You cannot be a good Catholic and a bad Citizen!

by Rev. Uche Dr. Obodoechina

Man is a citizen of two cities, namely the heavenly city and the earthly city. We live here on earth and hope to live eternally in heaven. All religions agree that there is a place of rest after this earthly sojourn. The righteous who live according to the dictates of God will enjoy eternal reward, while eternal damnation awaits the hard-at heart who do not give in to conversion.

There is a certainty in our experiences and orientations arising from our human nature that there is something beyond all we are doing now. It is self-evident that life is not all about what we are doing here and now only. There is a here - and -after -about life and living. Though not very real among the agnostics and people of other minds and opinions, the truth remains that man was not made only for the life we are now living.

There is indeed another fellowship somewhere beyond. And all religion takes time to prepare its votaries for this great-life beyond. While we are eager about this life eternal, and this is evident in our diverse religious orientations and practices, we are being called upon to take a little look at our other responsibilities here below. We live in a society and among one another.

We are not yet in heaven or any where beyond. Man is essentially a social animal. And he who does not live in society, Aristotle will tell us, is either a beast or a god. The society in which we live is our home here below. We have a duty towards our society and nay our state. The state exists in turn to do for the individuals what they cannot do for themselves individually.

As a supreme public authority, the state exists for the establishment of the common good. It provides essential goods and services for the well-being of all its members. In the same way, each member of the state owes it as a duty to contribute to the over-all good of the state in such an interconnected web of mutuality.

And so we cannot be very good men and women of our diverse faith affiliations, ready for heaven beyond, with all the heavenly virtues in our arsenal, without a corresponding preoccupation for a better society here below. We shall have lived in illusions and delusions. The society in which we live is the place of preparation for the new place in heaven thereafter.

A significant way of this preparation is to be good citizens of our society and state here below. We are to be law-abiding citizens performing our civic duties. For instance, paying our appropriate taxes, and taking active part in the electoral process in a democratic set up. These are enormous ways of responding to the demands of our double citizenship- citizens of heaven and citizens of earth.

It would be a grave mistake and dereliction of duty to shirk our earthly responsibilities in the illusion of our heavenly citizenship. Rather than that, true religion obliges its members to fulfill their societal responsibilities according to their respective vocations. That is to say, a good performance of our civic duties here below puts us in good stead for a place in the heaven to come.

It is indeed an error to enhance and encourage the dichotomy that exists between the faith we profess and the practice of our daily lives. We cannot be good Christians for instance, and very bad citizens. They are contradictory. And this is the experience we are living with here in our country Nigeria. People profess all kinds of faith with beautiful theories of life hereafter, without being conscious of the obligations of our human conditions here on earth.

We cannot go to heaven without being here on earth for some time. The little time of our earthly sojourn here, demands that we respond to our duties to our society here. Each and every one of us has a role to play to make our society a home for all. Today more than ever before, the die is cast; we are called upon to take active part in the processes of choosing our leaders!

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