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May 28, 2018

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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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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At the root of the matter

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Christian discipleship encompasses a lot more than external ritualism! To be worth it, our piety must pierce the heart and infuse the entirety of one’s being. Thus, we are challenged to go beyond the outward observances of the Law onto a deep-rooted healing of the human heart, as a remedy for sin. The people of Jesus’ time viewed the Mosaic Law as the ultimate expression of the will of God, the self-revelation of God, and the complete code of conduct for the regulation of civil and religious matters. Yet, the greater emphasis was on the external dos and don’ts rather…

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LIGHT CAN ONLY SHINE

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

In the Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), Pope Francis said: “Goodness always tends to spread. Every authentic experience of truth and goodness seeks by its very nature to grow within us, and any person who has experienced a profound liberation becomes more sensitive to the needs of others. As it expands, goodness takes root and develops”. The point to note here is that goodness is something that one could not keep to oneself without sharing with others. Any sort of goodness that can be concealed in a person cannot be authentic and is not founded on…

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CALLED TO BEATITUDE

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

The great philosopher Aristotle once said that happiness is what everyone seeks and that every human effort is oriented towards its achievement. However, many of our efforts do not bring us happiness because the underlying principles are wrong. The truly ethical person, Aristotle says, is the one who knows and does only that which brings true and lasting happiness. True happiness is that which conforms with the will of God and is geared towards our supernatural vocation to the kingdom of heaven. In today’s gospel, Jesus provides the framework for true and lasting happiness/blessedness/beatitude. He pronounces blessedness or beatitude upon…

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The Greatest Summons

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Most renowned speeches or stories do have a single line or phrase encapsulating their whole essence. And many a time, these lines or phrases end up characterizing or defining the entirety of the subject’s persona or life project. This is especially true in literature, politics, and in movies. For example, when we hear “Even you Brutus!”, we immediately associate that with Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Whenever someone says: “I have a dream!”, our minds flash back to Martin Luther King Jnr. And at the mention of “Yes, We Can!”, Barrack Obama comes to mind. In the Gospel of today, we hear…

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In imitation of Christ

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

As the Universal Church reverts to the Ordinary Time in her liturgical calendar, our Lord Jesus is offered to the world as the Light to the nations, and the One who takes away the sins of the world. Both descriptions accentuate the messianic character of Christ’s ministry. As Light to the nations, he dispels the darkness of sin and division, shining through the entire cosmos and illumining our path back to the Father. As the Lamb of God, he offers himself to be bruised and battered for the sake of a broken humanity and a sin-riddled world. Thus, today, we…

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Following the Star!

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

On this day, we commemorate the Epiphany of the Lord – the revelation of God the Son to the Gentiles. It’s a day to sing and rejoice in celebration of God’s faithfulness over the ages.  The Lord has delivered on his promise to send us his Messiah and to make him the centre of humanity. In the First Reading, the Lord promises to lead all nations to Jerusalem to partake in the light of salvation: “everyone in Sheba will come, bringing gold and incense and singing the praises of the Lord” (Isaiah 60:6). This promise is echoed in the Responsorial…

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God’s got you covered!

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

American theologian and author, Scott Hahn tells an interesting story about covenantal love. It was about an earthquake in Armenia which killed 25,000 people in 1998. And there was an anxious father rushing to his son’s school and being traumatized by though of the promise he always made to his little boy: “No matter what happens, my son, I will never abandon you.” Reaching there the school had been reduced to a pile of rubble, and the poor man just stood there at first fighting back tears. Then he ran over to where his son’s classroom had been and, with…

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OUR ANXIOUS JOY

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

It’s “Gaudete Sunday”, and that’s why we are using rose candles and vestments at Mass today. “Gaudete” is Latin for “rejoice”, and we are invited to rejoice because Christmas is closer. We are not there yet but the finish line is clearly in sight. The eclipse is nearly over and the sun is set to shine again. But should we really be rejoicing considering all the problems in our world? Why should we rejoice when our Catholic faith faces relentless attacks from a cynically hostile media and other enemies of the Church? Why should we rejoice given the level of…

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SERIOUS AND PERSONAL

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Christian discipleship is a serious and personal enterprise! It is much more than a cultural heritage, or social convention. Rather, it is special, fundamental, all-encompassing, and all-important. Following Christ is more than just what our parents or ancestors handed down to us; it transcends the realm of peer influence, and it goes beyond what we learn at school or on social media. Christianity is a sublime experience and a personal encounter with the eternal Word of God. It is a personal invitation to “what no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no human mind conceived” (I Cor. 2:9)….

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Time for Refreshing

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

It’s Advent again!  It’s that season of expectation when we prepare the way for the nativity of our Lord. It isa time for the renewal of faith and hope while watching and praying.But why do we have to go through the same rituals every year? Why Advent? It is certainly not for a lack of imagination or creativity on the part of the Church. Rather, it is a perennial reminder of the three comings of Christ our Lord. The first was in history (2000 years ago); the second is his ongoing coming in mystery through his grace, Word and sacraments;…

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A KING LIKE NO OTHER!

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today, we celebrate our Lord Jesus Christ as the Universal King – the King of kings and Lord of Lords! This feast was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925, who called on humanity to submit once more to the authority of Christ. The pope observed that the multiple evils in the world were due to mankind’s rejection of the lordship of Jesus Christ, and that so long as this remained the case, there was no prospect of a lasting peace on earth. The last time God was officially regarded as King by his people was about the year 1049…

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VICTORY IN SIGHT

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

As we approach the end of the liturgical year, Jesus reminds us once again of the temporary nature of man-made structures, no matter how solid. The Temple in Jerusalem was a magnificent, awe-inspiring, architectural masterpiece. It was the pride of the Jewish nation and the centrepiece of their national life. There was no other building like it anywhere at the time, so the thought of its complete destruction was inconceivable to the people. But that’s exactly what Jesus prophesies in our Gospel passage today! In the same breath, he uses the Temple as an allegory for all the forces in…

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We shall be like Angels

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today’s Gospel provides a profound reflection on the resurrected life. It is a life that transcends marriage and the raising of offspring; a brand-new life not limited by any of the impediments of the present life. Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection is in response to a riddle posed by the Sadducees citing the Mosaic Law on the raising of children for a deceased relative. In their cunning attempt to entrap Jesus, they contrived a most unlikely scenario of a woman successively marrying seven brothers – to question the concept of rising from the dead. In ancient Jewish culture the maintenance…

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Jesus invites Himself

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

In the Gospel passage, today, Jesus invites himself into our hearts. He wants to come in and help us to overhaul our lives so we can be on the path of a new, meaningful, and fruitful existence. We are invited to come down from the tree of human effort and to embrace the gift of God that Jesus offers us. Zacchaeus was a very short, wealthy tax collector and a public sinner. He was a man widely despised for his life of cheating, bribery, and extortion. Also, he was denounced for being a collaborator with the Roman authorities. But this…

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We can be Pharisees

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today’s message is a strong warning to those who pride themselves on being virtuous, and who look down on others. Human effort, no matter how heroic, could never earn God’s favour. Salvation is a free gift of God! In the Gospel passage our Lord uses the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector to highlight the dangers of self-justification.  It is a vice that blinds us to our own foibles, and need for divine mercy. Prideful self-assurance and makes us feel superior to everyone else. Writing to the Romans (3:23), St Paul rightly makes it clear that “all have…

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