Sycophants In Government Misrepresent Issues In Nigeria, Bishop Kukah

Speaking truth to power or pointing out significant issues which a government fails to address in a country is being erroneously regarded as negative criticism by apologists of government in Nigeria.

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Northwest Nigeria, Most Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah said it is sycophants in government that twist whatever he says as “attacking the government”.

He said he has nothing personal against those in power whose inactions he has always pointed out. In the case of the current administration, Bishop Kukah said two things stick out as sore thumb which he openly urges the government to work on – the daily loss of lives to insecurity and the lopsided appointments in favour of a particular section of the country.

He stated that the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad had severally voiced out such concerns on the daily occurrence of the killing of Nigerians by terrorists and bandits in nearly every part of the country in a terser language than his.

Most Reverend Kukah was speaking during his end-of-year interface with journalists in Sokoto, a forum he midwifed since he become the Bishop of Sokoto. The forum provides the opportunity for journalists to ask questions on a wide range of issues.

Bishop Kukah insisted that the so-called insecurity as a war between “Christians and Muslims” or vice versa in Nigeria is erroneously touted by opportunists to provide them cannon fodder for evil. He jocularly remarked that “when they share what they looted from the common till the issue of religion does not come to play”.

Answering a question on youth participation in governance, Bishop Kukah said everywhere in the world, the youth desirous of political power have to get involved in politics and naturally work their way upward as there is never a deliberate policy of reserving political office for youth because they are youth.

During the interaction, Bishop Kukah commended Nigerian journalists for their resilience in executing their professional duties to sustain Nigeria’s democracy. He thanked them for their cooperation and constantly answered the call to serve the nation even during trying times.

The Chairman of CAMPAN, Sokoto Diocese, Matthews Otalike thanked the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto for his media friendliness and providing the opportunity to interface with journalists. He also thanked the journalists working in Sokoto state for their cooperation and particularly for giving the 2018 Catholic Bishops Conference hosted by Sokoto Diocese, the widest coverage ever by the secular media in the country.

Is the Massacre of the Holy Innocents Historical?

Were the Holy Innocents of Bethlehem True Martyrs? (Thomas Aquinas on the  Baptism of Blood) - Taylor Marshall

The evidence does not point toward Matthew’s birth narrative as a merely allegorical account

Trent Horn

Matthew 2:12 tells us that the Magi were warned in a dream not to return to Herod the Great after visiting Jesus and his family, and so they departed for their country by another way. Herod, upon realizing their failure to report to him, subsequently ordered all the male children in Bethlehem under the age of two to be executed (Matt. 2:16). Atheist C.J. Werleman wrote of this story:

[T]here is no record of King Herod or any Roman ruler ever giving such an infanticidal statute. In fact, the ancient historian Josephus, who extensively recorded Herod’s crimes, does not mention this baby murdering, which would undoubtedly have been Herod’s greatest crime by far.

One way to defend Matthew’s account would be to say he is not intending to write a literal history of Jesus’ birth. Instead, Matthew is using various narrative devices, including fictional ones, in order to underscore the reality of Jesus being the “new Moses.” One of those devices would be the creation of a story that parallels the slaughter of the Hebrew infants from which Moses was spared (Exod. 1:22).

HOLY INNOCENTS, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2019 - Claretian Missionaries

But this approach to Scripture often evinces a “hermeneutic of suspicion” and begins with an assumption that denies not just the miraculous but also the providential. From this perspective, real historical events can’t “rhyme” with one another in order to demonstrate God’s sovereignty over time and space. Any such “marvelous coincidences” have to be explained as the inventions of a rather mundane author who is just riffing on older source material.

The evidence does not, however, point to the Gospels being such purely allegorical accounts. Matthew’s narrative diverges significantly from Moses’ birth story. For example, Jesus is raised by his mother instead of in Herod’s court and Moses flees as an adult from Egypt whereas Jesus flees as a child to Egypt. In his book Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives, Pope Benedict XVI wrote,

What Matthew and Luke set out to do each in his own way, was not to tell “stories” but to write history, real history that had actually happened, admittedly interpreted and understood in the context of the word of God. Hence the aim was not to produce an exhaustive account, but a record of what seemed important for the nascent faith community in the light of the word. The infancy narratives are interpreted history, condensed and written down in accordance with the interpretation.

