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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Homily for 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, CSSp

Genesis 2:7-8,18-24, Hebrews 2:9-11, Mark 10:2-16

- on the Gospel - Jesus' Teaching on Divorce

Some Pharisees came to Jesus, and to test him they asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?" (Mark 10:2). What is going on here? Why is it a test? Well, to start with, the Pharisee never had any doubts about the dissolubility of marriage. The Law of Moses took the lawfulness of divorce and remarriage for granted and all the Pharisees accepted that. It says:

If a man takes a wife, and after they are married she is unpleasing to him because of something objectionable in her, let him give her a statement in writing and send her away from his house. And when she has gone away from him, she may become another man's wife. (Deuteronomy 24:1-2)

The only disagreement among the various schools of the Pharisees was: What is the meaning of this "something objectionable" that a husband would find in his wife to justify divorce? The conservative school of Rabbi Shammai said it meant only a case of scandal, like adultery. The liberal school of Rabbi Hillel said it meant any case of annoyance, "even if she has burned his supper." And the even more liberal school of Rabbi Aqiba said that the woman did not have to be guilty of anything in particular; that the man simply no longer fancied her was enough reason for divorce. This was a trap because if Jesus took sides with one school of thought, he would antagonise himself with the others.

Homily: Twenty-Seventh (27th) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (October 4 2015)

Theme: The Dignity of Marriage  

It was not quite long ago that a friend was narrating to me, the difficulties her sister was passing through in her matrimonial home. After revealing a lot of horrible experiences the sister had undergone, I asked her what she would do if she had been in her sister’s shoes. She said she will know what to do but never gave me a specific answer. I further asked her what advice she gave to the sister and she said “to divorce him”. It was an interesting chat but I was eager to know her sister’s disposition in the marriage. From what I learnt, the said sister accepted her condition in good faith and prefers to die in her matrimonial home to a divorce.

In our society today, it seems to me that most of the divorce cases are not championed by the spouses themselves but by relatives and friends of the spouses. A closer look at the present society will also reveal an increasing rate of divorce. As a matter of fact, the dignity and sacredness of marriage is fast washing away. This is because marriage is regarded as a social or business contract that could begin or end whenever and anyhow one pleases. This was perhaps the concept of marriage in the minds of the Pharisees who came to question Jesus in the gospel reading (Mark 10:2-16). It was a test because they wanted to know Jesus’ concept of marriage and know if it was in opposition to popular tradition or the Mosaic tradition. The popular tradition held that a Jewish husband could divorce his wife by pronouncing a divorce formula three times in the presence of two male witnesses (called the triple express system). But the Mosaic tradition held that the husband could only divorce his wife with a letter of divorce (writ of dismissal). 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Homily for 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B – By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, CSSp

Homily for 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B – By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, CSSp

Numbers 11:16-17,25-29, James 5:1-6, Mark 9:38-43,47-48

-          on the Gospel - Let God Be God

Ned goes over to see his neighbour who has a very ferocious-looking dog. As Ned approaches the door the dog begins to bark wildly and his neighbour says to him, "Come on in, Ned! Don't be afraid of my dog. You know the old proverb: A barking dog never bites." "Yes," replied Ned, "I know the proverb, and you know the proverb, but does your dog know it?" Before we have an agreement on when a dog can bite and when it cannot, we must first make sure the dog is party to the agreement. In the same vein, any attempt by humans to legislate on where and through whom God can act or cannot act is nothing but a futile attempt to limit God. For God cannot be limited.

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Sixth (26th) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (September 27 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Sixth (26th) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (September 27 2015)
Theme: Appreciating the Good from Another  

Last week I travelled to Port Harcourt to see a friend. One evening, we decided to take a stroll down the street. Along the line, something caught my fancy. There were serious and loud shouts of prayer booming from heavy public address systems at three strategic places close to each other. It was like a competition venue and the noise suggested a heavily crowded congregation, but I was surprised to see only three persons in each of the small churches. Sincerely, they had good public address systems which many Catholic Churches here in Nigeria do not have. I wondered why they should possess such good gadgets while so many Catholic Churches that are heavily populated still battle with faulty microphones and speakers. Simply put, I must confess that I was jealous and angered with their development.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Homily for 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B - By Fr. Munachi E. Ezeogu, CSSp

Homily for 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B - By Fr. Munachi E. Ezeogu, CSSp
Wisdom 2:12,17-20, James 3:16-4:3, Mark 9:30-37
- on the Gospel

Biblical scholars have discovered in Bible stories a pattern which they call “the younger child motif.” They found that in stories that have to do with two brothers or two sisters, it is almost invariably the younger one who emerges as the hero, the good guy, the one who laughs last. Starting from the story of Cain and Abel, through those of Ishmael and Isaac, Esau and Jacob, Joseph and his brothers, David and his brothers, Adonijah and Solomon, Leah and Rachel, the prodigal son and his elder brother, to that of Mary and Martha, we find it is usually the younger sibling who ends up more at peace with God and people. It is hard to make sense of this biblical pattern, but a theory put forward by Carl Jung seems to help.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Fifth (25th) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (September 20 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Fifth (25th) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (September 20 2015)
Theme: Achieving Greatness through Humility 

I had a funny experience during one of my apostolic works. I was posted to work in a parish and in the compound where I lived, there were lots of children. One afternoon, three children gathered beside my window and were making some arguments. They didn’t know I was around. They were arguing over who was my most beloved friend. The first claimed to be my most beloved friend because I gave her a gift the day she sang well. The second claimed that I always call her pet names while the third claimed that he was my companion who accompanies me during home visitations and other apostolate. They almost fought because of this but I wondered what brought about the argument. I could not but laugh at them.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Fourth (24th) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (September 13 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Fourth (24th) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (September 13 2015)
Theme: Who is Jesus Christ for You?

