Saturday, February 20, 2021

Fr. Emmanuel Megwara, MSP - Homily for the First Sunday of Lent Year B - February 21, 2021

DATE : 21/2/2021, the First Sunday of Lent (B)

 EVENT : Mass of the Sunday (Solemnity)

 COLOUR:Violet

 READINGS : Gen. 9:8-15; Resp. Psalm 24:4-6,7-9; 1Pet. 4:18-22; Mark 1:12-15

 THEME: TRIALS AND TEMPTATIONS REVEAL WHO WE TRULY ARE

    Greetings beloved people of God. I welcome you to "My Catholic Homily Digest". On this First Sunday of Lent, I wish to reflect with you on the theme: " Trials And Temptations Reveal Who We Truly Are". Beloved, it is often said that trials and temptations are parts and parcels of our lives here on earth. Hence to be alive and not experience either or both of them is nearly impossible. Thus learning to cope with and come out victorious from every form of temptations, should be the greatest concern of any serious individual. For whatever trouble or temptation that cannot destroy you, will surely leave you a lesson and a better person. Because tough times do not last but tough people do. Beloved, in the various readings of this first Sunday of Lent, the Church wants us to reflect on our attitude towards trials and temptations and see how we can turn such opportunities into sources of salvation and channels of grace.

     In the first reading of today, we heard how Noah and his entire house hold were saved from the destructive flood, having confronted and overcame the trials and decadence of their era. Thus, despite the temptations of the time, the destructive flood and dangers all around, the family of Noah emerged unscathed. The devil could not harm him, for he responded and allowed the Holy Spirit to direct him. More so, we see the deceptive work of the evil one more concretely in the Gospel reading of today, Mark 1:12-15. We are told that Jesus was led by the Spirit to the wilderness where after fasting for forty periods, he was tried and tempted by Satan. And unlike our first parents, Adam and Eve, who fell to the temptations of Satan, Jesus triumphed and conquered him. And then the angels of God came to minister and wait on him. Listen dear friends, the devil is a good strategist, he does not waste his energy on an already won battle. He knows how to strategize and where to shoot his shots. He knows that this is a season of Lent, a time of grace, spiritual resistances, mercy-seeking, resolutions, prayers and mortifications. He also knows that he has to double his efforts, to map out new pitfalls and release his full artilleries. So, we must be ready, resolute and stand on emergency alerts so as to resist the devil in whatever ways he may disguise himself.

           As Christians, our faith is not measured by the battles we wage at favourable times, but by the battles we confront at unfavourable moment. As we begin this season of Lent let us brace up, seek the help of the Holy Spirit, and try our best to emerge victorious with Christ at Easter. For it is the final outcome of our Lenten observance that will determine what kind of followers of Christ we truly are.

       Oh that today you would listen to his voice harden not your hearts (Ps.95:7-8)

 LET US PRAY : Lord Jesus, help me to remain steadfast in my resolutions and grant me the grace to overcome all the assault of the enemy this period of Lent

The Lord be with you....... and with your Spirit.

 May Almighty God bless you in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit......Amen

 

   HAPPY SUNDAY BELOVED FRIENDS.

  @ Fada Emmanuel Nnamdi Megwara, MSP.

Fr. Michael Osatofoh Eninlejie, MSP - Homily for the First Sunday of Lent Year B - February 21, 2021

FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT YEAR B

Genesis 9:8-15

Psalm 24:4-6,7-9

1 Peter 3:18-22

Mark 1:12-15

RENEW YOUR COVENANT WITH GOD

Today being the first Sunday in the season of Lent, we reflect from the first reading on the covenant God made with us from the very beginning after he had saved the family of Noah from the flood. God decided never to destroy the world again with water but to continue his plan for our salvation. This is why he called Abraham and his descendants and sent moses and the prophets to liberate the people of Israel.

St Paul tells us that the greatest covenant God has with us is the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh. The coming of Christ assures our salvation. We also have been baptized into Christ and our sins have been washed away not our bodily dirt. This is why St Paul tells us in the second reading that baptism now saves us from evil and sin.

