communications by stating the dilemma of society with regards to technology and Artificial Intelligence which brings benefits as well as adverse consequences to human communication and society as a whole. In his words, he says that “the rapid spread of astonishing innovations, whose working and potential are beyond the ability of most of us to understand and appreciate, has proven both exciting and disorienting.” He therefore called on us to use the wisdom from the heart in other to make proper decisions especially at this time in history which risks becoming rich in technology and poor in humanity.

 

The heart as the seat of wisdom is enabled by the gift of the Holy Spirit to make proper discernment which helps us to look at things with God’s eyes, to see connections, situations, events and to uncover their real meaning.  The Holy Father, while acknowledging the capacity of machines to produce and store data insists that it is only the human mind alone that possesses the rational, independent ability of making sense out of those data. Therefore, it is important that in our search and use of advanced technology we do not delude ourselves that we can become like God without God. Thus, while Artificial Intelligence systems can help us to overcome ignorance and facilitate the exchange of information between different peoples and generations, we must be aware that when in the wrong hands, it can be abused, misused and manipulated to spread fake News which can distort our relationship with others and with reality.

 

In addition, the Pope further sympathizes with journalists who have been victims of various assaults as well as those who have been killed in the line of duty in order to enable us see what they themselves had seen. Thus, the use of artificial intelligence can make a positive contribution to the communications sector, provided it does not eliminate the role of journalism and the values of professionalism of communication; provided it does not create more unemployment in the society or lead to the manipulation of truth. In all, the Pope calls on us to ask God for the grace of wisdom to make the right decision and to allow ourselves find answers in time so that humanity may never lose its bearings.

 

  1. APPRECIATION/ CONCLUSION

Dear friends in Christ, on this day in which we begin our Communications Week Celebration, I wish to express our deepest gratitude to the men and women of our Archdiocese who have in various ways contributed their; time, talents and resources to the spread of the Gospel through the Media. In addition, I thank the Catholic National Director of Social Communications -Very Rev. Fr. Michael Umoh together with his team for the great work they are doing in our Church as well as Rev. Fr. Jude Orah and all those who work with him in the spread of the Good News in our Archdiocese. During this Mass we shall be giving awards to some of you, but I want you to know that ultimately, it is God who gives the reward. It is therefore our prayer that God will reward you with eternal life and grant you his peace, through Christ our Lord.

 

To our other Journalists and Media personnel here present, I wish to thank you for all the labours you put in especially with regards to the discharge of your duty. It is not easy to be a journalist in Nigeria, the hazards involved are quite enormous; the threat to life and family; political interference, lack of trust from the public, the spread of fake News especially through the social Media, the lack of Press freedom, poor welfare, ethical and political dilemma as well as other challenges involved in the Media are indeed the sad reality you face every day. Yet, you have never wavered in your passion to spread true information to the public. It is therefore our prayer that God will continue to bless you and protect you and your families as you serve the society.

 

To all of us here present, I wish to remind you of your duty to communicate God’s love to others and to encourage you to participate actively throughout the course of this week’s communication programme. And may the grace of God the Father, the Love of God the Son and the communion of God the Holy Spirit be with you all.

 

God Bless you !!!

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