Saturday, January 19, 2019

Fr Martin Eke, MSP - Homily from 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time year C, Jan. 20, 2019

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
Last Sunday, the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, was the first Sunday in the Ordinary Time. Our reflection focused on the feast. Part of today’s reflection, therefore, is on the meaning of the Ordinary Time in the Catholic Church’s liturgical seasons. The Ordinary Time refers to those periods that fall outside of the major liturgical seasons. The present segment of the Ordinary Time continues until Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The Church uses green vestments during the Ordinary Time. Green is the color of life, renewal, energy, growth, health, fertility and safety. These meanings of green color are Church’s prayers for each one of us. On the meaning of Ordinary Time Jeffery Mirus writes, “If the faithful are to mature in spiritual life and increase in faith, they must descend from the great mountain peaks of Easter and Christmas in order to pasture in the vast verdant meadows of tempus per annum, or Ordinary Time.”

The background of the first reading is that when the Jews returned from Babylonian exile (538B.C.), they found Jerusalem in ruins. Its temple, walls, and houses were razed to the ground. Desolation was everywhere. The sight of this left the returnees in distress and despair. God sent Prophet Isaiah to console the people. God promised through Isaiah: “I will not keep silent. I will not be quiet… You shall be called by a new name pronounced by the mouth of God… You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the Lord. A royal diadem held by your God… No more shall people call you ‘Forsaken,’ or your land ‘Desolate,’ but you shall be called ‘My Delight’…” As we begin a new year, these words and promises are for each one of us, especially for any one in desolation due to events of life.

It is relevant at the beginning of the year that St. Paul reminds us in the second reading that God has blessed each of us with spiritual gifts for the benefit of all. St. Paul names some of the spiritual gifts: wisdom, knowledge, healing, prophecy, discernment, varieties of tongues and interpretation of tongues. There are many more gifts. Our spiritual gifts are not supposed to be hidden. They are supposed to be shared. As we begin a new year, we are invited to resolve a better way of sharing our spiritual gifts for the benefit of as many people as possible. God makes promises to us in the first reading. But then, God’s promises come to fulfilment through the power of God’s Spirit working in us, and as we share with one another God’s gifts. We do not expect the fulfilment of God’s promises if God’s Spirit is absent or inactive, and when we do not share God’s gifts with one another.

Again, the Gospel is very relevant for our reflection as we begin a new year. One can only imagine how the wedding would have continued with no wine. The Gospel says, “the mother of Jesus was there [and] Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding.” The role Mary played in saving the couple from confusion and embarrassment is very important. She said to Jesus, “They have no wine.” Jesus replied and clearly stated that his hour had not yet come. But, because Mary interceded for the couple, the hour of Jesus began that moment. Then, he changed water into wine.

Mary instructed the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” The servers filled six stone jars with water as Jesus directed them. I wonder what was going on in the minds of the servers as they filled the stone jars with water. It would have been absurd for them to be told to fill stone jars with water when the problem was lack of wine. Nonetheless, they followed Mary’s and Jesus’ instructions. The servers’ obedience to Mary and to Jesus enabled the miracle. The servers’ obedience teaches us to trust Jesus even when from human reckoning it is meaningless to trust. Had the couple not invited Jesus and Mary to the wedding would not have had a happy ending. This passage, also, teaches us that where Jesus and Mary are invited ‘wine’ will never run out. Let us invite them, through our prayers, to everything that is going on in our life. Mary is the Mother of Perpetual Help. Her powerful intercession opens doors of Divine Mercy.

To recap, (1) The green vestments of the Ordinary Time symbolize life, renewal, energy, growth, health, fertility and safety which the Church wishes us. If we are to mature in spiritual life and increase in faith, we must pasture in the Words and Sacrament of the Ordinary Time. (2) God’s promises come to fulfilment through the power of God’s Spirit working in us, and as we share God’s gifts with one another. (3) Trust Jesus even when from human reckoning it is meaningless to trust. (4) ‘Wine’ will never run out where Jesus and Mary are invited.

Fr. Martin Eke, MSP

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from 1st Sunday of Advent year C, December 2, 2018

There’s something compelling about a promise. When you promise something to someone, you’re giving part of yourself. When someone you trust promises that they will come through for you, you don’t feel alone. The Bible is filled with God’s promises to us. What does God promise? Not wealth or success or a life free from suffering. He promises us a person. “The days are coming says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made…  I will raise up for David a just shoot; he will do what is right and just in the land. In those days Judah shall be safe…” Jer 33:14-15. God is promising us his personal presence that we can see and touch. In Lk 21:25-36, we see the fulfillment of God’s promise in a person, Jesus Christ. Jesus is God among us. God has come through for us. God is with us. Do we really believe this? Sometimes our hearts can get drowsy. Jesus warns us about this. When our hearts grow drowsy we lose sight of the promise. We can get caught up in cares of this life, and forget God’s promise. We can lose sight of the fact that being a Christian means a living relationship with a person, Jesus Christ, who fills our hearts with joy. That’s why the Church gives us Advent. Advent is a gentle wake-up call, a 4 week period to prepare our heart for Christmas. It’s a time to believe in God’s promise to give us true purpose and joy in Jesus Christ. God will never give up on us. He is the same patient and compassionate God yesterday and today. Shalom!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Saturday, December 1, 2018