But what about the argument from silence that atheists like Werleman make? If this massacre really did happen, then why didn’t any other author—biblical or non-biblical—record it?

First, Mark and John do not discuss any of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, so we wouldn’t expect them to talk about the slaughter of the innocents. Second, Luke and Matthew’s accounts are complementary, not redundant, and so it isn’t surprising that there are details unique to each account be it Matthew’s description of Herod’s slaughter of the innocents or Luke’s description of Caesar Augustus’ enrollment of the population in what later authors describe as a “census” (Luke 2:1).

Such an act of cruelty perfectly corresponds with Herod’s paranoid and merciless character, which bolsters the argument for its historicity. Josephus records that Herod was quick to execute anyone he perceived to threaten his rule, including his wife and children (Antiquities 15.7.5–6 and 16.11.7). Two Jewish scholars have made the case that Herod suffered from “Paranoid Personality Disorder,” and Caesar Augustus even said that it was safer to be Herod’s pig than his son.

In addition, first-century Bethlehem was a small village that would have included, at most, a dozen males under the age of two. Josephus, if he even knew about the massacre, probably did not think an isolated event like the killings at Bethlehem needed to be recorded, especially since infanticide in the Roman Empire was not a moral abomination as it is in our modern Western world.

Herod’s massacre would also not have been the first historical event Josephus failed to record.

We know from Suetonius and from the book of Acts that the Emperor Claudius expelled the Jews from Rome in A.D. 49, but neither Josephus nor the second century Roman historian Tacitus record this event (Acts 18). Josephus also failed to record Pontius Pilate’s decision to install blasphemous golden shields in Jerusalem, which drove the Jews to petition the emperor for their removal. The Alexandrian philosopher Philo was the only person to record this event.

Sometimes historians choose not to record an event, and their reasons cannot always be determined. In the nineteenth century Pope Leo XIII noted the double standard in critics for whom “a profane book or ancient document is accepted without hesitation, whilst the Scripture, if they only find in it a suspicion of error, is set down with the slightest possible discussion as quite untrustworthy” (Providentissimus Deus, 20).

We should call out this double standard when critics demand that every event recorded in Scripture, including the massacre of the Holy Innocents, be corroborated in other non-biblical accounts before they can be considered to be historical.

Holy Innocents, Holy Innocence

On the Feast of the Holy Innocents, let us renew our resolve to preserve the innocence of our own children from the depredations of a corrupt world

HOMILY FOR MONDAY 28 DECEMBER: THE FEAST OF THE HOLY INNOCENT – WitnesslineAs the joys of Christmastide surge to the Epiphany, Catholics are reminded on the third day of Christmas, with all the tough grit of the Catholic faith, that our Lord came to bring not the peace of three French hens, but the sword of division and death.

The silent night is hardly past before the slaughter of the Holy Innocents dawns red. The path of salvation has always been awash with blood and tears, and the celebration of this first voiceless company of infant martyrs, who died for Christ’s sake, gives a sobering balance to the feast of children, childhood, and the family.

On the heels of the Nativity, the terrible fire of the slaying of the Holy Innocents scorches the second chapter of Matthew:

Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled,
because they were no more (2:16-18).

Feast of the Holy Innocents: In Memory of All Innocent Victims of Injustice  and Violence – National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help

The wise men were right, as T.S. Eliot wrote, to wonder if they were led all that way for birth or death. The innocence of those firstborn sons who died at the birth of Christ because of Herod’s paranoia made them sacrificial lambs for the Lamb of God, both born to die for an eternal purpose.

Consider the relevance of the Holy Innocents in our own day, where we suffer from not so much a slaughter of innocents as of innocence. We should not forget the literal innocent blood dotting the background of our life, in the murder of millions of unborn children through the atrocity of abortion. But this literal slaughter, and the acceptance of it by so many, has given way to another species of subtle slaughter. Our collapsing culture also attacks and dispatches children’s innocence, which should be sacred and inviolate, strangling too that innocence of experience and moral certitude that instinctively rejects depravity.

