Saturday, December 4, 2021

Fr. Augustine Inwang, MSP - Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent Year C - December 5, 2021

Readings: Baruch 5:1-9; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11; Lk. 3:1-6

Preparing for Christ the Baptist’s Way

 1.    Last week, we read from Jeremiah, who prophesied during the Babylonian exile. He encouraged the Jews to be hopeful because God “Will raise up for David a just shoot.” Today his secretary, Baruch, continued with that vision of hope and restoration for the Babylonian exiles. He promised them: “Jerusalem, take off your mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the miter that displays the glory of the eternal name.” Baruch saw that God would visit his people and bring them home again with glory. “Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones.” They must go through the desert where John the Baptist waits with the warning of repentance.

2.    The children of Israel had to pass through the desert to learn the way of the Messiah. John was not the first person to make the inward journey through the desert. Many prophets before him and after found God by way of the desert. Moses discovered God in the desert. The Israelites were taught obedience and submission in the desert, where they wandered for 40 days and 40 nights. David fled his son Absalom into the desert and sought God’s protection. After the conversion of St. Paul, he went into the desert to seek clarification for his newfound faith and discovered his mission. Mohammed encountered Allah in the desert. Many monks and hermits spent a life of penitence and prayer in the desert. John the Baptist lived, prayed, and preached there as well. There he urged people to repent and prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus Christ, St. Luke reports, was led by the Spirit into the desert, where he encountered God in preparation for his mission. These men saw in the desert a place of refuge from the distraction and noise of everyday life. They did not run away from the world but went into the desert to better prepare to face the world.

3.    The desert is a dry and unforgiving place; it exposes everyone there to the elements in their raw form. According to William Bausch: “You are as close to the edge of life and death as you could possibly be. No excess, no luxury, no illusions in the desert, just a total, vast, harsh emptiness. You live in total dependence, from hand to mouth, from day today. There are no distractions, no television sets, no microwaves, no cars, no nothing. Everything becomes intensely focused on the bare facts of existence, of yourself, and of God. There is just you – your utter, complete self and the vast emptiness of the desert. And the challenge the desert offers is this: what will you find there? Will you find God? If not there, then nowhere else.” It is fitting that John calls us to prepare for the coming of the Messiah by way of the desert. Here we will be humbled by the desert experience and find the Messiah. Then we would say with the Psalmist, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.” To say this, however, we must be ready to do a few things right.

4.    We must listen to the voice crying in the wilderness telling us to “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” We have many mountains in life to either climb or bring low. Coronavirus and its mutable variables are daring us daily. A few months ago, it was the Delta variant, and now it is the Omicron variant. Can we ever get rid of this mountain? The only way to bring it down is through vaccination, booster shot, or whatever directives CDC gives us. This mountain has stopped many people from going to Mass; it must come down.  We must bring down the mountain of laziness in prayer or doing other religious activities. Let us also work on our mountain of pride and arrogance. We must fill in the valley of cluttering by learning to do with less and giving away the superfluous. There is nothing to distract us in the desert, so we should do more with less and grow rich spiritually. Let go of too much and give them away, and you will find joy with the Messiah. There are also the winding roads in our life that we must make straight. Dishonesty, lies, corruption, gossip, hateful and malicious speeches, names calling in high places, and uncharitable behaviors are some of the crooked paths we must make straight. To make straight the winding road for the Messiah, we need proper tools. Prayer and wonderful sacramental life, springled with ample water of charitable acts, coated with the bitumen of forgiveness, mercy, and compassion, are the machinery needed. These would help us create a reconstructed road for the Messiah to pass into our hearts. Hence, John the Baptist calls us to repent. He urged us to have a change of heart, adopt a new way of doing things and see things differently. And so, I join St. Paul in the second reading to pray “That the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

5.    I pray with St. Paul “That your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” Amen.

Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP


Friday, December 3, 2021

Fr. Martin Eke, MSP - Homily for the Second Sunday of Advent Year C - December 5, 2021

Homily of Second Sunday of Advent Year C, 2021

Baruch 5:1-9; Psalm 126:1-6; Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6

We light the Candle of Peace on the second Sunday of Advent. We pray that the preparation and the celebration of this year’s Christmas bring peace to our hearts, homes, communities, country and the world. So much violence is going on in our country and in many parts of the world, causing unimaginable suffering on people. Since, we Christians, believe in the power of prayer, we continue to pray for peace in our country and in all the troubled parts of the world. On our individual level, let us try to be instruments of peace wherever we find ourselves. “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

