Saturday, 19 April 2014

Reflection/Reflection: Easter Saturday Vigil (April 19 2014)

Reflection/Homily: #EasterVigil/Holy Saturday
  Theme: Who will roll back the Stone for us?

 For more than two thousand years ago, humanity has never known a night as powerful as tonight. Tonight represents that great night when the power of death was conquered, the night that reconciled heaven and earth, the night of hope.  The Mother Church is glad for the joyful and glorious triumph of her spouse, Jesus, over death. That is why she invites her children to rejoice and ponder over the salvific wonders of God. The readings all speak of God’s benevolence, love, salvation and mercy on all He created.  Beginning with the book of Genesis, we recall the goodwill God manifested for man which He revealed in creation. We remember His covenant with Abraham. We recall His mighty deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt and His blessings and counsels through the prophets. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Reflection: Good Friday (April 18 2014)



Reflection: Good Friday (April 18 2014)
Theme: The Sacrifice of the Cross: A Paradigm of Christian Sacrifice

Since the fall of Adam, humanity has known no peace. Suffering and death has been the lot of man so much so that life is nothing but misery. This death was not restricted to physical death but included spiritual death. Man’s soul lost the hope of paradise. In this miserable condition, God did not abandon His people because of the great love He bears for them. He initiated plans to save them. This plan began with making the people conscious of their evil ways and directing them in the right path. He made covenants with them and gave them regulations through the patriarchs and prophets. At His appointed time, He sent His Son for the culmination of man’s redemption through the great sacrifice he offered. Though the Israelites had previously offered sacrifices for sins, their sacrifices were incapable of cleansing them because they were made with blood of animals. There was need for a higher victim, so Jesus became the victim and the oblation.

Reflection/Homily: Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper Year C (April 17 2014)

Reflection/Homily: Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper Year C (April 17 2014)
Theme: The Holy 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 Holy Eucharist, the institution of the Catholic Priesthood and Christ’s commandment of brotherly love. Our reflection this evening will be based on these mysteries.

The Institution of the Holy Eucharist: The idea of the Holy Eucharist is dominant in the readings of today. The first reading (Exodus 12:1-8, 11-14) gives us a pre-figure of the institution of the Holy Eucharist which is the Christian Passover meal. In the second reading (1 Cor. 11:23-26), St. Paul narrates the manner in which Christ instituted this great sacrament and gave his apostles the mandate to celebrate it in his memory. As we know, the Holy Eucharist is a topic that can never be exhausted because it is God Himself who cannot be fully comprehended. Based on this, we shall reflect on the Eucharist as a sacrament of communion.

Bishop John Okoye in his Lenten pastoral letter for 2012 describes the celebration of the Eucharist as the highest expression of the identity of the Church as a communion. This is because it maintains the communion between the Church and the Triune God, the communion between the Church and the faithful and the communion between the faithful themselves. Pope John Paul II also pointed out that celebrating the Eucharist however, cannot be the starting point of this communion, it presupposes that communion already exists, a communion it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection (Ecclesia de Euchariatia, no. 35). 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Reflection/Homily: Palm/Passion Sunday – Year A (March 13 2014)

Reflection/Homily: Palm/Passion Sunday – Year A (March 13 2014)
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 at the back by his murderers but the stab by Brutus came as a very big shock to him. He felt betrayed by a friend and was disposed to be defeated. 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.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Reflection/Homily: Fifth Sunday of Lent Year A (6 April 2014)



Reflection/Homily: Fifth Sunday of Lent Year A (6 April 2014)
Theme: God is Ever Ready to Raise You

As a minor seminarian, I once got myself into a problem that almost robbed me of my highly esteemed vocation. I was on suspension as the case was been looked into while I waited for the final verdict of either returning or permanently remaining at home. During that period, I felt I was standing alone in the whole wide dark world. All I needed then was a reassurance of God’s love for me and a physical manifestation of this love. For once, I felt like one in the grave. I spent my days in the chapel asking God to intervene and one day, I decided to prayerfully read the passage presented to us in the first reading (Ezekiel 37:12-14). I felt these words being addressed to me: “I will bring you out of your graves… put my spirit in you… settle you in your land and you will know that I, Yahweh have done what I said I would do.” It was not long after then that a friend who went to plead on my behalf was asked to inform me to return. For once too, I felt like Lazarus being raised from the grave and like Mary and Martha having their brother back. It was then that I became convinced that each time we read the Bible, we do not just recount events that happened in the past, but that God also speaks to us personally and repeats His actions in our lives. 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Reflection/Homily: Fourth Sunday of Lent – Laetare Sunday, Year A (30 March 2014)



Reflection/Homily: Fourth Sunday of Lent – Laetare Sunday, Year A (30 March 2014)
Theme: Healing our Spiritual Blindness

Today is the fourth Sunday of Lent which the Church traditionally observes as Laetare Sunday. Laetare is the Latin word for rejoice. On this Sunday, the Church invites her members to rejoice as we get to the middle of the Lenten season and so, gradually approaching Easter. We have to rejoice because of the great hope that awaits us at Easter. This year, the fact that most Churches celebrate their mothering Sunday today, also gives us an additional reason to rejoice. The first reading (1 Sam. 16:1.6-7.10-13) also gives us another reason to rejoice. This reason is the fact that God does not judge us based on our physical appearances as men do, but that He judges our hearts. The heart here refers to the inner chamber of a person where one interacts with God. This was the lesson Samuel learnt when God asked him to anoint David as King instead of his elder brothers who had better physical qualities. The Good News is that God is not interested in our outward appearances but in our internal disposition towards Him. If our disposition is good, He might also improve on our physical appearances.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Reflection/Homily: Third (3rd) Sunday of Lent Year A (23 March 2014)



