Thursday, 14 May 2015

Homily for 7th Sunday of Easter Year B - on the Gospel by Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp

Homily for 7th Sunday of Easter Year B - on the Gospel 
by Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp
Theme:  Holiness and Service
The Salvation Army, compared to other churches, emphasizes the selfless nature of true religion without forgetting the importance of personal holiness. Its founder, General Booth, once said, "Without any boast, without any vanity, I can assure you that when I gave myself to God I did so more to save others than to save myself." That may sound strange to many of us who take it for granted that the primary, if not the only, purpose of being a Christian is to save one's soul. If that is so, then what we read in today's gospel will also sound strange to us. Jesus declares: "For their sake I sanctify myself" (John 17:19). We shall take a closer look at this profound statement.

Reflection/Homily: Seventh (7th) Sunday of Easter Year B (May 14 2015)

       Reflection/Homily: Seventh (7th) Sunday of Easter Year B (May 14 2015)
Theme: “Consecrate them in the Truth, Your Word is Truth”
Last Thursday, we celebrated the solemnity of the Ascension of Christ into heaven. Just as it was said then, Jesus is no more physically present with us but he is still with us spiritually – in the Church, the Word of God, the Sacraments and in our neighbours. His departure from the world has not left us orphans and that is what the readings of today assure us of. In today’s gospel reading (John 17:11-19), we reflect on the priestly prayer of Jesus Christ offered before his passion and death. This prayer strengthens us at this moment of his physical absence and assures us of the abiding grace of God around us. To this end let us take a closer look at some parts of this prayer.

Jesus knew what was going to befall him and how the faith of his Apostles would be shaken. To keep his apostles on the safer side, he prayed for them, asking his Father to keep them true to His name. In our moments of danger, temptation, vocation or business crises, have we prayed for God’s grace to abide in us or do we relax presuming God’s grace since He knows all things and is equally a loving Father?

Friday, 8 May 2015

Reflection/Homil: Sixth (6th) Sunday of Easter Year B

Reflection/Homily: Sixth (6th) Sunday of Easter Year B (May 10 2015)
Theme: “Love one another as I have loved you”

In our world today, love is a concept that has assumed several nuances. There are several meanings of love such that one is confused on which meaning to adopt. Today most people consider love to be sex, unholy friendship and other negative attitude. 

But in the gospel reading today (John 15:9-17), Jesus clearly paints a picture of what true love is by giving us instances of God’s love for us in four ways. First that he came to lay down his life for us and there could be no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. Second, he has given us the freedom and opportunity to become his friends, friends of God only if we do what he commands us. He calls us friends instead of servants because he has made known to us everything he learnt from the Father. Third, God manifested this love for us first by choosing us. The love existing between God and us is God’s own initiative. We did not choose Him to enjoy His love rather He chose us to enjoy His love. Fourth, he commissioned us to go out and bear fruit, fruit that will last. That means He has given us every requirement for a successful life and the opportunity to receive whatever good we ask God in Christ’s name.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Reflection/Homily: Fifth (5th) Sunday of Easter Year B (May 3 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Fifth (5th) Sunday of Easter Year B (May 3 2015)
Theme: Cut off from me, you can do nothing

There is this popular story in the internet about an encounter a Christian had with an atheist. The Christian visited the atheist’s shop to have a haircut and in the course of having the haircut, they argued on the existence of God. The atheist used the existence and abundance of evil in the world to argue against the existence of God. The Christian left the shop and returned later arguing with the barber that barbers do not exist. The atheist was surprised and asked if he had no just encountered him as a barber and the Christian quickly showed him a man whose hair was very bushy and unkempt. The atheist replied, “that is the lot of those who do not come to me and immediately the Christian retorted, God exists but evil is the lot of those who do not go to Him.

