Friday, July 30, 2021

Fr. Martin Eke, MSP - Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - August 1, 2021

Homily of Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B, 2021

Exodus 16:2-4, 12-15; Psalm 78:3-4, 23-24, 25, 54; Ephesians 4:17, 20-24; John 6:24-35

While the Israelites were journeying through the desert to the Promised Land, God provided them with food for their soul and food for their body. God gave them his commandments as food for their soul. And as we read in today’s first reading, God gave them manna and quail as food for their body. Since the human body is made of material and spiritual components, God warned the Israelites, “It is not by bread alone that people live, but by all that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). The same warning is for us today.

In last Sunday’s gospel reading, Jesus, miraculously, fed five thousand men. The men were so excited that they wanted to carry Jesus off to make him king, but Jesus knowing their frivolous intention withdrew from them (John 6:15). Jesus’ action is a message for those who cheat and kill others in order to acquire power or ascend to positions. In today’s gospel, the crowd did not relent. They searched for Jesus and found him across the sea. That became a teachable moment with which Jesus confront the restive crowd, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him the Father, God, has set his seal” (John 6:26-27). Unfortunately, many people who claim to be Christians do not seek for Jesus as the sign that leads to righteousness and salvation. They look for him to be filled with ‘miraculous loaves.’ This, perhaps, explains why ‘miracle centers’ and ‘prosperity gospel churches’ are in vogue.

Why do the people love the American gymnast, Simone Biles? Is it because she wins gold; or because she is a human being? If people love her because she is a human being, the love is genuine. If people love her because she wins medals, the love is frivolous.

Our earthly life’s journey is like the Israelites’ journey through the desert. God provides us earthly food for our physical sustenance. For our spiritual life and nourishment, God provides us the “Bread of God;” the Word made Flesh, Jesus Christ.

The readings help us to understand that no matter the possessions we accumulate; we will never be satisfied if Jesus is not at the center of our life. Grumbling like the Israelites is a sign that Jesus is absent, and a sign of insatiable desire. But if Jesus is at the center of our life, we are satisfied with what God provides for us. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (John 6:35). St. Paul says, “The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). St. Paul warns us in the second reading that without Jesus our desires are futile and deceitful.

When we sing the song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hand,” we are, indeed, affirming the words of Jesus in today’s gospel, “For on him the Father, God, has set his seal.” This means that in Jesus, God has placed his tag, his emblem, and his authority on us. In Jesus is our identity, approval, and security. Without Jesus, we fall apart. Jesus reminds us in John 15:5, “For without me you can do nothing.”

One would have imagined that considering the world’s scientific and technological advancement, the world would be happy and peaceful. But, since the world is moving farther and farther away from God, there is so much anger and crisis everywhere. Scripture says, “For the Lord has a dispute with the inhabitants of the land: There is no fidelity, no loyalty, no knowledge of God in the land. Swearing, lying, murder, stealing and adultery break out; bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore, the land dries up, and everything that dwells in it languishes” (Hosea 4:1-3). God laments through Prophet Jeremiah, “Two evils my people have done: they have forsaken me, the source of living waters; they have dug themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jeremiah 2:13). Surely, these passages describe the distressed situation in almost everywhere.

In Ephesians 2:14 St. Paul says that nothing else is our peace but Jesus Christ. Blaise Pascal is quoted to have said, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each person which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”

Jesus commands us in the gospel, “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” Unfortunately, there are people who acquire wealth, position, and power through sinful means. Such people do not care about the food that endures for eternal life. They do not care about integrity, legitimacy, and legacy. They live by bread alone and work only for food that perishes. For us, it is not so. We pray that by the power and seal of Jesus, our work brings us enduring reward here on earth, and eternal reward in heaven. Amen.

Fr. Martin Eke, MSP

Friday, July 23, 2021

Fr. Augustine Inwang, MSP - Homily for the Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - July 25, 2021

  Readings: 2 Kings 4:42-44; Eph. 4:1-6; Jn. 6:1-15

Hunger - our No.1 Enemy

1.     David St. Clair, in the Translator’s Preface to the Book ‘Child of the Dark’, by Carolina Maria De Jesus, wrote: “Carolina is not really the main personage in her diary. It is a bigger character – Hunger. From the first to the last page, he appears with an unnerving consistency. The other characters are consequences of this Hunger: alcoholism, prostitution, violence, and murder.” A common adage states that “A hungry man is an angry man.” Therefore, it will be right to say that a hungry person cannot hear the word of God. Preaching the gospel and feeding the poor must always go hand in hand.  To this point St. James admonished, “If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it?” (James 2:14-17). No matter our position in life we must eat and feed those who depend on us. Without food we have no strength to work and without strength we cannot be productive.