The first reading is Prophet Baruch’s prophecy of hope and encouragement to the Jewish people who were in exile in Babylon. Not only that God would return them to their land, God was going to restore the city of Jerusalem and make it new. Baruch prophesied that God would remember his people; robe of mourning and misery would be taken off from them and be replaced with cloak of justice. God was going to command lofty mountain be made low and age-old depths and gorges be filled to ground level to make the return of the people of Israel easy. On the way through which they would return to their land, God would create forest and fragrant kind trees to provide shade for them. Baruch prophesied that God would lead Israel in joy by the light of his glory, and his justice would accompany them.

We pray that this prophecy be fulfilled in the life of many who are in misery and wearing mourning robe. May the mourning robe be replaced with cloak of justice. May God make a way where there is no way. May God protect and provide, and in his mercy shine the light of his glory on his children and restore their joy. Amen.

Our reflection on the importance of the spiritual preparation for Christmas which we began last Sunday continues today. While the first reading is our prayer of deliverance from affliction, the second reading and the gospel are God’s invitation to us to repentance. The gospel invites us, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and rough ways made smooth” (3:4-5). The way and paths of the Lord are the way and paths through which God comes and dwells in our hearts and lives. The mountains, hills, winding roads and rough ways are our weaknesses, excuses, resistances, and sins that restrict God’s entrance and dwelling.

St. Paul writes in the second reading, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). These are words of encouragement from St. Paul to the Philippian Church community. Not only that the Philippian Christians were persecuted, the Christians themselves were disunited. St. Paul wrote to encourage them to persevere in the good work God began in them.

The day of Jesus Christ is the day Jesus Christ will take us to our eternal home. But while still in this life, God has begun good work in each of us. God does not continue the good work all alone without our generous participation. St. Augustine of Hippo says, “He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.” In the same understanding, Algernon Sidney says, “God helps those who help themselves.” We pray that we may cooperate with God’s graces so that the trials and challenges of life do not hinder the good work God began in us from continuing.

Some people bring to an abrupt end the good work God began in them. In Revelation 2:4-5, we read, “I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first.”

Some people, due to lack of knowledge, perception, and discernment miss opportunities of good work God gave them. St. Paul in the second reading prays for each of us that our “love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value…” (Philippians 1:9-11).

Let us pray:

Gracious God, in my life are weaknesses, sins, temptations, trials, and challenges. They are the valleys that need to be filled, mountains and hills that need to be made low, winding roads that need to be made straight, and rough ways that to be made smooth. Through the graces of this sacred season of your favor, grant me knowledge, perception, and discernment not to fail at my moments of valleys, mountains, hills, winding roads, and rough ways; so that you and I will continue the good work you began in me; until the day of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Fr. Martin Eke, MSP

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Fr. Martin Eke, MSP - Homily for the First Sunday of Advent Year C - November 28, 2021

 Homily of First Sunday of Advent Year C, 2021

 Jeremiah 33:14-16; Psalm 25:4-5, 8-10, 14; 1 Thessalonians 3:12-4:2; Luke 21:25-28, 34-36

 Many churches are decorated with the Advent wreath from this first Sunday of Advent. The Advent wreath is a Christian custom which is said to have originated among German Lutherans in the 16th century. Later, German Catholics adopted the custom, and from Germany the custom spread to North America and other parts of the world.

 The meaning of Advent wreath: Circle symbolizes God’s infinite love. Green wreath symbolizes hope of eternal life brought by Jesus Christ. Four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. Candle light symbolizes the light of God coming into the world through the birth of Jesus Christ. 1st candle, purple in color, symbolizes hope. 2nd candle, purple in color, symbolizes peace. 3rd candle, pink in color, symbolizes joy. 4th candle, purple in color, symbolizes love. Purple color symbolizes the penitential spirit of Advent season. Some Advent wreaths have a 5th candle, white in color, in the middle of the wreath called Christ candle which symbolizes 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 a season observed in the Catholic Church as a time of special soul searching and spiritual reawakening to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means ‘coming.’ Advent season is a journey of preparing and welcoming the Word Made Flesh to renew his dwelling in each person and in the world.  

 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 are 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.