In this lenten season, we are to try and keep our own part of the covenant. We are to avoid living as pagans who have no moral judgement and live lives of lack of self control, lies, anger that leads to sin, stealing, lack of generosity, empathy and sympathy, and an unforgiving heart (Ephesians 4:17-32). This is why we are called to fast, pray and give alms during this lenten season to boost our spiritual growth.

In the gospel reading, we see how Jesus was tempted by the devil, the same way we are tempted daily in different ways. We are tempted when we are most vulnerable just as Jesus was tempted when he was hungry. Many of us fall easily to temptations and are not able to fulfill our promises not to sin again.

We pray for the grace of God to keep our promises to be attuned to him and not to sin again. God help us. Amen.

Fr Michael Osatofoh Eninlejie, MSP

Fr. Augustine Inwang, MSP - Homily for the First Sunday of Lent Year B - February 21, 2021

 

                   Readings: Gen. 9:8-15; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mk. 1:12-15 

The God of a Second Chance - Are you on God’s Side?

1.     In the first reading God said to Noah and his sons, “See, I am now establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you…that never again shall all bodily creatures be destroyed by the waters of a flood.” (Gen.9:8-11). A covenant is an agreement entered into by two people with a promise and commitment to each other. It marks the relationship and the expectations they have for one another. God always made a covenant with his people in the Old Testament and enjoined them to remain faithful to Him while he would be their God, always providing and protecting them. God is faithful to his promises.

2.     The passage in Genesis speaks of a covenant God made with Noah and his sons after the disastrous flood. This new covenant demonstrates that the first one in Genesis 1:28-30, where God commanded Adam and Eve to go and multiply and fill the earth, was shattered by human sinfulness. “When the Lord saw how great was man’s wickedness on earth, and how no desire that his heart conceived was ever anything but evil, he regretted that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was grieved. So the Lord said: “I will wipe out from the earth the men whom I have created, and not only men, but also the beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the air, for I am sorry that I made them.” (Gen. 6:5-7). The flood was seen as the divine reaction to the human rejection of God. But there was a note of hope, for “Noah found favor with the Lord.” (Gen.6:8). So with Noah and his descendants God made a new covenant, but this time around, God demanded nothing from Noah, but promised what he will do for his people while asking nothing in return. According to Peter in the second reading, the covenant between God and Noah’s family prefigured baptism which is God’s pledge to us of salvation and eternal life.

3.     With this covenant, God seems to have said to Noah, now the past is done with, “Let us forget the past and forge ahead together. We will begin anew with peace between myself and humankind and, indeed, between myself and all creation. The rainbow will be its sign.” “Through the rainbow, God shows that he wants to be connected to his creation – all of it – in such a way as to create confidence in him and peace among his creatures…Light and darkness, wind and fire, water and earth, the tree and its fruit speak of God and symbolize both his greatness and his nearness” (CCC 1147). The new covenant includes all creatures, showing that God makes all things good, and in the end, all creation will be transformed (Rom. 8:18-22). This bond between God and us and all of nature is a mark of this new beginning.  

4.     Lent invites us to begin a new relationship with God. “Come now, let us set things right, says the Lord: though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool.” (Is.1:18). Lent is God’s second chance to humanity. Do we always give a second chance to people who wrong us? Temptation and sins are roadblocks to a healthy relationship with God and one another; but like lovers’ quarrel that is capable of renewing love, we can strengthen our relationship with God by removing those blocks from our paths. We are invited to enter into a new covenant with God and rediscover the outpouring of God’s grace into our hearts on the day of baptism. God is always true to his covenant; we must be true to ours as well. What about temptation and sin?

