Saturday, 25 July 2015

Reflection/Homily: Seventeenth (17th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (July 26 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Seventeenth (17th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (July 26 2015)
Theme: What is your Loaf of Bread?

Recently, I once attended a function that lasted more than it was necessary. I didn’t take my breakfast before setting out for the event and when the event was unnecessarily being prolonged, I became very hungry and looked forward to the light refreshment. Unfortunately, the organizers of the event didn’t anticipate a very large guest that the provisions they made were obviously insufficient for all that so many persons including myself went home disappointed, hungry, and angry. In the first reading (2 Kings 4:42-44), we see a different scenario. Elisha’s servant was asked to distribut twenty barley loaves among a crowd containing about a hundred men and he wondered if the loaves would ever be enough for all but at the end of the story, the crowd all ate and there were some left over. In the gospel reading (John 6:1-15) too, the disciples wondered about the sufficiency of the five loaves of bread and two fish which were to be used to feed a crowd containing about five thousand men. At the end of the story, when Jesus blessed the loaves and fish, the crowds all ate and there were twelve baskets filled with left overs. 

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Reflection/Homily: Sixteenth (16th) Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B (July 19 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Sixteenth (16th) Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B (July 19 2015)
Theme: Leading According to the Examples of Christ.

In today’s first reading (Jeremiah 23:1-6), God through the prophet Jeremiah rebukes the bad leaders of Israel who through their bad leadership allowed the Israelites to be destroyed, scattered and taken into captivity by the Assyrians. They could not take good care of the people under their care and perhaps were also unavailable to attend to their needs. As a result, the people became lawless, turned away from God and were taken into captivity. But God did not abandon His people as their leaders did. Instead, He promised to bring them back from captivity, to gather them into one people again and to raise another leader for them. This time, a leader who would be available for them, a leader who would be compassionate and merciful, a leader who would teach them the right things to do and a leader who would attend to all their needs, both spiritual and temporal. 

In the gospel reading (Mark 6:30-34), we see the fulfillment of this promise in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the new shepherd of Israel, the good shepherd who will lay down his life for his sheep instead of allowing them to remain under the captivity of sin and death. He is the shepherd to gather the scattered people into one flock and feed them with his body and blood.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Reflection/Homily: Fifteenth (15th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (July 12 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Fifteenth (15th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (July 12 2015)
Theme: The Mission of the Twelve: An Example

Since the creation of the world, God has never ceased to make Himself present among His people. He has used and still uses Patriarchs, Kings, Prophets, Apostles, Priests and other ministers to make His presence felt in the world. In a special way, He is also making Himself present in the world through each and every one of us whom He has sent into the world. In the gospel reading (Mk. 6:7-13), Jesus made himself more present among the people by sending the Twelve apostles to them. Today, he has also sent you to the world as he did to the twelve. Your mandate remains the same with The Twelve; to evangelize the people and make things better for them, but through various approaches; as medical doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, labourers, priests, etc. He has given you the authority over every obstacle and has charged you with the responsibility of making the world a better place.

The rhetorical question for today is; How do you fulfill your mission in the world? How have you made the presence of Christ who has sent you into the world felt among His people? How have you contributed to the alleviation of people’s problems and made the world a better place to live? Do you work in a manner that depicts your collaboration to work for the good of humanity after the mind of Christ who went about doing good? Have you preached the Good News through your life style? As a student, farmer, health worker, trader, priest, religious, seminarian, etc, what motivates your mission among the people of God? Are you like Amaziah in the first reading (Amos 7:12-15) who thinks that our mission or vocation is solely to earn money? Unlike him, be disposed like Amos to see your work or vocation as a calling from God and so be disposed to co-operate with His divine will for humanity.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Reflection/Homily: Fourteenth (14th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (July 5 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Fourteenth (14th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (July 5 2015)
Theme: Becoming Over Familiar with Jesus

A priest-friend once shared with me an experience he had on a visit to his priest-friend’s native home. According to him, when he was about to leave, the mother of his priest-friend approached him requesting him to bless some water for her. He asked the woman why she didn’t ask her priest-son who had been at home for a week to bless the water and she quickly retorted, “Fr leave that one”. This kind of story makes one begin to wonder if she was over familiar with the priesthood of her son, or considered her son to be an unholy priest or was simply suffering from lack of faith. I believe this kind of disposition is not unique to her but is generally seen in most places. Some ministers experience this type of neglect and treatment. In the gospel reading (Mk. 6:1-6), it was also this kind of neglect and treatment that Jesus received in his home town Nazareth. He went about doing good elsewhere but when he returned to his home town that his people might have a share of his good works, he was received with over-familiarity, treated with contempt and listened to with unbelief despite the wisdom that came from him. 