 The theme of the first week of Advent is hope. Our ultimate hope and desire is that through our spiritual preparations during Advent we will experience the blessings of the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy in the first reading, “I will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land” (Jeremiah 33:15). This Christmas, let us become a receptive land where the Lord’s righteousness and justice will bloom.

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. 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…” (1 Thessalonians 3:12). As Jesus is the hope of humanity, we, his followers, are to be signs of hope to our neighbors. 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.

The words of Jesus in today’s gospel was his prophecy about the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans which took place in 70 AD. However, Jesus’ words capture the tribulations in the life of many of us, and around the world. The Covid 19 Pandemic, wars, insecurity, killings, poverty, migration, refugee crises, unrests, persecution, and so on put all of us in fright and in dismay, and many people are dying. But Jesus warns us not to allow our hearts to be overtaken by worldly life and anxieties. Rather, we should be vigilant at all times and pray for the strength to escape. He encourages us to stand erect and raise our heads because our redemption is at hand.  

Some spiritual steps to a good Advent season:

·       Participate in parish Advent season spiritual exercises such as retreat, prayer, Penitential Service, and so on.

·       Make Advent season spiritual resolutions to be closer to God.

·       Go to Confession.

·       Attend additional Masses along with Sunday Mass.

·       Make peace with those difficult relationships.

·       Do works of charity.

·       Be devoted to the Word of God and to private prayer.


We wish one another a fruitful and Spirit-filled Advent season.

Fr. Martin Eke, MSP

Fr. Augustine Inwang, MSP - Homily for the First Sunday of Advent Year C - November 28, 2021

 Readings: Jer. 33:14-16; 1 Thess 3:12-4:2; Lk. 21:25-28, 34-36

 Be Prepared; Be Alert.

1.    I find the gospel reading of this first Sunday of Advent fascinating. Jesus said: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” In a nutshell, we should not allow these signs and cosmic upheaval to distract us from our Lord. We must, therefore, be prepared for Christ and see death as a welcome passage to everlasting life. 

 2.    There is much happening in the world that is enough to frighten the daylight out of us. There is so much violence, anger, greed, hatred, corruption, and complete disregard for human life. We read and watched with great anxiety, revolutions, insurrections, religious conflicts and persecution, the reckless killing of Christians in different parts of the world that make us wonder if the end of the world is at hand. We watch with anticipation how prices of foodstuff continue to skyrocket, and the pump price of gas is always on the increase, and we wonder if we will have enough to see us through the month with our stagnated income. We worry about our future and that of our children. We often wonder if God is still with us. Three weeks ago, we reflected on the theme that you never live well if you are afraid of death. That is the truth!

 3.    Let us not forget that the Jews lived through a period not entirely different from our own. They, too, had their share of suffering, pains, persecution, destruction, and intimidation during the Babylonian exile. It was the worst time of their lives. Jeremiah lived through this period, too; he witnessed both the destruction of Jerusalem and the sacred temple, their pride, and the sign of God’s presence for them. He lived through this horrendous period, but his hope in God was so strong that he prophesied that God was still with his people. He reminded them that God “will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days, Judah shall be safe, and Jerusalem shall dwell secure.” As God was with his people in the past, he would indeed protect his people now. Therefore, there is no reason to be afraid. Christians should be alert, hold their heads high and welcome the Lord whenever he comes to take them home. 

 4.    Advent is a period of waiting anxiously for the coming of the Messiah at his birth. During the four weeks of Advent, we stay in hope and not in fear. For the Lord comes to rule the earth and render justice to those unjustly oppressed. At Advent, the Church also anticipates the second coming of Christ when he comes to judge the world with righteousness. St Peter tells us what to do while we wait. “Therefore, beloved, since you await these things be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.” (2Peter 3:14). Therefore, a Christian must always be prepared to meet the Lord. “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.” (Lk 12:37).

 5.    The four weeks of Advent are penitential days that should aid us in preparing for the Lord. We are not to worry about material preparation for the birth of Christ, as important as that may be. The Lord comes for our hearts, and he wants to dwell in our souls. Let us be men and women of prayer. You have heard me talk about this almost every Sunday. We cannot profess to be good Christians if we do not have a healthy prayer life. We must be regimental when it comes to praying. Find a suitable time for your daily prayer and work it into your schedule. Do you pray as a family? Does your child find you praying at different times during the day? Have you taught them to pray on their own, apart from praying together? What about the rosary? Do you pray together? Teach them the importance of praying the rosary and make it desirable for them to pray with you or on their own. What about your sacramental life? We should go to confession at least two times a year, if not frequently. Advent and Lent are the best times to purify our hearts through the sacrament of reconciliation.

