Thursday, February 28, 2019

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Friday, March 1, 2019

Though we be friendly with many, only one in a thousand should be our close confidant, or our partner in life. Sirach opens his mini-essay on friendship with this advice: A kind mouth multiplies friends, and gracious lips prompt friendly greetings. We begin with a smile; our first communication, imparted intuitively, is one of interior joy and peace, showing that we are at peace with ourselves and with God. His guidance is both peaceful and cautious, for he counsels: “When you gain a friend, first test him, and don’t be too ready to trust him.” He proceeds to give the positive qualities of a true friend, who will be like “your other self; a treasure beyond price; a sure shelter a life-saving remedy.”  “A faithful friend is the elixir of life.” He is confident that those who fear the Lord will find a faithful friend. In other words, when we relate well to the Lord we will find the right kind of friends, ones we can rely on. When our relationship with the Lord is right it helps us to form good human relationships, marked by faithfulness and generosity. Whether married or single, we are all called to build faithful friendships that mirror the Lord’s faithful love and in turn reveal to others that faithful love of the Lord. Shalom!

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Thursday, February 28, 2019

We can say that our love for our neighbour has reached its full maturity in Christ from the daily and visible exercise of charity toward our neediest brothers: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink. Our love for neighbour should be an imitation and prolongation of the merciful goodness of God the Father who provides for the needs of all and makes no distinctions whether one is a friend or an enemy. Only when we let ourselves be moved by our neighbour’ impoverished state can one say that we loves God. To be indifferent to those who hunger and thirst is to be closed to Christ and to deny the universal love of our Heavenly Father. Jesus, in today’s Mk 9:41-50, reminds us that every ounce of kindness done in His Name will never be forgotten and will certainly be rewarded. Every act of love will never be unnoticed by the Father if done to give glory to Him. Because we all belong to Christ, the cord that should bind us together should be the bond of His love and compassion. When we truly love our neighbour, then we can say that we love God. Rejoice if you followed God’s commandment of love. Jesus said to his disciples: “Anyone who gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to Christ, amen, I say to you, will surely not lose his reward.” If we imitate Christ and follow His ways, then we have certainly kept Him in our lives and we will be able to live in peace not only with one another but also with ourselves. Shalom!

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Wednesday, February 27, 2019

John and the other Apostles witness someone with whom they were not familiar, doing the very good deed of driving out a demon in Jesus’ name. It’s a somewhat strange image to imagine.  John sees this good act and tries to interfere by asking the person to stop. Then he goes and tells on this man to Jesus, hoping Jesus will intervene. But Jesus does the opposite. "Exclusivism” can be defined as a tendency to think that something is good only when I do it. It’s a form of spiritual greed in which we have a hard time rejoicing in and supporting the good deeds of another. This is a dangerous but all too common struggle for many. The ideal, in our Christian life, is to look for the works of God everywhere and within everyone. We should so deeply desire that the Kingdom of God be built up that we are overjoyed whenever we witness such activity. If, on the other hand, we find ourselves jealous of another for the good that they do, or if we find ourselves trying to find fault with what they are doing, then we should be aware of this tendency and claim it as our sin, not theirs. Shalom!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Benjamin Franklin, the early American statesman, made a list of character qualities that he wanted to develop in his own life. When he mastered one virtue, he went on to the next. He did pretty well, he said, until he got to humility. Every time he thought he was making significant progress, he would be so pleased with himself that he became proud. Humility is an elusive virtue. Even Jesus’ disciples struggled with it. When Jesus learned that they had been arguing about who was the greatest, He responded, “If anyone desires to be first, he should be last of all and servant of all” Mk. 9:35. Then He took a little child in His arms and indicated that we need to humbly serve others as if we were serving Christ. If a news reporter were to talk to our friends, neighbours, or fellow church members and ask them to describe us, would they use the word humble? True greatness does not lie with those who strive for worldly fame; It lies instead with those who choose to serve in Jesus’ name. Humility can be sought but never celebrated. Good morning and you have a great day. Shalom!

