The Misery of Self-Disenfranchisement


Some years ago, I was in the midst of a group of people discussing politics at breakfast. It was a group that goes for breakfast once or twice a week. I was visiting from Rome where I was studying. They were having a very heated argument about the policies of the president. As always, some were in support, and many were against his policies. I was new to this country and so, was completely uninformed to make any contribution. At one point, a woman just asked the question: how many of you voted in the election? It turned out that only two out of the eleven in the group voted. The woman almost angrily said: “if you didn’t vote, please stop complaining. You disenfranchised yourselves and you are complaining”! There was silence. Then the two who voted felt they had more power to weigh in on the issue at stake. The question of that woman seemed to have so much power as to suck out the air in the discussion. After the question, the discussion didn’t take long to end. We left the restaurant, but I remained stunned as to how powerful the woman’s question was! The question kept pounding in my head: in what ways do I disenfranchise myself and blame it on others? In what ways have I been the architect of my unhappiness and blamed it on other people? How have the wrong choices I made led to my current situation? These and similar questions constantly nagged at me and demanded an honest and self-searching response. The same questions God poses to each of us this weekend!


In creating each person as unique, lovely and loveable, God has given each one of us the right to be happy, to be joyful, and to be useful. Opportunities may differ, but with absolute trust in God’s guiding hand in our lives, we can be happy, joyful, useful and grateful. It is to this profound happiness and peace that God calls all His children. But, like most people who do not vote, we often tend to give up those rights to be happy, joyful, useful and fulfilled through the choices we make. We reject values of life and hard work; we reject God’s invitation to live in communion with others in mutual love and forgiveness, starting from our families; we choose to live a false life and reject living in truth; we believe there is no right or wrong and that there are no objective ways of doing things; we believe and live as if we can eat our cake and have it back anytime and anyhow we want it! We sell our souls to the latest idea, latest fashion, latest gadget and pleasure in the market! And yet, we wonder why there is so much misery in our lives and relationships! Well, there are many pills and drugs and all kinds of pleasurable events now to take away the edge of misery that we feel. But it is not the same feeling as the true happiness which God gives to our hearts.


The Lord of hosts has prepared a great feast for his children full of choicest wine, good food and soulful music (Is. 25:6-10; Mt. 22: 1-14). But many refused to attend for flimsy reasons. Those who honor the invitation find joy and happiness; those who refuse to attend have no one to blame for their misery except themselves! We accept or reject the invitation through the choices we make. But whether we accept or reject the invitation, the consequences are clear: fullness of life or a life of regrets and misery. In what ways have you disenfranchised yourself of your right to true joy and happiness in the Lord? The Good News is that it is never late to change direction and find your way back to the Divine Banquet. And then you will receive the proper clothes for the feast. May you receive this grace through Christ Our Lord. Amen!

~Fr Okeke