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Thursday, 23 June 2016

Homily for 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu,Cssp

1 Kings 19:16,19-21, Galatians 5:1,13-18, Luke 9:51-62

On the Gospel, All or Nothing

A guard in charge of a lighthouse along a dangerous coast was given enough oil for one month and told to keep the light burning every night. One day a woman asked for oil so that her children could stay warm. Then a farmer came. His son needed oil for a lamp so he could read. Another needed some for an engine. The guard saw each as a worthy request and gave some oil to satisfy all. By the end of the month, the tank in the lighthouse was dry. That night the beacon was dark and three ships crashed on the rocks. More than one hundred lives were lost. The lighthouse attendant explained what he had done and why. But the prosecutor replied, “You were given only one task: to keep the light burning. Every other thing was secondary. You have no excuse.”

Temptation is a choice between good and evil. But perhaps more insidious than temptation is conflict where one must choose between two good options. The lighthouse keeper in our story found himself in such a conflict situation. So also are the would-be disciples in today’s gospel story. In such cases the good easily becomes the enemy of the best One must then say no to a good thing in order to say yes to the one thing necessary. Today’s gospel is a sequence of four incidents and encounters with people who could have become followers of Jesus but who were held back by ulterior concerns and motives. Each encounter highlights a different concern.

Reflection/Homily: Thirteenth 13th Sunday of the Year C

Theme: The Art of Followership

There is this popular opinion which holds that success without a successor is a failure. This opinion has generally driven great achievers to work for some successors to continue their success stories. We can believe this to be true in the case of Jesus who went about looking for followers and disciples who were going to continue his mission on earth. He attracted a lot of followers which can be grouped into three. The first group was the crowd who followed him looking for signs and miracles. Today, this group is represented in the laity. The people in the second group were those called by Christ to follow him as his witnesses (the 72 disciples) and today this group is represented in the religious. The last group was called to follow him as his special friends (the 12 Apostles) and today this group is represented in the clergy.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Reflection/Homily: Twelfth (12th) Sunday of the Year C

Theme: Who is Jesus for you?

Personal identity simply means the sum total of all those elements and factors that make a person who he is. It is the unique characteristic of a being. This personal identity reflects the way people see and understand a person. Today, we shall look at the personal identity of Jesus and that of his followers. In the gospel reading (Luke 9:18-24), we see Jesus investigating into his personal identity or we can say, evaluating those characteristics by which people knew him. To discover this he asked his disciples “Who do people say I am?” Upon their response, he asked them “But you, who do you say I am?” Peter stood up and gave a personal response of his understanding of the identity of Christ by responding: “The Messiah of God.”

Homily for 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, CSSp

Zechariah 12:10-11, Galatians 3:23-29, Luke 9:18-22

On the Gospel, The Challenge of Faith

Among the fables of Aesop is one entitled The Hunter and the Woodman. A Hunter was searching for the tracks of a Lion. He asked a man felling oaks in the forest if he had seen any marks of the lion’s footsteps or knew where his lair was. “Oh yes,” said the Woodman, “I will take you to the Lion himself.” The Hunter turned pale from fear and stuttered, “No, thanks. I did not ask that; it is only his track that I am looking for, not the Lion himself.” In our dealings with God and with one another we are often like this hunter. We profess that we stand for something but when the full implication of what we profess stare us in the face we draw back.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Reflection/Homily: Eleventh (11th) Sunday of the Year C

Theme: Learning to Say “I AM SORRY” in Words and Deeds

In human relationships we discover that one of the most difficult things to do is to say “I am Sorry”. Relationships break, opportunities are lost, enemies are made just because one party couldn’t say “I am Sorry”. The difficulty here does not lie in pronouncing the words but in accepting responsibility for the guilt done. “I am Sorry” is more than an expression, it is a disposition. Simply put, it is an attitude of recognizing one’s guilt before another and the readiness to make amend. In the first reading (2 Sam. 12:7-10.13), we see this attitude in the action of David who was confronted by the Prophet Nathan for his sins. David not only slept with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, he took her for a wife and conspired to have him killed with the sword of the Ammonites.

When the prophet Nathan approached David for this abominable act, David did not make any effort to defend himself. Instead, he realized and acknowledged his guilt, asked for forgiveness and spent days in fasting and prayer. As a result of this, God forgave his guilt and today he is known as the man after God’s heart. In his action, we see David’s humility, sincerity and contrite heart despite his lofty position as king. 