This bloodless slaughter of innocence comes about by a strategy centered on falsehood. The falsehood that is rampant in our society, our media, and even our churches and schools robs our children of their purity, given half a chance, through the elimination of the motions of the heart to love authentically and the preservation of the life of grace, leaving boys and girls, men and women, fathers, mothers, priests, teachers, tradesmen, and lawmakers impaired in their ability to be awed by truth and to find joy in the beautiful.

The sad result is jaded spirits that reject formation and inspiration and even salvation. Cynicism develops as a defense mechanism, leaving young people crusted over and swallowed up by the distractions of addicting entertainment. Children fall into apathy in a world that eventually fails to titillate. The never-ending procession of temptations against reality result in a loss of desire for reality, which is the foundation of any sound mind. And the world stands by, for the most part, witnessing and suffering these outrages.

In his masterpiece of a poem, “Lepanto,” G.K. Chesterton reviews the lamentable lassitude of sixteenth-century Christendom, looking on passively, or perversely, entangled in heresy and politics, as the forces of Islam swept across Europe.

The North is full of tangled things and texts and aching eyes
And dead is all the innocence of anger and surprise,
And Christian killeth Christian in a narrow dusty room,
And Christian dreadeth Christ that hath a newer face of doom,
And Christian hateth Mary that God kissed in Galilee,
But Don John of Austria is riding to the sea.

The innocence of anger and surprise is all but dead in our day of excuses and confusion. Good fences make good neighbors. You be you. Live your truth. It’s none of my business. These are the relativist slogans for the slaughter of innocence that takes place in our neighborhoods and churches and schools. And so many people find themselves reluctant to stir, let alone struggle, in the name of innocent anger to save innocence from being torn asunder.

What is the answer? As Catholics, we must do all we can to safeguard innocence, to enshrine wonder and delight, to shield our children from things they don’t need to know at a tender age and hold off on introducing the burden of practicalities that interfere with the playful optimism of youth. Telling kids that Christmas has become a secular slog of commercialism is a kind of millstone that interrupts their innocence and puts up obstacles to wonder.

If our innocents are deprived of wonder, their path to cynicism, virtual reality, pornography, and addiction is that much shorter. This Christmas season, let us cherish and guard the innocence of our children and allow them to find the beauty in invisible realities that include those creations of imagination, folklore, and whimsy that make our faith so beautiful. These are the mysteries that can sustain us and our children through the fake and sullied world that lies in wait to slaughter the innocence that will save us.

We celebrate the innocence of the Word Made Flesh as we commemorate the innocents who were put to death by the iniquity that Jesus Christ came to redeem us from. Let us not only honor the innocence of our children, but also take up the innocence of righteous indignation at those plots and poisons that seek to deprive our little ones of the quality we must preserve, by any means necessary and despite the guilt of sin, so we all may live on as children of God, as holy innocents ourselves.

Satan’s Six Messages

When discerning whether someone has a demonic problem or not, I typically ask what “messages” they are hearing in their heads. Over the years, I have heard the demonically possessed and oppressed consistently relate six basic messages. Satan whispers (or yells!) these in people’s heads without respite:

  1. You are a terrible person.

  2. There is no hope for you.

  3. God doesn’t care about you.

  4. You’re mine. I will never leave.

  5. You are going to hell.

  6. You should kill yourself.

There is a little bit of this mental negativism in all of us, we who are tainted by Original Sin. But when Satan is doing it directly, the message is loud, consistent, and unrelenting. I personally believe that more than a few people take their own lives after being worn down with years of this mental battle.

What to do? I recommend people confront this on both the natural and supernatural planes….

On the natural level, Satan gets a foothold in people’s psyches through their human weaknesses and sins. In this case, the more damaged our psyches, the stronger this negative self-talk in our heads. Satan will exploit this weakness.

So, we should engage normal human remedies for such mental negativity. For example, a variety of cognitive-behavioral interventions can be a help. There are a plethora of these on-line. Counseling by licensed professional, who is supportive of the faith, might bring some healing to the roots. For more serious cases, medications for obsessive-compulsive thinking may be indicated.

Ultimately the final antidote to Satan’s message is the Good News of Jesus. This supernatural battle can only be finally resolved on the supernatural plane. Once we know deeply in our hearts that God loves us personally, and that we are saved by the blood of the Lamb, then our minds can fully be at peace.

There is no other final remedy to Satan’s bad news than the Good News of Jesus.