Examinations are important aspects of the learning process. It is always important to examine students to know how much they have learned and how far they can apply what they know to concrete circumstances. In today’s gospel reading (Mark 8:27-35), Jesus considered it wise to examine his disciples on what they know about him. The question was “Who do people say I am?” The disciples gave him the common conception among the people: “John the Baptist,” they said “others Elijah; others again, one of the prophets.”  Jesus went further to ask them: “But you, who do you say I am?” To this question Peter replied: “You are the Christ.”

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Third (23rd) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (6th September 2015)

Theme: He Makes the Deaf Hear and the Dumb Speak

In today’s gospel reading (Mark 7:31-37), Jesus was confronted with a pathetic situation of a man who was deaf and dumb. Out of pity, he manifested his power to heal all types of infirmities by healing the man. The man’s healing was dramatic as St Mark records it: “He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle.  Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, “Ephphatha”, that is, “Be opened”.  And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly”. This gospel narrative fulfills in practical terms, the promise of the first reading (Isaiah 34:4-7). God through the Prophet Isaiah promised to visit the people of Judah: “Look, your God is coming, vengeance is coming, the retribution of God; he is coming to save you”.  Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deaf unsealed, then the lame shall leap like a deer and the tongues of the dumb sing for joy.” Jesus became the fulfillment of this messianic prophecy just as we saw in the gospel reading. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Second (22nd) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (August 30 2015)

Reflection/Homily: Twenty-Second (22nd) Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B (August 30 2015)
Theme: Observing the Laws of God

Two missionaries were sent into a remote area for evangelization. They went out daily to preach to people on the streets. They shared their experiences together and went along well. After some time, one started getting jealous of the other because he attracted more followers and got more converts. This began affecting their relationship and mission negatively. Soon, the jealous one grew much hatred for the other that he would not discuss anything with him again. Yet, the jealous missionary was very meticulous in his mission work which he performed with much devotion and piety. He would preach, pray, sing and exhort like a perfect missionary but he would record no success. 

One day, the other missionary fell ill and begged the jealous missionary to help him buy some medications but he refused because he wouldn’t want to miss a prayer meeting beginning in the next few minutes. Later at night, he also begged the jealous missionary to let him know when it will be 5am the next morning and he accepted. At 5am the next day, the jealous missionary wrote on a piece of paper “It is 5am” and dropped it beside the other missionary’s pillow and went for morning prayer because he could not afford to break the silence before communing with God.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Homily/Reflection: Nineteenth (19th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (August 9 2015)

Homily/Reflection: Nineteenth (19th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (August 9 2015)
Theme: “The Eucharist: Food for Pilgrims”.

Stella and Sandra were two sisters who fell in love with two brothers Dickson and Thomas. All were from poor homes and were orphans. The two brothers decided to assist the two sisters who were more helpless, with the intention of having them as life partners afterwards. Dickson was a sales boy and used his salary to send Stella who was blind to a special school for the blind. Thomas was a truck pusher and used his daily wages to pay Sandra’s school fees. After some years, both girls graduated from school and became comfortable with good jobs. When the brothers initiated their marriage proposal, Stella wished she could see if only for a day, the face of the guy who changed her life and destiny. 

Eventually, one day, someone donated a pair of eyes to Stella and after the eye transplant, she saw. She saw Dickson but was disappointed to realize that he was also blind. She refused to marry him because she couldn’t afford to marry a blind man. Dickson later sent her a note which read: “I caused you joy but you caused me sorrow. Please take good care of my eyes because I sacrificed them that you may see me”. Sandra also refused to marry Thomas because he was a truck pusher. She couldn’t imagine herself as a graduate marrying a truck pusher. She appreciated Thomas’ sacrifices but preferred to marry a graduate. Both brothers were tired of life and thought it was better to have died than experience this.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Homily/Reflection: Eighteenth (18th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (August 01 2015)

Homily/Reflection: Eighteenth (18th) Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B (August 01 2015)
Theme: “I am the Bread of Life”.

Recently, I attended a function organized by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in which so many invited less privileged people were fed and empowered. My experience at the event brought to light the extent of poverty, hunger and disease that have enveloped the masses. When it was time to feed them, none of them wanted to be starved and so they were scrambling for food. Most of them hadn’t eaten for days and some even had no hope of the next meal, but they were thankful they had something for that day. But the funny part of the story was that the next day, a greater number of them stormed the scene of the event presuming there would be another feast for them only to be disappointed with the empty spaces. 

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. 

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