2.     Today’s first and gospel readings address hunger. Elisha fed 100 people with 20 barley loaves. His servant did not understand how that could be possible. But Elisha relied on and trusted in God and his word and thus a miracle became possible. We must give what we have to God, trusting that he can work a miracle with it to his greater glory. What we have is a gift from God; he will accept what we give him to better the lives of others. In the gospel, Christ fed five thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish. Christ used the contribution of the young man who was willing to give what he had to him so that he could use it to feed others. We see in this the foretaste of the heavenly banquet, that describes God’s care for humanity.

3.     Though the readings describe how people were fed, we should not see this as a provision of material food for our bodies alone. God can use others to feed his people. He tells us that those who are charitable will be rewarded with eternal life, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.” (Mt. 25:34-36). The readings rather refer to our spiritual hunger that only God can satisfy. Only God can fulfill our souls’ desires and satiates our thirst. Eat my flesh and drink my blood and you will live forever. There are many rich people who have more than enough money and the material things of this world and yet are not happy. There seems to be an opening in their hearts that only God can fill. They must seek God who can guarantee their happiness. And so, the Psalmist tells us “The hand of the Lord feeds us, he answers all our needs. The eyes of all look hopefully to you, and you give them their food in due season; you open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.” (Ps. 145).  

4.     Material fulfillment of our needs is temporal. Like Jesus tells the Samaritan woman, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (Jn. 4:13-14). This is what the bread of life offers us - everlasting fulfillment of our needs. And so, like the Samaritan woman, we beg Christ, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may not be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.” (Jn. 4:15). The food that Christ gives will strengthen us on our pilgrim journey here on earth. For it is not a mere meal but spiritual food – His Body and Blood. This is what we celebrate at Mass every day. Christ reminds us, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn. 6:51). It does not matter the number of people who are hungry, the food prepared by Christ, after giving thanks, will be enough for everyone and there will be leftovers.

5.     Like Christ broke the bread of his body and shared among many, may we too become the bread that is broken to feed others. We pray that we may live “With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:1-6). And when we receive Christ in the Eucharist may we recognize that it is his Body, Blood, and Divinity that we receive for our salvation and for the redemption of the world. Amen.


Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP.


Fr. Martin Eke, MSP - Homily for the Seventeenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - July 25, 2021

Homily of Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B, 2021

 2 Kings 4:42-44; Psalm 145:10-11,15-18; Ephesians 4:1-6; John 6:1-15

 According to Leviticus 2:12-15, the first-fruits were to be offered to the Lord. It was in the observance of this Jewish custom that the man in the first reading brought to Elisha twenty barley loaves of first-fruits and fresh ears of grain. Elisha had one hundred prophet apprentices (sons of the prophet) who were in training to become prophets. Elisha directed his servant, Gehazi, to give the offering to the sons of the prophet to eat. Gehazi, believing that the offering would not be enough objected, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” Elisha repeated his instruction that the loaves be given to the people; and Elisha prophesied, “For thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.’” The reading concludes that the men ate and there were some left over as prophesied by Elisha.

When Jesus raised the idea of feeding the five thousand people, his disciples objected too. Philip questioned Jesus, “Where can we buy enough bread for them to eat. … Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” Andrew wondered, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many.” After Jesus blessed the five loaves and the two fish, the five thousand people ate and the left over filled twelve wicker baskets.

The readings teach us that God multiplies the little we are willing to share with one another. Let no one say, “What I have is insignificant; no need presenting it.” Let us be like the man in the first reading who brought the offering to Elisha. Let us be like the boy in the gospel reading who brought five loaves and two fish. Let us allow God to use us as he used the man and the boy. It means that if we are generous and faithful with the little we have, much comes out of it because God steps in to bless and multiply it.

We can see in the readings that neither Elisha nor Jesus produced what the people ate. It was the little that was available and generously offered that God blessed and multiplied. There is no blessing and no multiplication where people are unwilling to share. What use is a person’s wealth if the person does not allow God to bless other people with his or her wealth? What use is a person’s talent and knowledge if the person does not share them with other people?