6.    Advent also reminds us to be engaged in sporadic acts of kindness. It reminds us to love one another with sincere Christian love. St. Peter says this about love: “The end of all things is at hand. Therefore, be serious and sober for prayers. Above all, let your love for one another be intense because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1Peter 4:7-10). Do not forget to give in charity since Advent anticipates the outpouring of God’s love on humanity. Christ is God’s love for us. We must show the world that we belong to God by the way we love. Spend time and listen to God speak to you through his Word. Read John’s Gospel, a chapter each day of Advent. May God bless and guide us as we begin this new liturgical year of God’s blessings on humanity. Amen.

Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP


Friday, November 19, 2021

Fr. Martin Eke, MSP - Homily for the Thirty-Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - November 21, 2021 - Christ the King

Homily of Thirty-Fourth Sunday (Christ the King) of Year B, 2021

Daniel 7:13-14; Psalm 93:1-2,5; Revelation 1:5-8; John 18:33-37

The feast of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925, not long after the end of the First World War. The pope established the feast as a statement of faith against the prevailing ideologies of communism and secularism at that time. The two ideologies attempted to exclude faith, religion and God from humanity. This feast is even more relevant to us now that we face many anti-Christian and anti-Catholic ideologies, and all manner of opposition to Christianity and persecution of Christians. By celebrating this feast, we are upholding the teachings of the Scripture and the teachings of the Church; and continue to proclaim Jesus Christ as our leader and king.

The Scripture testifies the kingship of Jesus:

·       “Then Jesus approached his disciples and said to them, ‘All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me’” (Matthew 28:18).

·       “God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord…” (Philippians 2:9-10).

·       The King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15).  

·        The ruler of the kings of the earth (Revelation 1:5).         

·       “The Alpha and the Omega” … “The one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty” (Revelation 1:8).        

·       He is the Lord of lords and King of kings (Revelation 17:14).

Jesus’ disciples never understood his kingship. On Jesus’ last day with them they still asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). In today’s gospel, Jesus makes it clear that his kingdom does not belong to this world (John 18:36). Jesus was not a political king, but a spiritual king. 

Jesus confers the authority of his spiritual kingship upon his followers by declaring in Mark 16:17-18, “These signs will accompany those who believe in my name: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” 

It is with this spiritual power that we can witness Jesus to the world. Jesus can only rule the universe through us if we take up this power and use it. It is with this power we preach the Good News, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, care for the sick, visit prisoners, and drive out demons. 

Christianity has a universal influence on world civilization, discoveries, geography, history, science, medicine, and development than any religion. The birth of Jesus brought about the categorization of world history to “Before Christ” and “After Christ.” The common calendar which is universally used is of Christian origin. From a few people in Judea, Christianity has spread to every part of the world. Out of the world population of 7.9 billion in 2021, the population of Christians is 2.3 billion. This is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Daniel in the first reading, “He received dominion, splendor, and kingship; all nations, peoples and tongues will serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, his kingship, one that shall not be destroyed” (Daniel 7:14). 

Christianity is under attack from those who propagate and enforce anti-Christian and anti-Catholic ideologies and policies. There is so much persecution of Christians in many parts of the world. However, our faith rests on Jesus’ words that the gates of hell shall not prevail against his Church (Matthew 16:18). 

Along with the opposition against Christianity and the persecution of Christians, many Christians are inactive and timid. Many Christians are Christians only in name. The number of practicing Christians have drastically reduced. Jesus says in Luke 12:49, “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” St Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control.” If Christians have the same level of passion seen in the entertainment world, business world, sports, science and technology, and so on, the earth, indeed, would be on fire! 

Through the celebration of today’s feast, we pray that Jesus Christ rules our hearts, and reigns with love, truth, justice, peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation in our lives, homes, businesses, work places, environments, communities, and so on. We pray that we become true ambassadors of Christ who are empowered by the kingship authority he confers on us.  We pray for the rekindling of Jesus’ Spirit and fire in us so that we may blaze and set the earth on fire. Amen.

Fr. Martin Eke, MSP