Last week, I focused on the mandate of Christ to us ministers, namely, being fruitful rather than being successful.
One challenge facing our vocation to fruitfulness is the belief that once we are on good terms with the authority, we are okay. More particularly, as dioceses and religious congregations in Nigeria need funds to put up structures and run the diocese or congregation, we assume that once we can send our superiors money or connect them to those who can provide funds, we can have our way. Of course, in redemptive honesty, this happens. Interestingly, this is not limited to Nigeria. There is a reason some national Episcopal conferences can get away with some things while others may not. This is the reality of human nature, and we cannot wish it away.
However, as we reflect on being fruitful and successful, we need to realise that it is spiritually self-destructive to assume that since the bishop or superior wants money to help in administration, we can use money as a bargaining chip in the ministry. It is self-destructive because we are not working for the bishop or superior, but for Jesus.
Just as Jesus sent his disciples, he sends us to the mission through the competent ecclesiastical authority. It is irrelevant if the bishop or superior explicitly says it or not; we should know this.
Like the disciples reported back to Christ at the end of their brief apostolic work with stories of victory and salvation of people, so too, we are to report back to the bishop or superior with stories of how we increased the number of recipients of the sacraments, taught Catechism, enabled conversion, built a loving Christian community, and ultimately achieved holistic salvation through designed pastoral strategies. This is the story that Christ expects and his criteria for judging us on the last day. Of course, the buildings we construct help a lot in promoting spiritual growth. However, they are not an end in themselves, but simply a means to an end. This is an example of how success (buildings) can lead to fruitfulness (holistic salvation of souls).
The bishop and superior are also called and sent; therefore, they must also render account to God on how they administered the diocese or congregation. While they need money to administer the diocese or congregation, on the last day, God will not ask them how much money they raised or the structures they put in place. Instead, God will ask them how many souls they saved through the pastoral strategies they adopted. The same goes with the Pope. To whom much is given, much is expected.
Ka Chineke mezie okwu 🙏🏾