By SEAN DOUGLAS, Trinidad Newsday
TURN from your wicked ways! Archbishop of Port-of- Spain Fr Joseph Harris yesterday called on the nation of Trinidad and Tobago to turn from its wicked ways adding that the “punishing hand of God” can now be seen in the land.
During his homily at the Ash Wednesday Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Port-of-Spain, Fr Harris said, “my dear friends, I am not a person who sees God’s punishing hand in every unfortunate circumstance of life. But history does say to us that some unfortunate circumstances are indeed the punishment of God for our unrepentant wickedness.”
Citing the story of Fatima and World Wars I and II as evidence, Harris urged worshippers to pray to God, “to spare us.” “As Ambassadors for Christ let us proclaim the message of seeking reconciliation with God, not only by our prayer, our words and advice but much more by our way of life.” He urged the congregation to reconcile with those they may have offended or been offended by.
“Let us as disciples and imitators of Christ Jesus take up the cross for our nation. Let us do this as the Gospel reading suggests, not to impress others but so that the heavenly Father will see the likeness of His Son in us and redeem our land.” Harris said the Ash Wednesday liturgy of placing ashes on the forehead echoes the Ancient Jewish tradition of wearing ashes to represent mourning, fasting and repentance.
“It symbolised grief especially grief over sin that causes division from God and destruction of self as an individual and a nation. My dear friends come to have the ashes put on your heads if you are genuinely grieving for the state of our nation and wish to do whatever is necessary to turn things around. “This is a commitment to carrying the cross of each day as you strive to forget self and live seeking the good of others and that of our nation.” Earlier, Harris said that after the good and bad of Carnival, now is the time to take stock of who we are. “My dear friends, these two months of the year 2017 have been the bloodiest in our history. The recession has hit us with ensuing job losses and the gap between rich and poor widening every day.” While some of us live very well, he added, an increasing number of persons, many of them our relatives and friends, are finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet.
“There is a rise in hopelessness but as Christians we do not allow ourselves to lose heart. We turn to God and listen to His Word, so that this Word may remind us of who we are, may strengthen us, may give us courage and ultimately fill us with joy.” Quoting the First Commandment, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”, Harris said that TT has created other gods of money, pleasure and power.
Money has led TT into problems such as illicit drugs, arms and human trafficking and corruption.
“We have forgotten the scriptures which say to us, ‘the love of money is the root of all evil’, and that, ‘we cannot serve God and money’. Despite all that afflicts us, because we are ambassadors for Christ, we bring a message of peace from our God, the true God, who in spite of our infidelity still reaches out to us.” Harris said God is calling us. “Come back to Me with all your heart, fasting, weeping and mourning. Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn.
Turn to the Lord your God again, for He is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness and ready to relent,” he said as many in the congregation said, “Amen.” (Reprinted from Trinidad Newsday)