Homily for 11th Sunday in Ordinary Time, By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, CSSp

 2 Samuel 12:7-10, 13, Galatians 2:15-16, 19-20, Luke 7:36-8:3

On the Gospel, The Cookie Thief

Today’s gospel reminds one of the story of the cookie thief. A woman at the airport waiting to catch her flight bought herself a bag of cookies, settled in a chair in the airport lounge and began to read her book. Suddenly she noticed the man beside her helping himself with cookies from the cookie bag between them. Not wanting to make a scene, she read on, ate cookies, and watched the clock. As the daring “cookie thief” kept on eating the cookies she got more irritated and said to herself, “If I wasn’t so nice, I’d blacken his eye!” With each cookie she took, he took one too. When only one was left, she wondered what he would do. Then with a smile on his face and a nervous laugh, he took the last cookie and broke it in half. He offered her half, and he ate the other. She snatched it from him and thought, “Oh brother, this guy has some nerve, and he’s also so rude, why, he didn’t even show any gratitude!” She sighed with relief when her flight was called. She gathered her belongings and headed for the gate, refusing to look at the ungrateful “thief.” She boarded the plane and sank in her seat, then reached in her baggage to fetch her book, and what she saw made her gasp with surprise. For there in front of her eyes was her bag of cookies. Then it dawned on her that the cookies she ate in the lounge was the man’s and not hers, that the man was not a thief but a friend who tried to share, that she was the rude one, the ungrateful one, the thief.
The cookie thief story reminds us, as we see in today’s gospel, that it often happens that the one pointing the accusing finger turns out to be the guilty one, that the complainant sometimes turns out to be the offending party. In the cookie story, the woman believed she was such a wonderful person to put up with the rudeness and ingratitude of the man sitting beside her. In the end she discovered that she was the rude and ungrateful one and the man was wonderfully friendly. In the gospel the Pharisee thinks he is the righteous one who is worthy to be in the company of Jesus and that the woman was the sinful one, unworthy to be seen with Jesus. In the end Jesus showed each of them where they really belonged and the woman was seen as the one who was righteous and more deserving of the company of Jesus than the self-righteous Pharisee.
Why do things like this happen? Well, because it is easier to hear the other person than it is to hear yourself snoring. It is easy to notice the fault of other people while being blind to our own faults. Great men and women of God have been, all without exception, people who are so aware of their own inadequacies that they are hardly surprised at other people’s shortcomings. People who delight in criticising others betray their lack of self-awareness. In the end they discover that they themselves are indeed the cookie thieves that they accuse others to be.
But what was the mistake of the Pharisee? If the woman was indeed a prostitute where then did he err? After all, what he said about the woman was true, wasn’t it? Of course the woman was a sinner. Jesus did not say that the woman was not a sinner. Jesus only said that the man was a sinner too, and in fact a worse sinner than the woman.
I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has bathed my feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore, I tell you, her sins, which were many, have been forgiven; hence she has shown great love (Luke 7:44-47).
The problem of the Pharisee was his notion of sin and holiness. For him the woman was an “occasion of sin” to be avoided by godly people. Jesus corrects him: it is not what you avoid that counts, it is what you do. The Pharisee might indeed have avoided occasions of sin, but he did nothing for Jesus in need. The woman, on the other hand, attended to the practical needs of Jesus. Jesus accepts the woman’s external show of love as a clear manifestation of inner faith: “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (verse 50). This practical engagement is the crucial difference between her and the Pharisee. How do we employ our faith in practical service of the needy?
Today’s gospel is good news indeed to all who have been humiliated by the “good people” of this world, humiliated in a supposed concern to maintain the standard of holiness in the household of God. Jesus assures them that they are indeed closer to the heart of God than their accusers have made them to believe. And to those who, like the Pharisee, feel that Jesus is their exclusive birthright, the Good News for them today is simple: Watch it, lest in the end you discover that it is you who are the cookie thief after all.

Friday, 3 June 2016

Reflection/Homily: Tenth (10th) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C

Theme: Never you Lose Hope, Jesus is coming to Intervene!

Divine intervention is what so many Christians may have experienced in their lives. Simply described, it is God’s intervention in the unfortunate circumstances of one’s life. Most often people consider it to be an unexpected miracle. For this to happen, God makes use of human and non-human agents. These human agents could be priests, spiritual directors, one’s friends or relatives. The non-human agents could be the Church, a pilgrimage center, an adoration ground, a prayer session, etc.

In the first reading (1 Kings 17:17-24) we see this divine intervention in the life of the widow of Zarephath through a human agent. The prophet Elijah was staying in the house of this widow and through him God intervened in her life by restoring her deceased son to life. In the gospel reading (Luke 7:11-17), we see another case of divine intervention in the life of the widow of Nain. Jesus though God, was the human agent people could recognize. He was moved with pity at the death of the widow’s only son and he restored him to life.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Homily for the Body and Blood of Christ, By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, CSSp

Genesis 14:18-20, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, Luke 9:11-17

On the Gospel, We Become What We Eat

Augustinian nun Juliana of Liège had a vision in which a glistening full moon appeared to her. The moon was perfect but for some hollow dark spots which she was told represented the absence of a feast of the Eucharist. This led to the celebration of the feast of the Body of Christ, Corpus Christi, which was introduced into the church calendar in 1264.