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Monday, February 25, 2019

Jesus said, “Everything is possible to one who has faith.” And the father of the boy replied, “I do believe. Help my unbelief.” He believed in Jesus, but he knew his faith wasn’t enough. So he prayed: “Help my unbelief.” That was enough for Jesus to do another miracle of casting out the evil spirit from the boy. It is not necessary that we have great faith. Jesus said that if we have a faith the size of a mustard seed, we can command a mountain to move. But that has to be accompanied by a great deal of prayer. It is only by asking God to help us that our faith will be much stronger. This is what happened to the father of the boy. In contrast, let us look at the disciples. They were trying to cast out the evil spirit from the boy, but they could not. Why? Jesus told them, “This kind could only come out through prayer.” In other words, they were not praying. They were trying to cast out the devil through their own power, without asking for God’s help. It is only through prayer that our faith can grow stronger, and then everything becomes possible. I always like this quotation: “When man works, it is just man who works. But when man prays, God works.” Another quotation says: “The most powerful man on earth is the one who bends his knees and prays.” He who prays without ceasing unites prayer to good works and good works to prayer. Shalom!

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from 7th Sunday in Ordinary Time year C, Feb. 24, 2019

The story of David and Saul in 1Sam 26:2-23, functions almost like a parable. Showing mercy to his deadly foe, David gives a concrete example of what Jesus expects to become a way of life for His disciples. The reading informs us how David had the opportunity to revenge against Saul but chose to spare Saul’s life. At that time when the law was, “eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,” David stood out in showing mercy and forgiveness to Saul who made eleven attempts on his life. David is a perfect example of Jesus’ teaching in today’s Gospel: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To those who strike you on one cheek, offer the other one as well…” A forgiving and merciful state of heart will free us from judging others and make us reconcilers, builders of man as God is. If in prayer we ask God to deliver us and pardon our sins for His Name’s sake and not to deal with us according to our sins, we too should be able to intercede for our neighbor and seek God’s mercy and compassion on them. Forgive as the Lord forgave us. Not as others treated us but as Jesus treated us. If Jesus forgave us for all we have done to hurt Him despite our undeserving state then we too should be able to freely forgive. When we forgive, we are able to take off our judge’s robe and let God be the one to take care of the person who hurt us. His justice will be far superior to any revenge we could have. Shalom!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Thursday, February 21, 2019

In Mark 8:27-33, Jesus and his disciples were traveling between villages when He asked them who they believe He is. “You are the Christ,” Peter responded. But as soon as Jesus begun to describe what it means to be Christ – rejection, suffering and even death – Peter was found ambivalent and cold to what Jesus confided to them as he tried to discourage Jesus from talking about it. In our own life, We are like Peter as we always avoid the most uncomfortable situations. We are not exactly proponent for self denial and self giving neither do I face rejection and pain with an open heart. Today, to be an authentic follower of Christ, we have to do more than just offer lip service. It’s not enough to say I am a follower of Jesus as Peter did but we need to live it and accept all that it means. Jesus took His place among the poor. He chose rejection, suffering and death over power and influence. Today His invitation to all of us is no different. He wants us to pursue a life of self giving and self denial. He is asking us to bear our cross and follow Him. In our hearts let us deny ourselves and allow God to change us according to His plan and let Him perfect our faith. Shalom!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Jesus showed considerateness in bringing the blind man to a place away from the skeptics and gawkers who might dampen his faith and trust in Jesus. Then Jesus did something quite remarkable and unexpected. Mark says that Jesus “spit on his eyes, and laid his hands upon him” Mk 8:23. Jesus physically identified with the blind man’s incurable condition both to show his personal compassion for him and to also awaken faith in him. Jesus then asks the man, “Do you see anything?” The blind man begins to recognize that he can now see a little bit – but his sight is very blurry. So Jesus lays his hands on him a second time to strengthen his faith so he can receive a complete healing. Mark said the blind man: “looked intently and was restored, and saw everything clearly.” His sight was restored in stages as he responded in faith to Jesus’ healing touch and words. Some of us have a tendency to pigeon hole God and put him in a compartment. This leads to seeing him merely as one who fixes things for us or one to whom we go only in need. We might fail to see that he is always there and is much bigger than anything we can ever imagine. Let us pray to God that He touches us deep in our souls and gives us not only the Virtue of doing His will but the Wisdom of knowing it and the Strength of living by it. Shalom!