When we observe what the second reading calls “unity of the spirit” and “bond of peace,” that is, come together and combine resources and efforts, much is achieved. The achievement that results from unity of the spirit and bond of peace is a form of ‘multiplication of loaves.’ The evidence of such multiplication of loaves are seen in families, communities, parishes, associations, and organizations where there is unity of the spirit and bond of peace. Many institutions and establishments grow to enormous size due to some individuals who come together in unity of the spirit and bond of peace, contribute, and combine their resources. The positive contributions of such institutions and establishments to the economy of their country and wellbeing of many people is a form of ‘multiplication of loaves.’

In the Gospel, Jesus instructed his disciples to, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” By this, Jesus teaches us that it is wrong and sinful to be wasteful. It is unfortunate and sad to see so much wastefulness in our society. In some countries, there is so much accumulation and hoarding of wealth by the political and economic rulers while the citizens are impoverished and hungry. This is wrong and sinful. There are, also, some clergy men and women who accumulate and hoard so much wealth while neglecting the poor. In fact, some of the clergy men and women enrich themselves with extorting from the poor and the feeble minded. This is wrong and sinful. There is so much wastage in some parts of the world while millions in other parts of the world die from impoverishment. This is wrong and sinful. If what is hoarded, wrongly accumulated, and what is wasted are distributed to the needy, poverty will reduce to the barest minimum all over the world, and millions of lives saved.

Also, eating or drinking more than the body requires, wasting food, dumping or trashing usable items, acquiring and hoarding more than necessary, spending and purchasing unnecessarily, extravagance, laziness, and so on are types of wastefulness. They are wrong and sinful. Jesus instructs us, “Gather fragments leftover, so that nothing will be wasted.” O Lord, grant us a generous heart and the spirit of sharing, and deliver us from the demons of greediness and wastefulness. Amen.

Fr. Martin Eke, MSP

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Fr. Martin Eke, MSP - Homily for the Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - July 18, 2021

Homily of Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year B, 2021

 Jeremiah 23:1-6; Psalm 23:1-6; Ephesians 2:13-18; Mark 6:30-34

 The time Jeremiah prophesied in Israel was a time of religious and moral crises. The political rulers and religious leaders were deep in corruption and injustice. The poor were neglected and oppressed. The true God was no longer worshipped with seriousness. Worship of foreign gods became a common practice. In the first reading, Jeremiah confronted the rulers and leaders for their derailment: “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the flock of my pasture - oracle of the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, against the shepherds who shepherd my people: You have scattered my sheep and driven them away. You have not cared for them, but I will take care to punish your evil deeds” (Jeremiah 23:1-2).

 The first reading, accurately, captures the disturbing picture of the situation today in crises ridden countries like Nigeria. The rulers in the crises ridden countries destroy and scatter the people and drive them away. Hundreds of thousands of people are dying of sickness, hunger, poverty, and violence. Thousands of people are fleeing their homelands and many are dying across deserts, in seas, and in prisons. Thousands of people are forced to surrender themselves to the humiliation of being refugees in foreign lands. We continue to pray and wait for God’s promise: “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have banished them and bring them back to their folds; there they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear or be terrified; none shall be missing - oracle of the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:3-4).

 We pray for religious, economic, and political shepherds who will be a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy; the days when righteous and just rulers reign and govern wisely, and when the people will dwell in security (Jeremiah 23:6).

 We pray for religious, political, and economic shepherds who will be “Repairers of Broken Walls, and Restorers of Streets and Dwellings” (Isaiah 58:12); the shepherds who have the mind of Christ, who break down the dividing wall of enmity and establish peace; who preach peace to those far off and peace to those who are near (second reading, Ephesians 2:14-18).

Unlike the wicked shepherds during the time of Jeremiah, when Jesus saw the vast crowd, “his heart was moved with pity for them, for they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.” We pray for religious, political, and economic shepherd who are compassionate in their leadership.

We pray, too, that we become a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy since, in one way or another, we have leadership roles in our homes, relationships, churches, associations, work places, and responsibilities. Wherever and whatever leadership role we find ourselves, we pray to have the mind of Christ and be “Repairers of Broken Walls, and Restorers of Streets and Dwellings,” and be able break down dividing walls of enmity and establish peace.

