Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Reflection/Homily: Solemnity of Christ the King (Nov. 22. 2014)

Theme: Christ is our King
At the beginning of the 20th century, an ideology currently known as “secular humanism” was prevalent. This ideology made people believe that they could exist and survive on their own without being assisted by and accountable to any spiritual being.  Everything, for the promoters of this ideology, began and ended in this world, with man as the supreme architect of his own destiny. Unfortunately, many Christians were deceived to accept this belief and they started to live their lives as if God no longer exists. As a result of this, Pope Pius XI in his 1925 encyclical Quas Primas (On the Feast of Christ the King) established the last Sunday of the liturgical year as the Solemnity of Christ the King. The Solemnity was intended to present Christ as the Universal King who rules over all created things, persons and institutions. Many decades after its establishment, the Church continues to celebrate this solemnity to assure us that Christ is still in charge of the universe and to remind us of the need to allow Him reign supreme in our lives and society. This is the background of today’s solemnity.

In the first reading (Ezekiel 34:11-12,15-17), Christ’s kingship is prefigured in the image of the Good Shepherd who tends his flock. Christ is this shepherd who promises to rescue his sheep from every place where they were scattered when it was cloudy and dark. Perhaps, our society have been scattered to the extent that we think it can no longer be remedied, the boko haram insurgence appears to be stronger than God, the political situation of the country appears to be above what God can control, many families are ravaged by hunger, poverty and disease, yet we have continued to look upon Christ as the Good Shepherd. As our King, Christ is telling us never to lose hope because he is still in charge. In the reading he says: “the lost I will seek out, the strayed I will bring back, the injured I will bind up, the sick I will heal, etc.” Christ our King is not unaware of what you are passing through now. He will come at his appointed time to seek you out, restore you to your rightful place and satisfy your good heart desires. Just hold on to him. His justice and mercy could be delayed but never denied. Our King is seated and waiting for us in the tabernacle where he has made his Palace. How often do we visit our King to present our problems, disappointments and sorrows to him?

The Gospel reading (Matthew 25:31-46) presents us with the theme of judgement as an important aspect of Christ’s kingship. As the second reading (1 Cor. 15:20-26,28) puts it, Christ is going to be king until he has put all his enemies under his feet and he will then hand over the kingdom to his Father. Before handing over the kingdom to his Father, he will judge all men according to their deeds. The Gospel reading says he will separate the sheep from the goat. While the just will rejoice, the wicked will suffer and perish. Interestingly, Christ reveals to us in the Gospel reading, his areas of emphasis - to give food to the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the prisoners and to do other spiritual and temporal works of mercy. He would not ask how much theology we have learnt or how pious we have been or how much we donated in the Church or how brilliant we have been in class but how we have manifested our love for God in our dealings with others. He assures us that whatever we do for the least of the brethren has been done for him. 

Beloved friends, today, the wave of secular humanism is still strong in our society. Christians in most parts of the world are being persecuted. Evil seems to triumph over good. Divine laws appear to be at the mercy of civil laws since most states promulgate and enforce laws that contradict divine laws. In the midst of all these, do not lose hope. God is still in charge. He is taking his time. Only be prepared to face his throne of judgement when he appears in glory for that day will be great. Those who recognize him as their King will be saved while those who thought they could do without him will perish. May Christ our King continue to reign in our lives. Amen. Happy Sunday. God loves you.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Reflection/Homily: Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14 2014)

Reflection/Homily: Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14 2014)
Theme: Salvation through the Cross

The feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross celebrates three historic events: the finding of the True Cross by St. Helena, the dedication of the Church built over the Holy Sepulchre and on Mount Calvary by Emperor Constantine and the restoration of the True Cross to Jerusalem by Emperor Heraclius II. According to traditions, St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine travelled to Jerusalem in 326 on a pilgrimage with the intention of finding the True Cross. Along with some aides, she carried out some excavations around the Holy Sepulchre and discovered the True Cross on which Christ was crucified. This discovery was confirmed by some miracles and in honour of this great discovery, her son, Emperor Constantine built Churches at the site of the Holy Sepulchre and on Mount Calvary which were dedicated on September 13 and 14, 335. The anniversaries of this dedication came to be celebrated as the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. Three centuries later, the Persians conquered Jerusalem and their king, Khosrau II captured the True Cross and took it to Persia. In 629, Emperor Heraclius II defeated Khosrau II, regained the Cross and restored it to Jerusalem and ever since then, this restoration of the True Cross became part of the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Reflection for 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Year A)

