We Catholics still have a lot of work to do

By Emmanuel Ojeifo

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Very often when people of other faiths or other Christian denominations impugn our Catholic beliefs and question why we ‘worship Mary’ or ‘bow to images’ or do this and do that in our church, we immediately launch a counter-offensive, which sometimes degenerates into bitter quarrels, trading of insults, and ego bashing. Not only does this destroy what we are trying to build, namely a relationship of goodwill with those who differ or disagree with us on matters of faith, it also creates bad blood, obscures the witness which we are supposed to give about our faith, and stalls all our well-meaning efforts at Evangelization.

The point is this: You do not defend your faith by sitting on a high horse. You have to come down to your opponent’s level of thinking and gradually lead him gently by the hand like a little child, taking him on a journey through familiar paths to your own higher level of thinking. This is the first step to conversion. I don’t mean conversion here in the sense of getting the person to become a Catholic. I mean it in the sense of getting the person to come to a better understanding of what you believe and to respect your belief even if he/she may not agree with everything you say.

On the contrary, we tend to be on the offensive, seeing people questioning our faith as ‘enemies’ rather than as ‘friends’ who should be helped to better understand why we believe what we believe. If we keep seeing people questioning our faith as ‘enemies’ we will never make a point. No matter how much they attack us, we must be calm and unruffled in responding to them. When we launch an offensive or a counter-attack, we miss the point about really sharing our faith and ‘converting’ our opponents. Mahatma Gandhi once said that, “One’s opponents must be weaned from error through patience and sympathy.” We need to be patient in addressing such contentious questions as if we were trying to teach a little child the Alphabets. The child might be saying A, B, F, K, C. You don’t have to be angry. You have to be patient to say No. it’s A, B, C, D, E.

As Jesus said, “Be as wise as a serpent but as gentle as a dove.” In other words, be wise in acquiring knowledge about your faith but be gentle in presenting, sharing and defending it. In the end, what saves a Christian is not doctrines per se, but love. Faith put into concrete action is what saves. So, next time you argue about your faith, cool your temper. Hot temper no dey help. After all, no matter how hot your temper is, e no fit boil water or fry yam.

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