WEDNESDAY 13TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME
Amos 5:14-15,21-24, Matthew 8:28-34
In Leviticus 11:27, God told Moses to instruct the people of Israel not to eat swine. Pure Jews therefore adhere to the law so tenaciously that they can even give up their life if forced to do so. We see a good example of it in 2 Maccabees 8, when King Anthiochus Epiphanes IV tried to force a woman and her 7 sons to eat swine flesh, and when they refused, he killed them one after the other.
In our various cultures and traditions, there are things we also forbid to eat. Some do not eat snake, snail, dog, cat, rabbit and the likes. I understand that there is a part of India where they do not eat cow. It is the case therefore that what is forbidden in one culture may be the best delicacy in another culture.
In the case of the Jews for example, it was only their mix up with the Greeks during exile that made them to test swine flesh under threat of torture and death. Some continued to eat it even after the exile, thus we had people who reared them as their business just as others reared goats, sheep and other animals. Nevertheless, swine was not a common thing among the Jews and many did not regard it as worthwhile. Jesus as a Jew must have heard and had his own experiences of swine not seen as important among the Jews.
In the gospel reading of today, we see how Jesus values the life of a human being more than that of an animal by casting demons from them into the herds of swine. Human life is the ultimate, and every other innanimate thing such as businessds can be sacrificed for it.
In some places, animals are treated better than human beings, forgetting that human life is irreplaceable. Though we are not called to be cruel to animals, we are called to be conscious of the sacredness of human life.
I remember a story of how a man fought his neighbour and killed him because he had injured his goat that had eaten the yam of his neighbour. The incessant killings of Fulani herdsmen in various places due to misunderstanding between them and the owners of farmlands which the cows destroy has already attracted international attention.
Let us therefore be more compassionate to our brothers and sisters, knowing that human life is the most important thing, not what we have or our businesses. God help us. Amen
Fr Michael Osatofoh Eninlejie MSP