This story does not imply that those who go to God often cannot experience one form of evil or the other, but it expresses in concrete terms, the point Jesus is making in today’s gospel reading (Jn. 15:1-8),”cut off from me you can do nothing”. This is because in him we live, move and have our being. The parable of the Vine Jesus presents to us today portrays our utter dependence on God. As branches, we can only bear fruit when we remain firmly attached to the vine. That is to say that when we separate ourselves from the vine, we lose our foundation like a fish out of water, then trials and tribulations will overcome us.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Reflection/Homily: Fourth (4th) Sunday of Easter Year B (April 26 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Fourth (4th) Sunday of Easter Year B (April 26 2015)
               Theme: “I am the Good Shepherd”

Today is a special Sunday in Eastertide traditionally called “the Good Shepherd Sunday”. In today’s liturgy, we reflect on and learn from Christ who is the Good Shepherd. In the Old Testament, we discover that most often God chose His instruments among shepherds. This was perhaps because of the special qualities they possessed. In the New Testament, Jesus amidst other professions, decided to identify himself as a shepherd. A shepherd is humble, kind and dedicated to the duty of taking care of his flock. He knows his sheep and they know him because they listen to his voice. He is ready to lay down his life for his sheep. He is a good leader who is patient and kind. In the gospel reading (John 10:11-18), Jesus describes himself with these qualities not just as a shepherd but as the Good Shepherd; a model for all shepherds. Therefore today, we shall reflect on Christ as the Good Shepherd, the shepherding ministry of the Church and the unity of Christians.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Reflection/Homily: Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper Year B (April 2 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper Year B (April 2 2015)
Theme: The Eucharist: A communion and Summit of Love

In this liturgy of the evening mass of the Lord ’s Supper, the Holy Mother Church commemorates three principal mysteries; the institution of the Eucharist, the institution of the priesthood and Christ’s commandment of brotherly love. Our reflection this evening will be based on these mysteries.

The Institution of the Eucharist: The first reading (Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14) gives us a pre-figure of the institution of the Eucharist which is the Christian Passover meal. In the second reading (1 Cor. 11:23-26), St. Paul narrates the manner with which Christ instituted this great sacrament and gave his apostles the mandate to celebrate it in his memory. The Eucharist is a topic that can never be exhausted because it is a theology about God which cannot be fully comprehended. For want of time and space, we shall concentrate on the Eucharist as a communion.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Reflection/Homily: Palm/Passion Sunday – Year B (March 29 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Palm/Passion Sunday – Year B (March 29 2015)
Theme: The Painful Betrayal of a Friend

In the Shakespearean classic, Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare narrated the betrayal of Julius Caesar by his best friend Marcus Brutus. In that tragic play, Brutus was tricked into joining a team of conspirators who wanted to kill Julius Caesar. On the fateful day of Caesar’s assassination at the Capitol, he was stabbed in the back by his murderers but the stab from Brutus came as a very big shock to him. He felt betrayed by a friend and was disposed to defeat. Shocked at the betrayal by his friend Brutus, Caesar died with the words “Et tu Brute?” (and you Brutus?) on his lips. You may have had similar personal experiences of betrayal by a trusted friend. Perhaps, a friend betrayed your love, or betrayed you in a business plan or in school or at work. These are usually very painful and traumatic experiences. In the light of our personal experiences of betrayal by a trusted friend, we can better understand the agony Christ went through in today’s passion narrative (Mt. 26:14-66 or 27:11-54). Judas, one of the closest friends of Jesus conspired with the Chief priests to hand Jesus over to them at the cost of thirty pieces of silver. Perhaps, he thought Jesus would miraculously escape as he had always done, but the whole drama became clear to him only when Jesus was taken away to be crucified. His inordinate love for money led him to betray his master. 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Bishop Malachy John Goltok of Bauchi Diocese is Dead

Barely a month after the interment of the former Catholic Bishop of Aba Diocese, Most Rev. Vincent Ezeonyia CSSp, the Catholic Church in Nigeria has lost another young and vibrant Bishop to the cold hands of death. His Lordship, Most Rev. Malachy John Goltok, the Catholic Bishop of Bauchi diocese, lost his over one month of battle against cancer of the throat when he gave up at the wee hours of Saturday March 21 2015. Until his death which occurred at the age of 49, he was a very dedicated and vibrant Bishop. 