Wherever and whatever leadership role we find ourselves, we pray to govern wisely and be compassionate. Without compassion, we cannot govern or judge wisely. That is why Jesus tells us to “Be compassionate just as your Father is compassionate” (Luke 6:36).

We conclude this reflection by praying together the beautiful psalm of today, Psalm 23:

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.

In green pastures he makes me lie down;

to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul.

He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

your rod and your staff comfort me.

You set a table before me in front of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Indeed, goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life;

I will dwell in the house of the Lord for endless days.


 Fr. Martin Eke, MSP

Friday, July 2, 2021

Fr. Augustine Inwang, MSP - Homily for the Fourteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B - July 4, 2021

 Readings: Ezekiel 2:2-5; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Mk 6:1-6.

The Thorns in Our Flesh may Be Strength from God.

1.     We often think that whatever we are going through in life may be peculiar to us alone. We may even think that God is punishing us by inflicting us with sickness, loss or deprivation. At times we may think that others are more blessed, prosperous or better endowed than us. This explains why we may be jealous or envious of other’s good fortunes, like their marriage, positions, beauty, status or family. These feelings, though very human, may be very far from the truth. For though all lizards lie on their bellies, no one knows which among them has stomachache. Or like Shakespeare would say in Macbeth, “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.”

2.     Today’s readings present us with life’s unpleasant realties. Ezekiel felt unworthy, when sent to preach to a rebellious people. “I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day. Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they who I am sending you.” (Ez. 2:3-5). Preaching to a rebellious people is already very unpleasant, but terrible when the messenger feels unworthy. For the prophet, the thorn in his flesh is the burden of preaching to a rebellious people. But the grace of God made it possible for Ezekiel. “The Spirit entered into me.” We must rely on help from above if we are to deal with the problems of life. Hence, in the Psalm we pray, “Our eyes are fixed on the Lord, pleading for his mercy.”

3.     In the second reading, Paul, a successful preacher is blessed from above. He “Was caught up into Paradise and heard ineffable things, which no one may utter.” (2 Cor. 12:4). But he had life’s unpleasant realities too. “That I, Paul, might not become too elated, because of the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan, to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9). Paul’s weakness humbled him. We do not know what Paul suffered from, but it made him as human as any of us. Paul discovered that his pains did not change the way God felt about him. He was loved in spite of his brokenness, weakness, shortcomings and limitations. Our weakness are reminders of how much God loves us for we are thorns in God’s flesh. “God created man in his image; in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen.1:27).

4.     Like Paul and Ezekiel, other prophets also had their share of thorns. Isaiah was unworthy, “Woe is me, I am doomed! For I am a man of unclean lips, living among a people of unclean lips.” He was cleansed: “Now that this has touched your lips, your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” (Is. 6: 5-8). Jeremiah was too young, “Ah, Lord God!” I said, “I know not how to speak; I am too young. Say not, “I am too young.” (Jer. 1:6-7). Moses was a reluctant prophet. He had many excuses, but God insisted that he was the right person for the job. He told God that he was not a good speaker, “If you please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past, nor recently, nor now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and tongue.” God reminded Moses who he was, “Who gives one man speech and makes another deaf and dumb? (Ex. 3:4-4: 17). Christ was willing, but he was rejected by his people, as we read in today’s Gospel. “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! and they took offense at him.”

5.     We all have our share of thorns. Some are caused by us while others are brought on us by people. How do you handle your thorns? The truth, like the music tells us: “When your day is night alone, if you feel like letting go (hold on) if you think you’ve had too much of this life, well hang on, cause everybody hurts, sometimes, everybody cries, sometimes.” You are not alone! Many times, we are burdened by our thorns. Be it rejection, sickness, death, broken heart, drugs, money problem, bad marriage, debt burden, fear, sexual orientation or whatever it may be. Like Jesus, we may be rejected by our parents, children, bothers, sisters, spouses, co-workers, friends, peers and even church members. They may not get pass their knowledge of you to the new you. God is not punishing you it is what it is, a thorn in your flesh. This may be strength from God, so don’t quit, hang in there and trust in God. You may pray about it for as long as you have, but the thorn is still there. Listen to Paul: “Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:8-9). God does turn anyone away from himself. No matter how many people reject you, God is always there for you. For “We know that all things work for good for those who love God.” (Rom. 8:28). God bless you. Amen! Happy 4th!

Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP