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August 17, 2018

THE CRUMBS OF FAITH

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

This week, Jesus invites us to break down the barriers of separation and discrimination, in order to embrace the universal fraternity of all mankind under one God and Father of all. He has just gone into the pagan territory of Tyre and Sidon, where he meets a woman in desperate need of help for her critically ill daughter. Out of extreme anxiety, the woman breaks social convention to approach Jesus: a) As a woman she was not supposed to speak to a man in public; and b) She was not only a Gentile but also from an area hostile to…

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WHEAT OR WEED?

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Despite God’s perfect knowledge of all our sinfulness, he continues to give us not just a second chance but another chance. No matter the gravity or frequency of our transgressions, the Lord gives us another chance while patiently inviting us to turn from our sinful ways. The First Reading today is clear that the Lord, though not accountable to anyone, nevertheless remains mild in judgment while governing his people with great clemency. The Responsorial Psalm exults the Lord as good and forgiving, the “God of mercy and compassion, slow to anger”. Then, in the Gospel passage, Jesus uses the Parable…

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WHEN IGNORANCE IS REAL BLISS

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Of all the monotheistic (one God) religions in the world, only Christianity believes in the Trinity. The Church teaches that, “In God there are three Divine Persons, really distinct and equal in all things, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” This is a unique mark of our faith and, no doubt, it is very hard to comprehend! How can God be both one and three? How can the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be fully God, and yet distinct persons? The ordinary human mind cannot grasp this completely, but that very fact makes the doctrine ring true. It…

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IT’S OUR CHURCH

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

“Pentecost” comes from the Greek word for “fiftieth.” Fifty days from the day after Passover, the Jews celebrated the Feast of Weeks (Shavuot), commemorating the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. Originally, the feast marked the conclusion of the grain harvest (Ex. 23:16). On that day, the first fruits of the spring grain harvest were offered to God at the Temple. While Passover signified the people’s freedom from bondage, Shavuot signified their becoming God’s people through the acceptance of the Law. Being a pilgrim festival, Pentecost was a most fitting time for the Holy Spirit to come and enkindle…

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The Meaning of Eternal Life

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today’s Gospel passage teaches us the meaning of eternal life – knowing the only true God and his messenger, Jesus Christ. (John 17:3). Eternal life isnot a matter of time and space but a relationship of intimate knowledge. It is not a matter of food and drink but of “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17). Eternal life is not a matter of earthly wellbeing or material prosperity but rather comes from knowing God. This knowledge is more than intellectuallygrasping a concept but entails an intimate bond, a profound communion. Eternal life is a love affair with…

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When Suffering Makes Sense

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today we are invited to ponder the salvific meaning of suffering and to unite our sufferings with the passion of Christ, as a spiritual sacrifice for the remission of sin. This proposition may not go down well with today’s modern culture so much obsessed with pleasure, comfort, and appearance. There are many who believe that life is meaningful only when it is painless. But the reality is that a painless life is not possible in this present life, no matter how hard we try. Suffering is an inseparable accident of fallen humanity. Paradoxically, it is through suffering that we are…

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In union with the Church

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

In the First Reading today, we see the institution of the diaconate in the early Church. The Greek-speaking group were complaining of their widows being discriminated against by the Hebrew members in the distribution of food. The issue was beginning to threaten the Church’s pursuit of her divine mandate of proclaiming the Gospel to every nation. Appropriately, the Apostles stepped in and created the Order of Deacons (servers) to take care of the matter. As St Peter says: “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.” Many might not know this, but…

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The Shepherd God

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

On this Good Shepherd Sunday, we acknowledge God as the universal shepherd of humanity, and ourselves as the sheep of his flock. Today is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The Patriarchs of Israel were shepherds, just like their early kings. And in Scripture, the prophets speak endlessly of Israel as the flock of God. In the Responsorial Psalm today, we see what our Lord the Good Shepherd does for us his sheep: “Fresh and green are the pastures where he gives me repose. Near restful waters he leads me, to revive my drooping spirit” (Ps. 23:2-3a). Of…

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The Bumpy Ride of Life

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today, we are called to see our life on earth as a pilgrimage, laden with bumps and potholes. But God is always on hand to steer us through. He’s got our back! In the Second Reading, St Peter says: “you must be scrupulously careful as long as you are living away from your home.” We are pilgrims on our way back to the Father’s house. The Responsorial Psalm explains that God is faithful and, if we stay close to him, he will show us the path of life and everlasting happiness. The Gospel passage expresses the same truth – Jesus…

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Mercy Begets Mercy

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

The Feast of Divine Mercy was established on April 30, 2000 by Pope John Paul II, at the canonization of Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska, the Divine Mercy visionary. Saint John Paul II is our Apostle of Mercy. He saw forgiveness as a necessary ingredient for peace on earth. We know that it was him who established the Divine Mercy Sunday celebration on April 30th, 2000, and that he died on Saturday, April 2nd, 2005, shortly after the vigil Mass of the Feast of Divine Mercy. He was beatified on the Feast of Divine Mercy in 2011. And finally, he was…