Friday, February 15, 2019

Fr Martin Eke, MSP - Homily from 6th Sunday in Ordinary Time year C, Feb. 17, 2019

Homily of Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
It is a fact that every action has its result. Good action brings good result and bad action brings bad result. In the first reading, Jeremiah prophesied to the people of Judah what would happen to them if they continued in their sin of adulatory and trusting in human allies. He, also, prophesied the blessings they would receive from God if they trusted in God:
“Cursed is the one who trust in human beings, who seeks his strength in flesh, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a barren bush in the desert that enjoys no change of season, but stands in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth.”
“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters, that stretches out its roots to the stream. It fears not the heat when it comes; its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.”
The people of Judah did not listen to Jeremiah. They continued their sin of adulatory. Their king, Zedekiah, and his officials allied with Egypt; thereby seeking strength in flesh and turning away from the Lord. The result was that King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Judah, destroyed Jerusalem, and carried Judeans into exile. Bad choice begets bad result.
 In the Gospel, Jesus names blessings for those who do what pleases God, and woes for those do who what displeases God:
Blessed (happy, fortunate) are you who are the poor; that is the lowly who walk humbly before God, for the kingdom of God is yours. Blessed are you who are now hungry (for righteousness), for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who are now weeping (in repentance for your sins), for you shall laugh (rejoice). Blessed are you who are denounced and persecuted on the account of your faith in Christ; your reward will be great in heaven.
Woe to those who are ‘rich’ in vices; woe to those who fill and enrich themselves with what belongs to others; woe to those who laugh and derive pleasure from the pain of others; woe to those who are spoken well of and flattered on account of their deceit and hypocrisy. St. Paul, in the second reading, calls those in the ‘woe group’ “most pitiable people of all.”
The first reading and the Gospel bring to mind Deuteronomy 30:15-18: “See, I have today set before you life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the Lord, your God, which I am giving you today, loving the Lord, your God, and walking in his ways, and keeping his commandments, statutes and ordinances… your God, will bless you… If, however, your heart turns away and you do not obey… I tell you today that you will certainly perish…I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, obeying his voice, and holding fast to him.”
The second reading was St. Paul’s caution to some Corinthians who did not believe in the resurrected Christ. Today too, God’s word is mocked, rationalized, rejected, dismissed, and the messengers and believers of the word are persecuted. But for us who are believers, St. Paul encourages us to rise from our sinfulness as Christ rose from the dead, so that we can become as new as firstfruits. We choose life and good and blessing when we rise from our sins.
Nowadays, in the face of our corrupt and violence world, it is difficult to convince many people to remain virtuous. Again, for us believers, the readings and reflection encourage us to continue to persevere in our faith and good work. “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9). “Happy the just, for it will go well with them, the fruit of their works they will eat. Woe to the wicked! It will go ill with them, with the work of their hands they will be repaid” (Isaiah 3:10-11).
Fr. Martin Eke, MSP

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Friday, February 15, 2019

“And people brought to him a deaf man who had a speech impediment and begged him to lay his hand on him.” Mk 7:32. Those people who brought the deaf man to Jesus probably felt that there was not much they could do for their friend.  Most probably that was the very reason why they begged Jesus to lay His healing hands upon their friend. Some of his friends might have hoped for total healing while others may have hoped only for a little improvement to his condition. Some friends may have hoped that even with such condition Jesus could at least give the deaf man some peace in his heart. Today, we may have a lot of friends and family who may need physical and spiritual healing. Our hearts are so concerned for them but there comes a point when there is there is not much that we can do. In reality after we have persevered in praying with them and walked with them hand in hand, all we can do to bring them healing and wholeness, is simply to surrender them to the Lord in prayer. Shalom!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Thursday, February 14, 2019

