The wailing wall in Israel
I am not a Catholic but I had the privilege of Catholic education and so I was as consumed with the election of a Pope as the folks at St. Peter’s Square.
There is also the fact that my job requires I monitor what the world is listening to and watching.
But I remember the thrill with which I leapt up to turn on the television when I read on twitter that white smoke was billowing from the chimney of the Sistine chapel.
Then we finally met our Pope, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and a Jesuit. He walked out on that balcony, smiled, greeted and connected with the millions down there and at home. For me, it was his joke about his brothers “searching the ends of the world for him,” his request for prayer that won me over two nights ago.
We have since come to know more about him; he cooks, dances the tango, takes the bus (if he were here that would be the tro-tro), lives a life of austerity and speaks truth to power. And oh, the tales of his humility precede him. The more I learn about him the more I wonder about the other shepherds here.
I mean the men of God in this country. I’m not talking about those doing good work- helping their members deal with difficult life challenges like grief, poverty, single-parenting and most importantly guiding their spiritual growth.
I’m talking about the other ones. Perhaps you may have met one. They are some of the richest men around here. It would be blasphemy to state that some of the riches come from their congregation, some of whom are really poor.
Matthew 6:19 says “do not store up for yourself earthly treasures where rust and moth destroy.” And even if you choose to ignore that bit about rust and moth, every study indicates materialism and consumerism are killing both our souls and bodies and yet some of our pastors here are leading the campaign for the ‘get-the-latest- of-everything,’ from cars to shoes.
They have the flashiest of everything. (No boarding the troski home with plebeians).
In fact some Pastors are so rich it I believe they must be compelled to share the wealth of the State since the Holy Spirit hasn’t. So imagine my surprise when I read that the government inspired by the Holy Spirit has decided to send 200 pastors on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Israel at a cost of 2 million dollars.
The trip is according to a letter dated 15th February, 2013 signed by Minister for Youth and Sports, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah sighted by the Daily Guide.
Let no one mention that government subsidizes some Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca because my Muslim friends tell me it is not the crème de Le crème who gets selected. Now even though there is no direct order for all Christians to make that journey to the Holy land in the bible, if one can afford to go to Jerusalem, they should.
However a government that cannot afford to provide its people consistent power supply, portable water, ensure that its people do not suffer from diseases eradicated from elsewhere, should not pay rich men to take a pilgrimage to places where Jesus walked.
A drive on the streets of Accra, all you see are billboards of pastors (sometimes with their wives) then billboards of politicians and the fewer billboards advertising businesses. You’d think that a government presiding over an economy with jobless growth would actually know what to do with two million dollars.
I hear some association of church leaders have turned the invitation down. I commend them. I haven’t checked but the folks at lonely planet say you can do the whole Israel trip on budget, that’s just the first offering in some of the churches on the list.