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April 3, Monday, Fifth Week of Lent I - Jesuits of North-West Africa Province | Society of Jesus

Love Over Evil

Monday, Fifth Week of Lent

April 3, 2017

Dn 13: 1-9. 15-17. 19-30. 33-62 or 13: 41c-62/ Ps 23: 1-3a. 3b-4. 5. 6/ Jn 8: 1-11

By *Mr. Uchechukwu Oguike, SJ

"Iya Dami, I follow mama Bright quarrel for two years, e no shake me! Your own small, na five years straight quarrel we go do!". "Na who pour water for my generator? E no go better for that person and him children and generation!".

Utterances like these and several others plague my mind whenever I reflect over the twenty years I spent growing up in Ajegunle, Lagos, Nigeria. Images of long term quarrels, fights, gossip, avarice, adultery, false witness and licentiousness readily play out. It just strikes me how deep evil is rooted into the human condition. As much as I experienced warmth, love and immense happiness growing up, I cannot help but take cognizance of how much evil was dominant in the society.

The problem of evil did not begin with my neighbors in Ajegunle, neither did it begin with Jesus Christ. Several mystics from different centuries have struggled to understand this problem of the human condition, and how it tends to pull them away from God. St. Augustine in his Confessions, has a strong sense of the "goodness of himself", but expresses how he was easily overcome by his passions – his concupiscence or tendency to be pulled towards the evil intrinsic in him. This is also evident in the Judges of the first reading today, the adulterous woman in the gospel, and the Pharisees who sought to stone her to death. Although the Judges were held in high regard by the people, they struggled to restrain the evil in them – they lusted after Susanna. The adulterous woman and the Pharisees were blind to the goodness in them, and preferred the evil.
How then do we respond to this problem? Growing up, I often thought evil was the best response to evil. People responded with abuse to another abuse. The Pharisees responded to the evil of the adulterous woman with more evil: condemning her. The Judges also did same. Perhaps, love is a better response to evil. Jesus, as light and love bringer, shows us how to respond to evil. "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again". This is the exact message of Lent: Love as a response to evil in the world. Jesus is God's response of love to the evil in the world.

In the sorrow of our intrinsic evil, Jesus brings light, joy and love. In the sorrow of the evil of the Judges, Daniel brought joy, and love to Susanna. Indeed, the people testify to this when "all the assembly shouted loudly and blessed God, who saves those who hope in him". As we continue our journey of Lent, let love be our response to the sorrow of evil around us: in our families, work places, markets, schools. Perhaps, in our response of love to the evil around us, we may begin to feel light and love growing within us, to dispel the evil intrinsic in us. Like Augustine, we can say of God "from the core of my being, I believe you to be imperishable, inviolable and unchangeable".

*Mr. Uchechukwu Oguike, SJ, is a scholastic studying Philosophy at the Arrupe College Jesuit School for Philosophy and Humanities in Harare, Zimbabwe. 



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