The Sudden Popularity of Fr James

Jarlath Opara

Jarlath Opara

THE SUDDEN POPULARITY OF FR JAMES.

The news of Fr. James banning Igbo songs and his indefinite leave of absence by his local ordinary is trending big time!

Suddenly , he has become a social media celebrity for the wrong reason. From Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and twitter his fame is all over.

Bad things trend the most, flying quicker, with an amazing coverage , turning a nobody into an instant talking point for every Dick Tom and Harry.

What could have pushed Fr. James into such a divisive and anti Christian love comment? Could there be a history behind his action? Even if there was, could such a history no matter how domineering and exclusive it was justify his action?

Is his indefinite leave of absence a better response to his action? Could there have been a more non punitive but reconciliatory dousing measures meted out?

Of what negative or positive effects would this suspension be on his mental health? What about his loved ones, family members etc, what kind of psychological impact would such have on them?

Just imagine him, being your brother trending on social media for the wrong reason. What instinctualy would be your reaction? Shame! Pains!! Agony!!, embarrasment!!!

Would he be able to recover from the shock, tag and labeling this would have impressed on his personality? Two things are possible, either he takes a 360 degree remorse walk or a dive into a deeper hate and bitterness against the Igbos.

The former is my prayer, only the Holy Spirit would make this possible through our collective and sincere prayer of healing for him.

We may not have asked for the banning of tribal songs because of the frequency of their rendition, but may have done things that obviously placed people on the place of victims and vulnerability.

He may be unfortunate to have been beamed with the ever shining light of social media. He may not be a one man riot squad against Igbo song dominance in Catholic liturgy. They are legion from North, South, and West, the disaffection and disenchanting disposition are the same. The difference is , he was caught and disciplined.

Fr James is still a priest and our brother. Calling him names, hauling curses and being unnecessary uncouth with words to him wouldn’t solve anything.

This for me should be a wake up call for other tribes to be more participatory in the musical liturgy of the Catholic Church. The Igbos also should put to good use their vasatality in learning and rendering other tribal songs, what is good for the goose is good for the gander

There are quite a number of Hausa, Yoruba Efik etc songs that blow my mind and put me a deep seated spiritual atmosphere even when the words sound greek. I guess I am not alone in this experience.

If Latin songs and Mass are appreciated by many who know next to nothing about Latin, who says a non Igbo wouldn’t appreciate Igbo songs or a non Yoruba and Hausa wouldn’t relish the dynamic rhythm of such songs.

Let us learn to accommodate one another’s weakness and appreciate our strength the more.

For me the suspension of Fr. James adds nothing to me, it rather subtracts, making me feel pains, how the body of Christ is being infiltrated with the spirit of I am for Paul and not for Apollos.

For those who are celebrating and giving the Archbishop of Lagos thumps up for his suspension should halt and pause , take a deep breath and pray for the unity of the church. The enemy is prowling and roaring at the very aisles of the church

If banning of Igbo songs is the only challenge, dent, and disfigurement trending in the Church, hurray!! would be my instinctual reaction, but there are more to it than meet the eyes.

My prayer goes to Fr .James, wherever you are, may you be strong, seeing the unseen hands of God in all these. Stronger and more accommodating you will be at the end.

Let us pray more and criticize less!

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