I’ve always enjoyed the story in Mark 7:24-30, because of the Greek woman’s response to Jesus in the face of an impossibility. She’s a sign of hope for all of us when we’re up against a wall and there seems to be no door through it. Her persistence and her confidence in Jesus, who was known to be a barrier-breaker, were traits that we should copy. At first, Jesus seemed to be saying “no” to the woman’s prayer request, but the woman persisted. Think about the barriers that you seem to be up against. When it seems like our prayers are hitting a hard wall. Is Jesus really saying no? Sometimes he does, but only for our protection, because it would be harmful for us to proceed ahead with our plans. We need to be like the Greek woman who found a clever way around her obstacle. No prayer bounces off a brick wall forever. Find a new angle and keep hitting that wall with more prayers. And when you get tired, take a rest in the Father’s lap. You will reach the breakthrough you need. I guarantee it. I speak from experience. Shalom!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Fr Patrick Etuk, MSP - Homily from Wednesday, February 13, 2019

"From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder,  adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly.  All these evils come from within and they defile.”  (Mark 7: 21 - 23)."

Ultimately we can't blame the devil, upbringing, or society for  the corruption in us. Our Lord tells us sin comes from our hearts. This is not bad news because it means it is within us. It is not beyond us.  We are not puppets but humans created with the power to make decisions. We can do something about the perverse situation of our hearts. Moreso, God is at work in us to make us ever willing and able. When impure thoughts rise in our hearts let's call on the name of Jesus, every knee bows at that name. As often as we invoke that name every stronghold of evil in our hearts will give way.

🙇‍♀A pure heart create for me O God, put a steadfast spirit within me.

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Godliness and righteousness are not matter of externals, but they flow from the goodness of one’s heart. To be acceptable to God is not a matter of compliance to rituals but one that involves cleansing of our inside-our hearts and minds from what is not of the Lord. Jealousy, envy, hatred and pride are among the few that we as Christians should be able to decide to cleanse from our inner being. They mislead us and deceive us with foolish suspicions that we effectively mistrust everyone. We become paranoid that people are ganging up on us and our subsequent reaction is to attack with unfair accusations which are not only unsound but uncharitable and certainly not characteristic of a follower of Christ. They cause us to sin and to spill out impurity…impure thoughts and deeds that are fit only for those who have decided to affiliate themselves with the Enemy. Today let us ask ourselves who invited jealousy, envy, hatred and pride and unforgiveness into our hearts. No one but our sinful nature! This is the reason why change should sincerely start from within us. Shalom!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Tuesday, February 12, 2019

In Mark 7:1-13, the Pharisees and the Scribes see that the disciples of Jesus eat with unwashed hands, and so ask Jesus a question concerning what they consider as defilement. In his response to them, Jesus takes the discussion to a higher plane, by focussing not merely on what defiles or does not defile a person, but on true worship, which stems from the heart. To illustrate his point, Jesus gives the example of Corban, in which the Pharisees’ would dedicate, something to God, and so not allow anyone else including their parents to use it, but would use it themselves. In case others wanted to use it, their answer would be that they could not allow them to do so since it was dedicated to God (Corban)and so belonged to God alone. There are times when we find way and means to get out of fulfilling our obligations to others. We come up with flimsy excuses when we cannot keep a commitment, and try to absolve ourselves of our responsibility. At these times we too can be accused of lip service. Shalom!

Fr Patrick Etuk, MSP - Homily from Tuesday, February 12, 2019

"This people honor me with their lips but their heart is far from me". Mt.15:8

True worship is a matter of the heart, not mere religous observance, an outward show nor an out-pour of emotions.
 A heart free from falsehood, malice and dishonesty is always welcome and acceptable in God's presence. When we fall into sin God is ever willing to forgive us if we acknowledge our faults and are willing to make ammends.  Yet, he can't stand hypocrisy, a deceitful heart, a malicious intent to circumvent his laws and commands, let alone justify our actions when we are clearly wrong. He hates it when we lie in his name, using our religiosity to deceive people for our personal gain.

🙇‍♀A humble and contrite heart O God you do not spurn. All I bring to you this morning is a broken Spirit. Be merciful unto me a poor sinner. Amen.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Fr Patrick Etuk, MSP - Homily from Monday, February 11, 2019

"Whatever villages or towns or countryside he [Jesus] entered, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged him that they might touch only the tassel on his cloak; and as many as touched it were healed."  (Mark 6: 56).