Is there anything which holds you back from the joy and freedom of the Lord? God wants our hearts for him and for his kingdom. But our hearts can be weighed down by many anxious cares and fearful concerns, or by harmful addictions and sinful habits. Jesus offers us true freedom – freedom from the power of sin and a wasted life – wasting ourselves on harmful or useless things which keep us distant from God. Jesus offers us freedom from our disordered passions and unruly desires – such as making food, drink or other things our master rather than our servant. And Jesus offers us freedom from the power of crippling anxieties and needless, cares, and being overwhelmed by fear or doubt. Jesus wants our hearts to be ruled by one thing only – his love which has power to undo any sin and trouble in our lives. Let’s examine ourselves and pray, "Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus" (I Cor 16:22).
As we joyfully begin the Golden Month of December, filled with the happy expectation of the celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of Jesus, may the Lord Jesus Christ come into you and your family anew. Shalom!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Fr Martin Eke, MSP - Homily from 1st Sunday of Advent year C, December 2, 2018

Homily of First Sunday of Advent Year C
The meaning of Advent Wreath: Circle symbolizes eternity of God. Green wreath symbolizes life everlasting. Candle light symbolizes Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Four candles in circle symbolize the four weeks of Advent. 1st purple candle symbolizes hope. 2nd purple candle symbolizes peace. 3rd pink candle symbolizes joy. 4th purple candle symbolizes love. Purple color foreshadows the royalty of Jesus. For Advent, purple is not a sign of suffering and mourning as in Lent. The 5th white candle in the middle represents the birth of Christ.
This Sunday marks the beginning of the Advent Season and a new liturgical year. We are, now, in Cycle C. Advent is observed in the Catholic Church as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Ordinarily, almost everybody, Christians and non-Christians alike, prepare for the celebration of Christmas. Business establishments started their preparation for Christmas business deals months ago. There is, usually, so much external preparation. For us Catholics, spiritual preparation is more important. When you are expecting a visitor, you will get your house in order, you will get food and drink ready, and you will also be clean and well dressed. If the house is in order, and food and drink well prepared and arranged, but the host appears unkempt and shabby, the visitor will be embarrassed and may not stay for the meal. That is why spiritual preparation is necessary, so that there will be an inn for Jesus in our life this Christmas. Spiritual preparation makes every Christmas become the first Christmas. As part of the spiritual preparation, there will be an Advent Penitential Service on Monday, December 17, 2017, at 6:30pm.
The theme of the first week of Advent is hope. Hope means trust, faith, and confidence for a desire to happen. Our ultimate hope and desire is that through our spiritual preparations during the Advent we will experience the blessings of the commemoration of the birth of Christ. St. Paul tells us that this type of hope does not disappoint (Romans 5:5).
A lesson Jesus teaches about waiting in Luke 12:37-38 comes to mind, “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants.” In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that while waiting, our hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life. Rather, we should be vigilant at all times and pray for strength.
In our hopeful waiting, St. Paul prays for us in the second reading, “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all… so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before God and Father…”
While we are waiting in hope for a new experience of the birth of Christ, the first week of Advent requires us to become instruments of hope to others. We are to share love with them and strengthen their hearts as St. Paul prays in the second reading. As Jesus is the hope for humanity, we, his followers, are to be signs of hope to our brothers and sisters. It is by so doing that the season of Advent properly begins. The prayer of St. Francis says, “Where there is despair, let me sow hope.” This is our prayer and action point this week.
Fr. Martin Eke, MSP

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Friday, Nov. 30, 2018

Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him Matt 4:22. Our careers often demand much of our time and attention. But Jesus has an interesting way of interrupting our business-as-usual agenda. In fact, He invites us to join His business. Notice the sequence of His statement to the fishermen: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). We are tempted to think that we should make something of our lives and at the same time follow Jesus. Wrong! He calls us first to follow Him, and then He makes something of our lives. He leads us to prioritize so that we see the needs of people and their eternity as the goal of all our endeavors. And while God may not require you to give up your career, following Him will guarantee that you will never see your career in the same way again. Where you “fish” is not important. But if you follow, you must fish. What are you waiting for? Drop your nets, follow Him, and let Him make something of your life. Drop your nets and follow Jesus. Shalom!

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018

Affiliating with Jesus and being His disciple implies a lot of things and one of them Jesus stated in Luke 21:12-19, “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony.” Are you ready for such circumstance in your life? Or are you about to jump ship and give up your faith in our Lord Jesus? Our Lord has assured us that He will always be by our side. It may not be within our own strength to suppress the sensible fear which we inherit from our fallen nature but with Jesus in our hearts He gives us the grace so that fear may not take possession of our will and effectively paralyze our acts. With God’s grace, we can go through any trial or persecution and all human strength can only amount to nothing but mere weakness. Keep the faith amidst any adversary as Jesus will always be there to defend us!  He is our Defender and Counselor and He will set us free in any difficult situation if we speak and act His truth. Shalom!

Monday, November 26, 2018

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018

In Luke 21:5-11, Jesus says to those who are speaking in admiration of the beauty of the temple, “All that you see here – days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” They will all come tumbling down, one way or the other… “Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.” In all these, Jesus exhorts us to remain faithful in our relationship with Him despite the adversities and trials that inhabit our lives. He wants us to be on the alert as people will be great impostors and will claim to be the true christ. Jesus said: “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them!” Be careful about whom you listen to and whom you follow and to whom you pledge your allegiance. Jesus wants us to remain faithful as He is faithful and unchanging…as He said: Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Jesus may allow our lives to be turbulent and filled by trials but He wants us to remain focused on Him and to follow Him no matter how the strong the stormy winds of life may blow against us. Shalom!