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Homily/Reflection: Thirteenth (13th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (June 28 2015)

Homily/Reflection: Thirteenth (13th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (June 28 2015)
Theme: Faith - A Pre-requisite for Divine intervention
Faith is one of God’s gratuitous gifts to man. It is that virtue that enables us to put our whole trust, dependence and belief in God and what He has revealed. Faith is that drive that makes us keep looking up to God even when there seems to be no hope. In fact, it is a pre-requisite for us to receive any favour from God. The gospel reading (Mark 5:21-43) presents us with practical examples of faith in God, especially in difficult and hopeless situations. Here, the faith of Jairus and the woman suffering from hemorrhage become a paradigm for all of us. They were confronted with difficult situations but rather than give up, they strongly held on to Christ in faith who they believed can change their situation.

Like them, we too are not without ugly situations begging for divine attention. Some of us may be currently suffering the death of a beloved one or strange illnesses or even financial hemorrhage. These ugly situations most often challenge our faith in God. Confronted by them, some even begin to question God’s goodness and might. The reality of death, hunger, sickness, poverty, failure, etc assures us that trials and tribulations cannot be totally avoided in life. When they come, we can only look up to Jesus with faith and confidence relying on his compassion for the suffering. In the past, those who looked up to Jesus were never put to shame neither were those who deposited total faith in God disappointed. To be considered truly faithful, one has to undergo several trials and tribulations and still stand firm in God. Abraham had to leave his father’s land and he also attempted sacrificing Isaac, Job had to lose all he had, yet they still believed in God. Today, they are regarded as men of faith.  

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Reflection/Homily: Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ Year B (June 7 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ Year B (June 7 2015)
Theme: The Cleansing Power of the Eucharist

Some foreigners in a certain land disobeyed the laws of the land and were put into prison before they would be executed. They requested to see the king to plead for amnesty. On hearing their request, the king decided to visit them in prison. In his simplicity, he wore ordinary clothes but unfortunately the foreigners could not recognize him because they had not known him previously. They ignored him when he introduced himself to them as the king because they expected to see a man in royal outfit. Unfortunately, the king left them without any favour because they could not value him. He seemed to be too casual but he preferred simplicity so as to be approachable. Often times, we experience this kind of situation when we meet important people, at other times something of value before us because we are familiar with it or because it in presented in ordinary form. That is why today, the church wants us to re-evaluate our value for the Holy Eucharist through this solemnity of the body and blood of Christ. Unlike on Holy Thursday when we reflect on the Eucharist, priesthood and love, today our attention will be focused only on the Eucharist precisely on its cleansing power.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Reflection/Homily: Pentecost Sunday (May 24 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Pentecost Sunday (May 24 2015)
Theme: “Receive the Holy Spirit”

The Word “Pentecost” is derived from the Greek word “pentekoste (hemera)” meaning “fiftieth (day). Pentecost Sunday is a Christian feast with a Jewish origin in the Old Testament known as the “festival of weeks” (Shavuot) (cf. Ex. 34:22). Since Shavuot is celebrated 50 days after the “pesach” (Passover or Christian Easter) in thanksgiving to Yahweh for the reception of the Torah, Hellenistic Jews gave it a Greek name pentekoste and that was the major reason why the Jews gathered in the first reading. (Acts 2:1-11). In Christianity, we celebrate Pentecost as the fiftieth day after Easter, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles. It is also the tenth day after the Ascension.

Christians could find some relationship between the Jewish and the Christian Pentecost. Moses had to go up to Mount Sinai to receive the Law, as the apostles had to go up to the Upper Room to receive the Holy Spirit. While the Law guided the Jews, the Holy Spirit guides the Christians for they are no longer governed by the Law but by the Spirit. The descent of the Holy Spirit as we saw in the first reading did not just occur in history. It was prophesied both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. In Joel 3:1, God promised to pour out his Spirit on all humanity in the latter days and in Mt 3:11, John spoke of the One who will baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. Jesus also spoke of ascending to the Father, so that the Holy Spirit would come. The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Blessed Trinity which is known as the Paraclete, the Comforter and the promise of the Father. He performs the functions of sanctification and empowerment. At the Pentecost, He sanctified the Apostles and empowered them to lead the Church. Some theologians consider today to be the birthday of the Church and the baptism of the Apostles.

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.

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