No one who came to Jesus, left empty handed. Anyone who touched him was healed. We desperately need his touch today, we who are often afraid, anxious, broken, wounded, lonely, weak and sick. We don't have to search for him. He has come to us as he went to their towns, villages and farms. He is so within reach for everyone. All we need do is turn to him in faith and we will find solace in him. He will heal us and bind our wounds freeing us from all our ills.

🙇‍♀Lord Jesus, everyone who touched you was healed. Lord, I have assurance that my case will not be different. It is settled as I turn to you this morning. Amen.

Fr Patrick Etuk, MSP - Homily from 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time year C, Feb. 10, 2019

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain". 1cor. 15:10

1. Grace is favour, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life." It is a spontaneous gift from God  "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" that takes the form of divine favor, love, clemency, and a share in the divine life of God.

2. We could do nothing except by God's grace. All our effort will come to nothing, except by his grace. All our good will turn to ill except by his grace.

3. God"s grace is available to everyone no matter the condition of the person. No matter how sinful you are, you are a possible beneficiary of God's grace.  In fact the more miserable we are the greater his love and even his willingness to show us mercy. Paul is a great example. He persecuted Christians and hated them with a passion but God showered him mercy and transformed him even when he did not ask for it.

4. God's grace is not automatic, we must respond accordingly so that his grace will be effective and fruitful in our lives.
 We must tap into his grace. We must position ourselves to receive grace. How?

5. Let us  acknowledge our sins and unworthiness. When Isaiah recognised his faults and humbled himself, God sent his angel to purify him and he was instantly cleansed.

6. We must be available. God's grace Will be fruitful in us when we are available for his purposes, Isaiah says here I am send me. He didn't even know the details and what demands the Lord will make, he simply abandoned himself. Whenever we yield to God we experience the power of his grace. Lord, grant us the grace to yield completely to you. Amen.

7. We must be docile. Being docile is being willing to take instructions from the other, not living according to our own whims and caprices. Paul tells us that the gospel is able to save us if we live by it. This is what Peter did he acted on the instruction of Christ. Jesus told him, pay out the net into the deep for a catch. He obeyed in spite of the fact that he did not see reasons to do so. Afterall, he had laboured all night and caught nothing. But when he obeyed,  he neted such a huge catch that he needed help to bring to shore. Breakthrough, open doors await you as you are docile to Jesus, but when we live in rebellion we keep moving in circles and not making any progress. Obedience will bring immeasurable blessings to your life. This is grace. By his grace you can live in obedience. Amen.

8. God wants us to be instruments of his grace. Jesus tells Peter, I will make you fishers of men.
The greatest service we can ever render in this world is to make ourselves available to bring back our fallen brethren to the fold. We must have a burden for souls and be co-redeemers with Christ.  This task today is more urgent than ever. We must be like Isaiah saying here I am send me. And if this disposition is lacking in us let us fervently ask for it and God Will grant it to us. Grace is not for the capable but for the available. There are people lost out there. Ask God to use you to bring them back no matter how  deep in sin there are and far from his grace. The grace of God will not be fruitless in you. Amen.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Fr Martin Eke, MSP - Homily from 5th Sunday in Ordinary Time year C, Feb. 10, 2019