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The Power of Easter

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Jesus is alive! Our Lord is risen because, “it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:24). Adam’s rebellion is reversed and man’s communion with God is restored. Through the victory of Christ, we have been assured of divinization; we have become sharers in the divine nature. What a great paradox that we have been so immeasurably rewarded for our sinfulness – through the merits of Christ. That is the amazing depth of God’s love; the unfathomable wonder of divine madness. The resurrection of Christ means everything for us. It confirms everything he said and did:…

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From Hosanna to Crucifixion

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

It’s Palm Sunday today and it is Passion Sunday! It is a day of dramas and monumental contradictions. On this day, we commemorate the triumphal entry of a king who ends up dying like a common criminal. It is a day of both “Hosanna”,and of “Crucify him!” It’s a day of acclamation: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” and, also, a day of denials: “I do not know him!” It’s a day of paying homage and, also, a day of mockery!   Dear friends, as we recall one of the most dramatic episodes of the…

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You are the one he loves

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

St Augustine once said that it’s impossible to love and to desert someone at the same time. If we truly believe that God loves us, then there should be no room for despair in our life no matter the circumstances. In today’s Gospel, Martha and Mary are bemoaning the death of their brother, Lazarus, and the fact that Jesus was late in coming to his assistance. Scripture is very clear that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. Nevertheless, he doesn’t rush across to Bethany to heal Lazarus. Nor does he heal him from a distance, as he did with the…

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Help before blame

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

This week, the Lord challenges us to always lend a helping hand first before pointing the finger of blame. Also, we are called to always acknowledge the good deeds of others even when we do not exactly like them. In those days, it was believed that health and prosperity were signs of God’s approval and favour, while sickness and destitution were the result of sin and God’s disapproval. This mindset flows from the book of Exodus, which talks about God “punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation” (Ex. 20:5). Nonetheless, Jesus makes…

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Leaving our buckets behind

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today, Jesus uses the Samaritan woman’s search for water to lead her to the fountain of grace and authentic freedom. In the process, he breaks longstanding racial boundaries (asking a Samaritan for a favour); and social convention as well (a rabbi hanging out with a woman). Jesus offers her the living water which whoever drinks of it will never thirst again. Like the Samaritan woman, we all have the physiological need for food, drink, shelter, etc. We also have the social need for affection, companionship, recognition, and affirmation. All the above can be achieved through human effort but, being short-lived,…

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CALLED TO OVERCOME

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today, fresh from his baptism at the Jordan, Jesus sets out to fast and pray in the desert. He is preparing for his mission to rescue humanity from the wilderness of sin and alienation. The Lord comes to liberate us from the dominion of iniquity and shame, and to restore us to the fullness of grace and divine life. The forty days in the wilderness is a symbol of the great physical and spiritual challenges of life. The Great Flood lasted forty days (Gen.7: 4, 17), and so did Moses’ fasting on Mount Sinai (Ex.34:28). Then, there were spies sent…

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The futility of worry

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Material success is considered by many to be necessary sign of divine favour, and this principle provides the basis for the prosperity doctrine held by many Pentecostal/Evangelical Christian denominations. Today, however, Jesus negates this concept by insisting that we seek the Kingdom of God first and most importantly, and every other thing will follow. Material pursuits are good and desirable but they must be subordinated to the pursuit of righteousness – our ticket to eternal beatitude. When the pursuit of wealth comes first, allegiance to Christ takes the back seat. Our possessions will start to possess us and, instead of…

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Leadership by example: Barack Obama the great…Elsewhere in America (6)

(11) OBAMA THE GREAT AND THE REST OF HUMANITY   As OBAMA took his exit from the political arena of American democracy there aren’t just a few who paid their glowing tributes to the great president of the United States. Look at a few ‘comments’ or ‘tributes’ by thousands of individuals who see and think about OBAMA as I do. JUST A FEW OF THE SELECTED QUOTES!   (i)   “Being English, I may see things from a totally different perspective! I see a President who, being thoroughly graceful, has done a great job. Hadn’t he lowered your deficit in an…

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Turning the other cheek

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today, we have one of the most radical religious teachings ever – to turn the other cheek when we are smacked. Last week, we were challenged to exceed the righteousness of the scribes and the Pharisees. This time, Jesus invites us to imitate the perfect love of God the father when responding to personal insults and injuries – with grace, patience, forgiveness, and generosity. Our Lord wants us to overturn the culture of vengeance and violence by not always insisting on getting our own way, but rather going out of our way to do good to others, especially when they…

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Leadership by example: Barack Obama the great…Elsewhere in America (5)

(7) GREAT FAMILY MAN: Husband and Father: One blissful successful marriage with one of the best mothers and wives in the history of marriage encounter. It seemed that right from birth God set them aside and prepared them to join together to become a paradigm of what married life is all about. Unlike most other turbulent marriages in modern times, no divorces and divorce suits and re-marriages, no suspicions with regard to extramarital affairs! Behold too, Michele Obama, the perfect wife and match of her life partner. The Igbo people of Nigeria would address her as “Oyiridiya” (carbon copy of…

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