Sunday 27/07/2014

Wisdom is the ability to make the right decision and the right judgement at the right time. The Gospel reading (Mt. 13:44-52) invites us to always take the right decision. The wise merchant made the right decision to sell all he had in order to buy the pearl of great price. The right decision is that which places God above every other thing. We have to seek what is pleasing to God first because the Bible says, seek first the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness and every other thing will be added to it.

Solomon in the first reading (1 Kings 3:5, 7-12) asked for wisdom, which was pleasing to God. The bible says wisdom knows what is pleasing to God (cf. Wisdom 9:9) and we have to do what is pleasing to God even when it is unpleasant to us. Once we make the right choice by making God our most valuable treasure, we can never regret our decision no matter the outcome because the second reading (Rom. 8:28-30) assures us that all things work for good for those who love God.

We are wise when we abandon every other engagement and go for mass on Sunday but foolish when we think of the time we shall spend in the Church and so miss Sunday mass. Let us like Solomon ask for the wisdom to know and do what is pleasing in the sight of God . Happy Sunday.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Reflection/Homily: Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, (June 29 2014)

Reflection/Homily: Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, (June 29 2014)
Theme: What they are, we can Become

Like every other institution which finds time to celebrate her founding fathers and pillars, today, the Church as an institution celebrates her own pillars upon which the Church was built. Saints Peter and Paul are regarded as the two pillars of the Church because of the great roles they played in the establishment of the Church of Rome which is today, the headquarters of the Catholic Church. Today’s celebration has a tripartite intention. The first intention is to remember and honour them for the great roles they played in the Church, especially in honour of their martyrdom. The second intention is to learn from their examples and the third intention is to ask for their saintly intercession. Though distinct in character and role, the Church celebrates these two Saints together to depict the unity that should exist between Christians irrespective of their differences. 

Uwakwe Reflection is Back Again

Dear Readers,

I apologise, for the break in the publication of my Weekly Sunday Reflections. For several weeks, I battled with the academic demands of my just-concluded final examinations in view of a Bachelor's degree in philosophy. I am happy to have concluded my philosophical formation in Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu and having less academic work for the time being, I hope to devote more time to this blog. Thank you for your sustained interest in my blog. God bless you.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Reflection/Homily: Second (2nd) Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy Sunday (27th April 2014)

Reflection/Homily: Second (2nd) Sunday of Easter/Divine Mercy Sunday (27th April 2014)
Theme: Faith seeking Understanding

Pragmatism is an ideology that evaluates theories or beliefs in terms of the success of their practical application. For instance, a pragmatist will only believe that one is a good cook not when he describes the process of preparing a particular dish but when he actually prepares it well. Pragmatism has permeated every sector of our society and religion has not been spared. In times past, people believed a man of God by the authority with which he spoke, but today, by the signs and wonders he perform. The world wants every theory to be practiced and proved effective before it is accepted. In the gospel reading (Jn. 20:19-31), we see Thomas as a core pragmatist. He did not believe in reasoning but in experience. He never wanted to listen to the event of Christ’s resurrection and appearance but wanted to experience it. He needed a first-hand experience. 

In our religious practices, many of us are like Thomas. We want God to show us everything, to reveal every mystery to us before we believe. We want to see the Eucharist turn into empirical flesh and blood. We want to see a candidate for anointing of the sick rise up immediately after receiving the sacrament. We want God’s blessings and promises to materialize immediately, etc. But have we ever cared to compare our expectation from God and God’s expectations from us? We expect God to be pragmatic, to be practical, but are we also pragmatic in our relationship with God? Can our religious doctrines and beliefs be seen practically in our lives? In the first reading (Acts 2:42-47), we see a good example of pragmatic Christianity. The early Christians followed the teachings of the apostles and the virtues the apostles taught were practically seen in the way they lived. They lived in peace, love and unity and God manifested His presence in practical terms through signs and wonders. As a result, they attracted more believers. Today, their community spirit and practical examples are presented to us as examples to follow.

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.

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