5.     The Gospel of today presents us with the temptation of Jesus. We are not immune from the same temptation. Temptation comes in many ways. We may be tempted to be something that we are not, to assume the personality and status we don’t deserve. The attraction to this kind of life may turn us into liars, egoistical and proud. We may begin to think that we are everything to everyone as such our services to God, the church and humanity may become sterile and shallow. We may even forget why we do the things we do. Mother Theresa told Father Le Joly, a Jesuit priest who was writing a book about her “Father, when you write a book about me, tell everybody we are not here for work, we are here for Jesus. We are religious not social workers, or nurses, or teachers; we are religious Sisters. All we do, our prayer, our work, our suffering, is for Jesus. He gives me strength. I love Him in the poor and poor in Him. Without Jesus our life would be meaningless…incomprehensible…” If what we do is not done for Jesus our work is nothing more than false spirituality; and our work will draw us away from the covenant of God. Therefore, the Psalmist cries out, “Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name give glory.” (Ps. 115:1). Let me conclude with this reflection from Fr. Eugene Maly, “What is important for us is not so much that we actually do during this Lenten season, whether it be attending daily Mass, visiting the sick and the elderly more often, or foregoing some special pleasure. All these are fine. But what is essential to Lent is our resolve to begin anew. One thing is certain: God’s covenant love is here to strengthen and comfort us.”  

Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP

 

Friday, February 19, 2021

Fr. Martin Eke, MSP - Homily for the First Sundy of Lent Year B - February 21, 2021

Homily of First Week of Lent Year B, 2021

Genesis 9:8-15; Psalm 25:4-9; 1 Peter 3:18-22; Mark 1:12-15

 The first reading tells us about God’s covenant with Noah. I think that what Noah did after surviving the flood contributed to God’s covenant with him. Scripture says, “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and choosing from every clean animal and every clean bird, he offered burnt offerings on the altar. When the Lord smelled the sweet odor, the Lord said to himself: Never again will I curse the ground because of human beings, since the desires of the human heart are evil from youth; nor will I ever again strike down every living being, as I have done. All the days of the earth, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:18-22). The entire first reading contains details of God’s covenant with Noah. Noah did not take his surviving the flood for granted. He built an altar to the Lord and offered sacrifice. Noah’s gratitude, thanksgiving, and putting God first earned him God’s covenant. This teaches us the power of gratitude, thanksgiving, and putting God first. May we be able to offer God sweet smelling sacrifice. May God smell our sacrifice and renew his covenant with us. Amen.

 I still remember the impressive way my catechism teacher, years ago, presented the story of Noah. He said that Noah warned his country people about the impending rain and flood as a result of their sinful life; but they did not believe him. They preferred their worldly and sinful life. When the rain and flood came, they all perished.

 As Noah warned his country people to repent of their sins (according to my catechism teacher), Jesus warns us in today’s gospel, “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). St. Paul writes in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus Christ is the new Noah’s ark that lifts us up to safety and leads us to God (second reading, 1 Peter 3:18). Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).

 The readings invite us to soul-searching. Am I, stubbornly, engaged in a behavior or behaviors that if I do not disengage from, would ruin my life, my faith, my career, my business, my finance, my family, my vocation, my position, my job, my marriage, my future, and so on? When St. Paul says that the wages of sin is death; sometimes, it could be bodily death; but most of the time, it is spiritual death, especially the ruin a person brings upon himself or herself. 1 Peter 3:15 says, “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation…” Many people take God’s patience for granted at a very high cost as Noah’s country people did. Let us make hay while the sun shines. Let us catch the dark skinned goat before nightfall. Today, we hear the Lord calling; let us not harden our hearts (Psalm 95:7). Let us not be wise in our own eyes (Proverbs 3:7). “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in the eyes of God, for it is written: ‘He catches the wise in their own ruses,’ and again: ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain’” (1 Corinthians 3:19).

 The Lenten Season is one of the special times God invites us to come back to the source of our salvation. It is a season of grace and a season of repentance.

 In today’s gospel reading, the Spirit drove Jesus into the desert where he was tempted by Satan. Jesus was among wild beasts, but the angels ministered to him. In the same way, we are in all kinds of deserts; and encountering all kinds of trials and temptations. We are among all kinds of dangerous and prowling wild beasts. We pray God to send his angels to minister to us, and guide us to triumph over trials, conquer temptations, and strengthen us to survive the prowling of every dangerous wild beast. Amen.

 Fr. Martin Eke, MSP

Friday, February 12, 2021

Fr. Augustine Inwang, MSP - Homily for the Sixth Sunday in Ordinary time Year B - February 14, 2021

 Readings: Lv. 13:1-2, 44-46; 1 Cor. 10:31-11:1; Mk. 1:40-45 

No One Has Ever Loved Me Like You Do.