The Bauchi Diocesan Chancellor and Secretary to the Late Bishop, Rev. Fr. Andrew Batare confirmed the unfortunate incident and revealed that the Late Bishop was given adequate medical attention at Our Lady of Apostles Hospital Jos before his demise. According to him, the late Bishop was due to celebrate his 50th birthday in July and his 25th Priestly Ordination anniversary in November. In a Press Release signed by Fr Justine John Dyikuk for the Director of Social Communications, Bauchi Diocese, a vigil Mass will be celebrated in honour of the deceased Bishop on Wednesday March 25 2015 at 6pm at St. John’s Cathedral Bauchi while his Funeral Mass will hold on Thursday March 26 2015 at 10pm in the Cathedral Church.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Reflection/Homily: Fifth (5th) Sunday of Lent Year B (March 22 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Fifth (5th) Sunday of Lent Year B (March 22 2015)
Theme: The Christian Cross as a Gateway to Heaven
In life, most times we desire good things but sometimes, we are unable to pass through crucibles in other to get them. For example, many students dream of graduating with first class honours but only a few are really burning extra candles. Some of us forget that hard work is a necessary condition for a great achievement. In the gospel reading (John 12:20-33), Jesus reiterates this principle that nothing good comes easy. He uses the analogy of the sown wheat to demonstrate that to redeem man, he must die and for us to gain eternal life, we must also die just as a sown wheat must die in the ground before it yields a rich harvest. The problem is that most of us are reluctant to work hard. This reluctance is found in our physical and spiritual lives. Sometimes, we want this or that from God but we can’t kneel in prayer to get them. We want to go to heaven but we can’t do good and avoid evil. We want to be exceptionally spiritually gifted but we can’t work hard to develop these spiritual gifts, etc.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Pope Francis declares a Holy Year for Mercy

During his homily for a Lenten penitential service, Pope Francis announced an extraordinary Jubilee to start at the end of the year, which will be dedicated to a theme close to the pontiff’s heart: mercy.“Dear brothers and sisters, I have thought about how the Church can make clear its mission of being a witness of mercy,” the Pope told attendees of his March 13 penitential liturgy in St. Peter’s Basilica. “It's a journey that starts with a spiritual conversion. For this reason I have decided to declare an Extraordinary Jubilee that has the mercy of God at its center. It will be a Holy Year of Mercy.”The biblical passage for the Holy Year's theme is from Luke Chapter 6 verse 36, in which Jesus tells his disciples, “Be merciful as your Father is merciful.” “I am convinced that the whole Church will be able to find in this Jubilee the joy of rediscovering and making fruitful the mercy of God, with which we are all called to give consolation to every man and every woman of our time,” Francis said, and entrusted the Holy Year to Mary, Mother of Mercy. Pope Francis made his announcement during a penitential liturgy opening the second “24 Hours for the Lord” event, which he originally called for in Lent of last year.

“My Time at the Vatican may be Short” – Pope Francis

In an interview Pope Francis granted to the Mexican broadcaster Televisa on the second anniversary of his unexpected election, Pope Francis said his time as the head of the Roman Catholic Church will be brief. Pope Francis said he misses the relative anonymity he had as a bishop. As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, "He also said he doesn't mind being pope, but would like to go out in Rome unrecognized, for a pizza." Pope Francis said, “I have a sensation that my pontificate will be short: four or five years, or two or three.” "'I feel the Lord, the pope added, “has placed me here for a short time.” Pope Francis also praised his predecessor's decision to resign as courageous. Pope Benedict's decision, the pope said, opened the door to popes emeritus. Pope Francis also focused on one of his favorite themes, denouncing what he called the injustice of wealth, saying it's a mortal sin to give someone an unjust salary or for the rich to take advantage of the poor.

Later in the day, Pope Francis announced a special jubilee year starting in December to focus the Church on its main priority: mercy. Remembering the week that he was named pope, Francis said he had packed only a small suitcase for his trip to the Vatican, and he had already written a homily to deliver on Palm Sunday, after returning to Argentina. "He was not on any list of eligible candidates and neither had the thought entered his mind," according to the Vatican News agency. " Discussing the idea that he would only remain pope for a short while, Francis said, "It is a somewhat vague sensation. Maybe it's like the psychology of the gambler who convinces himself he will lose so he won't be disappointed, and if he wins, is happy. I do not know."

A Short Stations of the Cross

1st Station: Jesus is condemned to death – O my Jesus, you were condemned for my sake and most often I still condemn you through the evil I do, help me with your grace never to condemn you again and when people condemn me or rain all sorts of abuses on me just because of you, help me to stand firm.
2nd Station: Jesus carries his cross – My dying Jesus, I understand the weight of the cross to be the weight of my sins, help me to carry my own cross patiently following your example.
3rd Station: Jesus falls the first time – My most beloved Jesus, by virtue of your first fall help me to overcome the sins of the flesh which make me fall away from your grace.

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