Friday, 27 April 2012

Homily/Reflection: Fourth (4th) Sunday of Easter Year B (April 29 2012)

                                                        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.

Christ the Good Shepherd: Christ is the Good Shepherd that laid down his life for us his flock. His life was not lost at death but was used to transform our spiritual death into life and today through him we receive every spiritual and physical blessing.


Friday, 20 April 2012

Reflection/Homily: Third (3rd) Sunday of Easter (April 22 2012)

              Theme: The Journey from Redemption to Salvation

After the fall of Adam, there was a big gap between God and man. Man could no longer find his way back to God because he was blindfolded by sin. He wallowed in darkness looking for a meaningful existence but could not find any being outside of God’s presence.

Filled with pity and love, God initiated a plan to bring man back to Himself, a plan that would involve a two-staged journey. He decided to begin the first stage of this journey with His only Son about two thousand years ago.

The first stage which was accomplished by Christ with his passion and death was intended to prepare man for the final stage which he has to accomplish by himself. The first stage of the journey was from sin to redemption and the second stage was from redemption to salvation.

The redemption brought by Christ destined us for salvation. Our repentance from sin prepares us for salvation and our reconciliation with God and our neighbour draws us closer to our salvation.

Thus, in the first reading (Acts 3:13-15,17-19), Peter explains to the Jews how they could use this redemption brought by Christ to work out their salvation through repentance and reconciliation.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Reflection/Homily: Second (2nd) Sunday of Easter (April 15 2012)


Theme: Witnessing to the Gospel in Faith and Love

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 an empirical 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?

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Reflection/Homily: Easter Sunday (April 8 2012)


Theme: Now that Christ has risen!

For the past forty days, we have been journeying with the Lord to Calvary. This journey was not easy. It was both a physical and Spiritual Journey. It demanded a lot of sacrifice and penance. At the beginning of the Holy week, there was a great tension as we began to meditate on the passion of Christ. At the Triduum, the tension was greater when Christ entered into his passion and death.

This tension caused despair and disappointment among his friends. They could not believe his death nor understand why Christ had to die with all his powers. His arrest, condemnation, passion and death were like a dream for them. They were sure of the several times he miraculously escaped from the wicked crowd. They could not understand why this time he had to allow himself to be taken over so freely. They were afraid and disappointed. They thought all about him has been forgotten for he has been defeated.

In this state of disappointment, Mary of Magdala came to announce that Christ’s body was missing as we saw in the gospel reading (Jn. 20:1-9). Peter and John ran to the tomb to discover the empty tomb.
With this, they were more confused for as the gospel records, they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead. But reading further into today’s gospel, we find the clarification of their doubts and the clearing of their confusion that Christ was not missing but that he had been risen.

Awakened by the joy of resurrection, Peter went out to announce the Good News of Christ Jesus as we saw in the first reading (Acts. 10:34,37-43). He spoke with authority and explained the mystery and mission of Christ to his audience. The Good News he preached became the first public post-resurrection testimony about Christ.

Reflection/Homily: Easter Vigil/Holy Saturday (April 7 2012)


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.

Tonight, we see the restoration God is making. He is making all things new for those who love Him. He is restoring us from death to life, from sickness to health, from poverty to riches and most importantly from sin to righteousness. This is the night of liberation, when God liberates us from the shackles of sin, of condemnation, of determinism and from hopelessness.

Reflection/Homily: Good Friday (April 6 2012)


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 direction. 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.

In the first reading (Is. 52:13-53, 12), we see a picture of the suffering servant, a pre-figure of Jesus who through his suffering and death will cleanse and save the world. This suffering servant is the sacrifice offered for the forgiveness of sins. In the passion narrative (Jn. 18: 1-19:42), we see the manner and form in which this sacrifice was offered.

The story line of Jesus’ passion and death is an old and familiar story. Every action is significant and points towards our redemption and salvation. This evening, we shall reflect on the significance of Simon of Cyrene in the passion narrative and on the significance of the burial of Jesus.

The Significance of Simon of Cyrene in the Passion Narrative: The gospel records that on his journey to Golgotha, fearing that Jesus would die before reaching there because he could scarcely walk, the soldiers mandated Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross behind our Lord. Simon of Cyrene is a reflection of an ideal Christian life – that of carrying the Cross. It is not only christian to carry one’s cross but more christian to carry one another’s cross. 

It is because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that we are saved and he wants us to reciprocate by sacrificing 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Reflection/Homily: Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper (Holy Thursday) 2012

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. 

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 points 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).

Beloved brothers and sisters, today we experience rancor and discord not just among Christians but

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