Why do we need a feast of the Eucharist? A feast like this affords us the opportunity to give God collective thanks for Christ’s abiding presence with us which is made visible in the Eucharist. It is also an opportunity for us to seek a better understanding of the sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ and to order our attitude to it accordingly, since the Eucharist is a sacrament of life which, if misused, could bring about the opposite effect. As St Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “All who eat and drink in an unworthy manner, without discerning the Lord’s body eat and drink judgment against themselves. For this reason many of you are weak and ill, and some have died” (1 Corinthians 11:29-30).

Reflection/Homily: Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ – Corpus Christi

Theme: Undergoing a “Pseudo-Transubstantiation”

Today’s celebration of the solemnity of the Most Holy Eucharist is a celebration that is at the center of the Church’s liturgical life and worship. It is the source and summit of our Christian life and faith. The Council of Trent and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC 1376) make it clear that by the consecration of the bread and wine, there takes place a change of the whole substance of bread into the Body of Christ and the whole substance of wine into the Blood of Christ. This change, the Council of Trent calls Transubstantiation. 

For us to understand this dogma of transubstantiation better, it is important to look into what it is not first. There are two heretical theories opposed to the theory of transubstantiation. The first, the heretical theory of Annihilation claims that at consecration, the bread and wine cease to exist and the body and blood of Christ is created ex nihilo (out of nothing) to take the place of the former bread and wine. The error here is the assumption that the ordinary elements of life are annihilated and supplanted by grace. Thus, grace does not build on nature and in fact destroys nature. This makes divine transformation a magic without the aid of the agent.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Homily for Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity Year ABC by Fr. Munachi Ezeogu, CSSp

Proverbs 8:22-31, Romans 5:1-5, John 16:12-15

On the Gospel, Like God, Like Worshippers

The story is told of St Augustine of Hippo, a great philosopher and theologian. He was preoccupied with the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity. He wanted so much to understand the doctrine of one God in three persons and to be able to explain it logically. One day he was walking along the sea shore and reflecting on this matter. Suddenly, he saw a little child all alone on the shore. The child made a hole in the sand, ran to the sea with a little cup, filled her cup with sea water, ran up and emptied the cup into the hole she had made in the sand. Back and forth she went to the sea, filled her cup and came and poured it into the hole. Augustine drew up and said to her, “Little child, what are you doing?”  She replied, “I am trying to empty the sea into this hole.” “How do you think,” Augustine asked her, “that you can empty this immense sea into this tiny hole and with this tiny cup?” She answered back, “And you, how do you suppose that with your small head you can comprehend the immensity of God?” With that the child disappeared.

Reflection/Homily: Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity 2016

Theme: The Blessed Trinity: Our Faith and Model

In the fourth century AD, the Church convoked a council at Nicea precisely in 325 to condemn the Arian heresy taught by Arius. This man taught that Christ was not fully God and is unequal with the Father in all respects. This Council proclaimed Christ equal with the Father by proclaiming the dogma of the Blessed Trinity. The Council Fathers also composed hymns and prayers to be used specifically on the Sunday after Pentecost. At the request of St. Thomas a Becket, the Church in England was granted the permission to celebrate it as Trinity Sunday and in 1334 AD, Pope John XXII made it a universal solemnity. That is why we are celebrating it today.

The mystery of the Blessed Trinity is very important in the life of the Church because it is the source of her faith. The Church is in fact Trinitarian in her origin, form and destiny. In other words, the Church originated from the Trinity, is formed according to the image of the Trinity and is destined to return to the Trinity. Despite the importance of this mystery in the life of the Church which is God’s visible instrument of salvation, she is not in any way interested in unravelling this mystery but in explaining the relationship between the three Divine persons and the role they play in the history of our salvation. 

Friday, 6 May 2016

Homily for Pentecost Sunday Year ABC by Fr. Munachi Ezeogu, CSSp

Acts 2:1-11, Romans 8:8-17, John 14:15-16,23-26

On the Gospel - Come Holy Spirit

One bright Sunday morning like today, Benson's mother hurries into her son's bedroom and wakes him up. "Benson, it's Sunday. Time to get up! Time to get up and go to church! Get up!" Benson mumbles from under the covers, "I don't want to go." "What do you mean you don't want to go?" says the mother. "That's silly. Now get up and get dressed and go to church!" Benson goes, "No, I don't want to go and I'll give you two reasons why I don't want to go." He sits up on the bed and continues, "First, I don't like them and second, they don't like me." His mother replies, "Now, that's just plain nonsense. You've got to go to church and I'll give you two reasons why you must. First, you're now forty years old and, second, you're the pastor!"

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