1.     Imagine being in a dire situation, desperately waiting for assistance. And then someone comes around, gives you a helping hand and changed your lot for good. He provided for you and made sure that you will never again be in want. What would you say to that person? I guess you would say “Thank you so much. No one has ever showed me love like you do.”  

2.     The first reading described the deplorable condition of lepers. “If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch which appears to be the sore of leprosy, he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest.” (Lv.13:1). According to Fr. Robinson, “Without the sophistication of modern medicine, the term “leprosy” was applied to almost any kind of skin disease: such as ringworm, psoriasis, eczema, and leprosy itself. Anyone so afflicted with such diseases was required to avoid contact with anyone else lest the disease spread to the whole community. A ‘leper’ could not work, go to synagogue or temple, or visit his or her family. Usually a ‘leper’ ended up living in caves or tombs alone or in a colony with other lepers.”  It was the duty of the priest to declare a leper unclean. Such a person was then cast out of the community.

3.     The leper in today’s gospel knew his dire and deplorable situation. He knew that he was not to come out in public or come near anyone, even Jesus. He dared it all the same. He had no other option than Jesus who says, “I am the way the truth and the life.” (Jn.14:6) Again, “Come to me all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28). He was courageous, bold and hopeful. He must have heard about Jesus; that he was compassionate, kind, merciful and caring. He approached Jesus, went on his knees and made his request. “If you wish, you can make me clean.” (Mk. 1:40). His prayer was simple. He surrendered himself and entrusted his sickness into the hands of Jesus. His faith was in God; he was hopeful that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, he saves those whose spirit is crushed.” (Ps. 34:18-19). Because “Those who trust in the Lord are like mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.” (Ps. 125:1). His prayer was the prayer of Jesus, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” (Mt. 26:39). This is how Jesus taught us to pray: “Your will be done on earth as is in heaven.” (Mt.6:10).

4.     There are two instances that stand out for me in the bible, among many others, that Jesus touched and transformed people and left them speechless. The first is the woman caught in the act of committing adultery. She was condemned to death; her accusers were waiting with stones in their hands. The law of Moses commanded it, and they were ready to obey. But Jesus uttered those magic words “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw stone at her.” (Jn. 8:7). With that, the woman was brought back to life from the brink of death. She was grateful to Jesus and praised him with every fiber of her being. Oh “No one has ever loved me like you do.”

5.     The second is the leper in today’s gospel. We heard the prayer of the leper and also heard those magic words again from the lips of Jesus: “I do will it. Be made clean.” (Mk. 1:41). And “The leprosy left him immediately, and he was made clean.” (Mk. 1:42). Then Jesus warned him sternly, ‘see that you tell no one anything, but go, show yourself to the priest.’ Jesus rescued the leper from isolation, disgrace, pains, distress, rejection and emptiness. Mark Links captured the situation thus: “The leper’s life was a living hell. People hated the sight of him, and he, in turn, hated the sight of himself.” The Psalmist describes his wretched condition. “Those who know me are afraid of me; when they see me in the street, they run away…I am like something thrown away.” (Ps. 31:11-12). But the Lord removed from his mouth, the words we heard from Job last week, “I shall not see happiness again.” (Job 7:7). Instead, the leper would say “I waited, waited for the Lord, who bent down and heard my cry. He drew me out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud of the swamp, set my feet upon rock, steadied my steps.” (Ps.40:1-4). I can imagine the leper, now made clean, saying “No one has ever loved me as you do.”

6.     Today is Valentine’ day, technically called, lovers’ day. Jesus is the one lover we all need, who will never disappoint us. We are fragile people living in a broken world. But like St. Paul in the second reading, we know that “We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair…and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed…For this reason we never become discouraged.” (2Cor. 4:8-9,16). We seek to fall in love with a lover who loves us more than anyone else. We are lepers excluded from the community because of our sins. We must show ourselves to the priest in the sacrament of reconciliation so that he may restore us to wholeness and reconcile us to God and to one another. God bless you!

Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP