ON 30TH JULY, 2021, AT KOFORIDUA
HOMILY BY FR. JOHN K. LOUIS
READINGS: 1 Peter 4:8-11/Ps. 23/ Matthew 25:31-46
Dear Msgr. Alex Bobby-Benson, on behalf of Most Rev. Joseph Afrifah-Agyekum, the priests, religious, laity, and your family gathered here, I wish to congratulate you! Mo ne adjuma! Ayekoo! And thank you for giving me, your first-born priest, this singular privilege to preach on this very special occasion of your 40th anniversary of priestly ordination.
Beloved in Christ, as we celebrate Msgr. Bobby-Benson and wish him many more years of fruitful service to Christ and His people, let us be inspired by his life and ministry. For the sake of time, I wish we could learn the following four (4) lessons from Msgr. Bobby-Benson’s life:
• We should identify and develop our God-given gifts or talents
• We should always trust in the providence of God
• We should always foster value addition to people’s donations
• Our ministry should always aim at glorifying God
These are the highlights of the day’s “news”. Now the details:
- HAVE I IDENTIFIED MY GOD-GIVEN GIFTS? AM I DEVELOPING THEM?
St. Peter reminds us in today’s first reading: “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received” (1Peter 4:10). Thus, each of us has received a gift or gifts from God. Within the first three years of his priestly ministry, Msgr. Bobby-Benson, while attending to his general pastoral work, identified and started developing his God-given gifts, notably, as a champion for works of mercy including caregiving.
Subsequently, he developed his caregiving skills by pursuing Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) in Ireland and USA. Since then, he has become a renowned teacher in CPE in the Church in Ghana.
I personally enjoyed from his works of mercy while he was the Pastor of St Kizito Parish (Nima) and I was a seminarian (1986-1992). I have, however,
not been the only fortunate one. The returnees from Nigeria in 1985-86, the poor and needy in Nima, the people living with HIB/AIDS of his Matthew 25 project, and many others have enjoyed from his works of mercy. And soon, the terminally ill will benefit from his Matthew 25 Hospice project.
Beloved, Msgr. Bobby-Benson has identified and is developing his gifts. What about us?
- DO I ALWAYS TRUST IN DIVINE PROVIDENCE?
Today’s responsorial Psalm reads: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters. … Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil” (Psalm 23:1-2, 4). This is an expression of faith in God’s providence. Like the psalmist, Msgr. BB believes in God’s providence, particularly that God will always touch the hearts of people to donate towards his ministry for the needy, the sick and dying. And this is evident in the fact for 40+ years, Msgr. BB has always had some inflows to continue his compassionate works, even during the COVID period.
Do we, like Msgr. BB, always trust in the providence of God?
- DO I ALWAYS FOSTER VALUE ADDITION TO PEOPLE’S DONATIONS ?
We are familiar with Value Added Tax (VAT). Similarly, there is Value Added Donations (VAD). That is, when one receives a donation for an intended project, and he/she applies it accordingly, value is added to it (donation). For instance, when a donation for the hungry is channeled to help them, there is double value: first, the poor are satisfied; and secondly, the donor is blessed by Christ who identifies Himself with the poor: “just as you did it to one of the least of my brethren, you did it to me.” (Matt. 25:40).
For over four (4) decades, Msgr. BB has been fostering Value Added Donations (VAD), through his very strict adherence to the intentions of his donors. Therefore, beloved let us all donate generously towards the Matthew 25 Hospice project,
for value will be added to our donations.
Now, are we like Msgr. BB who fosters value addition to donations? Or are we practicing Value Depreciation Donations (VDD), by disregarding the intentions of our donors? Beloved, if we practice VDD, we will not be able to stand before the countless needy people when (on the last day) the Lord Jesus exposes the numerous times we denied them of some reliefs.
- DOES MY MINISTRY ALWAYS AIM AT GLORIFYING GOD?
According to the first reading, “Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever” (1 Peter 4:11). Beloved, striving to let his ministry glorify God, has been a fundamental motivation of Msgr. BB, for these 40+ years.
That is, that God will be glorified through Christ is what has motivated Msgr. BB to give care to the needy or distressed with compassion without counting the personal cost, to selflessly provide for the needs of the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick (esp. those living with HIV/AIDS), prisoners and the dying, as well as discharge his other priestly duties.
Beloved brother priests and religious, is the glorification of God still a fundamental motivation behind our ministry?
Now, the closing headlines: Msgr. BB, we thank you for reminding us by your inspiring ministry:
• to identify and develop our God-given gifts
• to always trust in the providence of God
• to always foster value addition to people’s donations
• to always aim at glorifying God
Finally, Msgr., congratulations, and may God grant you many more years of dedicated services with good health.