Reflection/Homily: Third (3rd) Sunday of Lent Year A (23 March 2014)
Theme: Christ is The Source of Living Water

The first reading (Exodus 17:3-7) narrates to us the story of how thirsty the Israelites were in the desert on their way to the Promised Land. Despite their lack of trust in God, God intervened in their situation by asking Moses to strike the rock with his rod and out of this rock came fresh water for the Israelites to drink. Perhaps we may have experienced similar forms of divine interventions in our lives especially at our moments of despair. The reading assures us that though God may seem not to be interested in our predicaments, He is always there to rescue us and that is why we should continue to trust in Him who can never disappoint us. All we need to do is to obey His commands just as Moses did. Today, in our journey to the new Promised Land (heaven), like the Israelites, we also experience thirst in various forms. We may be thirsty of healing, salvation, employment, financial breakthrough, etc and these problems may have led us to murmur against God. In the midst of these difficulties, we can always approach Christ represented by the ministers of the Gospel who are also representatives of Moses. Through the exercise of their ministry, God comes to our aid. Christ is that rock from which the blessings of God flow like water. He is the source of the living water which quenches our spiritual and physical thirst.

Friday, 14 March 2014

A Short Stations of the Cross



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.

4th Station: Jesus meets his afflicted mother – O my Jesus, help me to love your mother as you did and grant that I may know her maternal care especially when life’s journey seems difficult.

Reflection/Homily: Second (2nd) Sunday of Lent Year A (16 March 2014)



Reflection/Homily: Second (2nd) Sunday of Lent Year A (16 March 2014)
Theme: The Journey of Faith

During my first apostolic work as a senior seminarian, I was sent to a parish in my diocese. This parish was located in the hinterland and I was informed that there was no power supply and mobile telecommunication service (network) there. I was used to regular power supply and I imagined how I could neither charge my mobile phone nor have access to the internet for six weeks. Worst still, then, I was not used to spending a long period of time outside my home or seminary. I wondered how comfortable I would be in a strange environment especially among people of a different culture and dialect. Within the apostolate, I discovered that the grace of God was always at my disposal and it enabled me enjoy the circumstances under which I worked. Perhaps, you may have had a similar experience leaving your home for a strange land either as a result of marriage or educational pursuit or in search of greener pasture. We know there are always lots of anxieties involved in leaving a familiar place for an unfamiliar place.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Reflection/Homily: First (1st) Sunday of Lent Year A (9 March 2014)



Reflection/Homily: First (1st) Sunday of Lent Year A (9 March 2014)
Theme: Dealing with Temptations

There was this little boy who ran to his parish priest in one area of Igbo Land (Nigeria) and said to him, ‘onwunwa na anwam (literally translated temptation is tempting me). The priest wondered what the little boy meant by that and the boy went on to explain how he bought five pigeons to train, four became ill and died simultaneously while the last one flew away. According to the boy, he could not understand why God would allow such a thing happen to him after all the selfless services he renders to God in the Church. Today, we still find many Christians who have the same mind frame like this poor boy. For them, temptation is the worst thing that can happen to them. In fact, they cannot understand why God would allow evil to befall them in the name of temptation or why they should have the desire to do evil. They think that by prayer and good works, they grow above the possibility of being tempted. But we have to understand the exact meaning of temptation before we can conclude we are being tempted.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Reflection/Homily: Ash Wednesday (5th March 2014)



Reflection/Homily: Ash Wednesday (5th March 2014)

It was not long ago that it was announced in a parish that the diocesan bishop would be coming to the parish on a pastoral visit. This great event of the bishop’s visit held once in four years due to the large size of the diocese was marked with a great preparation. There were renovations within the Church premises, decorations, clean ups, etc just to prepare for the great event of the bishop’s visit. This is an indication that most often, important and remarkable things do not just happen without serious preparations. For an ordination and profession to take place there must have been a period of formation, for graduation, a period of scholarly involvements, serious academic struggles and scholarship, for marriage, a period of courtship and even for Christmas, a period of advent.

Reflection/Homily: Seventh (7th) Sunday in Ordinary Time of the Year A (23rd February 2014)

Reflection/Homily: Seventh (7th) Sunday in Ordinary Time of the Year A (23rd February 2014)
Theme: Being like the Father

In human families, we often discover that children bear in themselves visible features of their parents. It is usually possible to identify a child because you are familiar with the father's countenance. So it should also be in spiritual families. We are supposed to bear some features of God our father in us. That is why the first reading (Lev. 19:1-2, 17-18) invites us to be holy as our heavenly Father is. The call to holiness is a universal call to all sons and daughters of God irrespective of creed, colour, nationality, occupation or state of life. There are two paths to holiness of life: the positive path and the negative path. The positive path consists in doing those things expected of us as children of God and the negative path consists in avoiding those things we are not expected to do.

We have to love our neighbours as we love ourselves and we should not hate anyone or try to revenge the evil done to us. Jesus portrays this teaching better in the gospel reading (Mt. 5:38-48) by asking us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. By asking us to turn the other cheek when we are slapped, Jesus was not inviting us to willfully expose ourselves to harm. He was simply encouraging us to take the path of peace which our aggressors would not expect. Holiness thus, becomes our daily strive and we remain in the process of becoming until we are crowned with the unfading crown of glory on the last day. 

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