Homily of Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
 The first reading is about the call of Isaiah, the second reading about the call of Paul and the Gospel about the call Peter.
The first reading narrates Isaiah’s vision and encounter with the Lord: Isaiah saw a vision of the Lord and his angels. He acknowledged his sinfulness, “Woe to me … For I am a man with unclean lips.” To sanctify Isaiah, one of the angels took an ember from the altar fire and touched Isaiah’s lips saying, “your wickedness is removed, your sin purged.” The Lord said, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” Isaiah replied, “Here I am, … send me.”
Like Isaiah, Paul acknowledged his sinfulness. Paul said, “I persecuted the church of God.” On Paul’s way to Damascus to persecute the Christians, “a light from the sky suddenly flashed around him. He fell to the ground and was blind for three days. When Ananias prayed for him, “Immediately, things like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight.” Thereafter, he became a chosen instrument of evangelization (Acts 9:1-19).
Peter, like Isaiah and Paul acknowledged his sinfulness. He said, “I am a sinful man.” The Gospel narrated Peter’s experience: “[Jesus] said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.’ Simon said in reply, ‘Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.’ … When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.’ For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him,and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’”
Isaiah, Paul and Peter, by their own judgement were unworthy to answer God’s call. God called them despite their unworthiness. Isaiah was one of the greatest prophets. Paul was the greatest evangelist; and Peter, became the head of the Church. God may be calling someone to priesthood, or to the religious life, or serve in any of the ministries of the Church. The person may have all kinds of excuses. Someone can even go to the extent of wanting Jesus to depart, and leave him/her alone. Sometimes, we forget that when God calls, he gives the grace. All we need to do is put out into the deep water with faith and lower the nets for a catch. God does the rest.
God’s call is not only to serve in the Church. God calls us to serve him and humanity in various assignments, responsibilities, and professions. We are, also, to accept these calls with faith. God calls us to various areas of life; he wants to make us his chosen instrument; he wants to make us fishers of men and women. All we need to do is to put out into the deep with faith and lower our nets for a catch. God does the rest.
There are several reasons why some people do not respond to God’s call. Some people have a phobia feeling of inadequacy. Their feeling and expression are always “I can’t.” There are people who are afraid of failure. Putting out into the deep is too much a risk. There are people who settle for less or settle for mediocrity. They are unable to put out into the deep because they lack aspiration. They set the bar so low for themselves. There are people who are very comfortable in their comfort zone. Putting out into the deep will disturb their comfort. There are people who are lazy. They lack energy to put out into the deep. There are people who are easily frustrated and discouraged. They are unable to endure and triumph over the hitches and difficulties that go with putting out into the deep. There are people who lack the will power to pursue their vision. They remain at the level of dreams. They are unable to put out into the deep. There are people who are unable to put out into the deep because they live in the world of their ugly past. They must transcend their past for them to move forward and put out into the deep.
Psalm 42:7 says that Deep is calling each one of us to deep. May the angel of the Lord touch us with ember of fire to ignite us. May the light of Christ shine upon us to lead us. May we become God’s chosen instruments. Amen.

Fr. Martin Eke, MSP

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Saturday, February 9, 2019

In never ending love and compassion which we all experience in Jesus’ ministry as portrayed by Mark 6:30-34, Jesus discloses the need for every Christian worker to go on a retreat-a time to rest in the Lord, a special time to meditate on His works, His grace and goodness, time to receive His word and will in our daily lives. He modeled to us that spiritual energy and strength can be with us in special times of prayer to the Father, in times of solitude when we communicate to Him and bring up to Him our frailties and what impede us from doing our work for Him. Going on a retreat means, going closer to God and the more we draw near God, the more we learn about Him, the more we have of Him and the more we are able to serve Him; the more we will see Him do incredible things and the more we will crave to be involved in His work. Being alone with God renews us, nourishes, energizes and prepares us to do more work for Him. Shalom!

Friday, February 8, 2019

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Friday, February 8, 2019

Basically, the root of every fear is the assumption that we are not loved, not really-really loved. We’re afraid of being open and honest with others because they might take advantage of it to hurt us. Heb 13:1-8, describes the various ways that we act in love, and then it points out that by relying on the help of God who is love, we have nothing to fear. Overcoming fear takes faith. It takes faith to “let brotherly love continue” when the brother is irritating us and we’re afraid of getting hurt again. It takes faith to “not neglect hospitality” when we’re tired of unpleasant people and we’re afraid of what our kindnesses might lead to. When we do everything “in love”, we do it in Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will not abandon us in our needs. The risks we take for the sake of love keep us safely in God’s protective care and helpfulness. Our loving deeds won’t always produce the results that we’d like to see, and we surely will get hurt when we courageously love everyone unconditionally, but this is not what matters — not really. What matters is that God works everything out for good. If what we’re afraid might happen does indeed happen, he will turn it into a blessing. That is the generosity of his love for us. Shalom!

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Thursday, February 7, 2019

In Mk 6:7-13, Jesus, after a night in prayer, selected twelve of his followers for a special mission of intimacy with himself. He gave three reasons for this mission: 1) to be with him; 2)to go out and preach the good news; and 3)to have authority to cast out demons and to heal. Then Jesus sends them out two by two and gives them authority over unclean spirits. Therefore, all their power and authority came from him and the twelve travels light. As Jesus’ ambassadors, they preached repentance. All this they did in union with Jesus and by his power because “they were with him.” Likewise, our efficacy as his disciple depends on our union with Jesus –being with him – and that requires prayer, penance and recollection. We have all been called like the Twelve to serve God in faith, hope and charity. But we should all be aware of our great dignity because we have been called to be children of God and heirs of heaven. This call should not make us proud, but very humble, because it is all God’s work, not ours. It is a gift. God is being and life, while we are nothingness and death without him. How authentic am I in following the Lord as a Christian? Shalom!

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Tuesday, February 5, 2019

We may tend to give up and lose heart especially when our prayers remain unanswered for a period of time. We may sometimes accept defeat and stop praying. We may lose faith. The miracles of Mark 5:21-43, call us to continue to hope even if there are times in our lives when our prayers do not seem to be answered. If we persevere and have faith like the woman and Jairus, we too can obtain from the Lord what seems impossible. For He is indeed the Lord of all impossibility. Today, let us continue to believe, pray and depend on Jesus. With our trust in Him, He will bring us to a state of utter confidence in the Father’s power to rescue and sustain us even in our darkest hour because Jesus is the leader and perfecter of our faith. Shalom!

Fr Peter Ireorji, MSP - Homily from Monday, February 4, 2019

Our impression of “being possessed” always has been close to a physical invasion of someone’s body by evil spirits, such as what we see in the movies. But reflecting on Mark 5:1-20, brings us some thoughts that being possessed by spirits can also transpire in more subtle ways than what we see in Mark as in the man from the tombs. We can also be possessed when the spirit of selfishness overtakes our inclination to be more giving and generous, when the spirit of bias and prejudice sets aside our sense of fairness. Being under the control of the evil one could flow into our affairs as a community when control and dominance take over our spirit of empowerment, when we make the letter of the law preside over the spirit of love and mercy…when we abuse the authority that is provided for by our position in community…when we circumvent and hide the truth by using God’s Word to suit the desires of our lustful hearts for power and control…when we knowingly side with what is wrong to achieve transient glory and success and conceal our shortcomings. When we are overcome by what is evil, all that we desire is the flesh and the world, its power, its pleasures and influence. Jesus is ready and willing to free us from anything that binds us and that keeps us from the life God has prepared for us, from His love, His mercy and grace. Shalom!

Fr Martin Eke, MSP - Homily from 4th Sunday in Ordinary Time year C, Feb. 3, 2019


Homily of Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
The first reading tells us about the call of Prophet Jeremiah. God called Jeremiah to prophecy to the Jews at a time many political and religious leaders turned away from God, from truth and from justice. Jeremiah prophesied the fall of their city into the hands of the Babylonians. The political and religious leaders not only rejected Jeremiah and his message, they tried to kill him. Chapter 38 of the Book of Jeremiah narrates one of the plots to kill Jeremiah: The princes “took Jeremiah and threw him into the cistern. There was no water in the cistern, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud. Now Ebed-melech, an Ethiopian, a court official in the king’s house, heard that they had put Jeremiah in the cistern… said to [the king], ‘My lord king, these men have done wrong in all their treatment of Jeremiah, the prophet, throwing him into the cistern. He will starve to death on the spot...’ Then the king ordered Ebed-melech the Ethiopian: ‘Take three men with you, and get Jeremiah, the prophet, out of the cistern before he dies.’ Ebed-melech took the men with him,  and they pulled him up by rope out of the cistern” (Jeremiah 38:6-13).

The Gospel reading tells us about the rejection of Jesus. The Jews did not want to hear the message of truth, love, mercy and justice Jesus preached. They disdained him by asking, “Isn’t he the son of Joseph?” Joseph was a carpenter. Carpentry was a trade that was for the hoi poloi (the common people). Then, “They rose up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town had been built, to hurl him down headlong. But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.”

The cruel manner with which the detractors of Prophet Jeremiah and Jesus tried to do away with them, shows the extent of cruelty men and women go to reject truth and justice and silence the messengers of truth and justice. Religious and political histories are awash with several examples. However, on our own part, are we humble enough to accept uncomfortable and bitter truth, or do we reject truth, disdain and destroy the messenger? Also, God calls each one of us, as Jeremiah was called, to be prophets of truth and justice wherever we find ourselves. However, we are warned by the first reading to gird our loins because, often, messengers of truth and justice are resisted and persecuted. Sometimes, they pay the ultimate price. Even at that, we stand on God’s promise, “They will fight against you but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
The second reading from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians tells us that prophetic message bears fruit in the hearts of those who are rooted in love. St. Paul explains what love is, and what love is not: “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, love is not pompous, it is not inflatedit is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
This spiritual exercise might be helpful. Let us pray with the above passage.
Lord, I pray that:
My impatience be replaced with patience;
My unkindness be replaced with kindness;
My jealousy be replaced with admiration;
My pomposity be replaced with humility;
My inflatedness be replaced with lowliness;
My rudeness be replaced with gentleness;
My selfishness be replaced with selflessness;
My quick-temperedness be replaced with calmness;
My bitterness be replaced with delight;
My resentment be replaced with love.
Grant that:
I may have the courage to accept all truth;
I may have the heart to bear all things;
I may have the faith to believe all things;
I may have the confidence to hope all things;
I may have the strength to endure all things.
Amen.
Fr. Martin Eke, MSP

Fr Martin Eke, MSP - Homily from 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time year C, Jan. 27, 2019


Homily of Third Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
When the Jews returned from the Babylonian captivity, they were faced with the reconstruction and the restoration of their temple and city that were destroyed by their captors. Nehemiah was their governor and Ezra was their priest. While the structural reconstruction and restoration was going on, Ezra led the people to a religious restoration. Religious restoration was necessary because the Jews were exposed to the worship of other gods in Babylon which produced a generation that did not properly follow the Covenant between God and their ancestors. A major part of the renewal of the Covenant was the reading of the Book of the Law to the people. The assembly was made up of young and old. Ezra read the word of God to the assembly from morning to midday. When the people heard of the story of God’s relationship with their ancestors, and how they, themselves, had violated the Covenant and disconnected themselves from God, they wept in sorrow and repentance.
In the same way, we, also, need to look back at our journey with God. An honest reflection will help us to see God’s faithfulness, and our unfaithfulness, and our disconnection from him. At the beginning of a new year, a resolve to renew our Covenant with God, reconnect and have a closer relationship with him should be of primary importance.
While the first reading invites us to renew our Covenant with God and reconnect with him, St. Paul, in the second reading invites us to examine our relationship with our fellow human beings, see how far we have disconnected from one another, and reconnect with those we have disconnected from. We cannot reconnect with God while we are disconnected from each other. “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:20-21).

Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso (Buddhist spiritual leader) says, “We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity.” Division, disunity, tribalism, racism, discrimination, rejection, fighting, killing, segregation, and supremacy disconnect us further and further from one another and cause more and more suffering to many people and entire humanity.

St. Paul continues, “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it. Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work mighty deeds? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?” Individuals, groups, societies, races, nations, countries are gifted differently for the benefit of everyone and all humanity. Unity, justice, acceptance, harmony, understanding, collaboration, sharing, cooperation and peaceful coexistence make God’s gifts bear much fruit for the benefit of everyone and all humanity.
The Gospel calls us to continue Jesus’ mission, that is to bring good tidings to the poor, proclaim liberty to captives, bring recovery to the blind, and set the oppressed free. Jesus’ mission will not be possible if we are disconnected from God and if we are disconnected from one another. Jesus’ mission will continue, successfully, if we breakdown all dividing barriers and fill up separating gullies; reconnect with God, and reconnect with one another. Then, we will be able to see the poor, the captives, the blind and the oppressed, able to reach to them, and able to minister to them.
Fr. Martin Eke, MSP