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July 16, 2018

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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Pushing the Amalekites

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

The story is told of an old donkey whose owner considered stubborn and stupid. One day the owner heard the donkey crying desperately for help from the bottom of an old abandoned well. Having had enough of the “stupid” animal, the owner decided to bury him alive. So he invited his neighbours who arrived with shovels, and everyone began to scoop dirt into the well. Initially the donkey protested loudly and cried for mercy, but after a while he was quiet. The people kept shovelling but after a while someone chose to look into the well to see what had…

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On Gratitude And Humble Obedience

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today we consider the importance gratitude and humble obedience in our Christian journey.  Gratitude helps us overcome the entitlement complex that makes us take many things for granted. Gratitude is that attitude of virtue that enables us to recognize that everything we have is a gift, starting from life itself. In our Gospel passage today, the sole leper who came back to thank Jesus is commended for showing gratitude because our Lord knows that gratitude is vital for our spiritual health. Gratitude helps us to acknowledge God in the works of creation. In our own lives, next to honesty, gratitude…

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ON FAITH AND FAITHFULNESS

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today we reflect on the importance of faithfulness in our faith journey. Our faith demands faithfulness – that unshaken commitment to the work of the Lord with complete dedication. St Paul makes it clear in the Letter to the Romans: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship” (Rom. 12:1) Faithfulness means we deploy the totality of our being in serving the Lord while not seeking the glory, which belongs to Him alone. Jesus teaches us in…

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The cost of playing the ostrich

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

St John Chrysostom once said: “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life.” Today the Lord continues his social justice message with a profound teaching on the sin of omission. Those who neglect the needs of the poor will pay a price for turning a blind eye, or playing the ostrich. Surely, there are many of us who believe they are doing alright simply because they are not guilty of murder, adultery, child abuse or any other major crime. But the story of Lazarus and the rich man…

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It’s all about the economy!

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

It’s all about the economy! Politicians are always on about it. As the economy goes, so goes the whole nation! One TV commercial even talks about a beer economy where beer becomes the means of exchange and the measure of value. For Christians too, it’s also all about the economy, but of a different kind. It’s not the economy of financial growth and prosperity; it is not the economy of rampant consumerism and profiteering; it is not the “selfie” economy of narcissism and the exaltation of the ego; rather it is all about the most enduring economy of all –…

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Complainers Anonymous

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

The Reader’s Digest Magazine once ran the story of a robber who went to a bank in the New York State city of Syracuse. He approached the teller and demanded the sum of $20,000. On reaching home, he realized much to his chagrin that the money was not complete. Fuming, he dashed back to the bank to complain about his being short-changed. And there and then he was arrested! Complaining is as old as fallen humanity.When God asked Adam if he had eaten of the forbidden fruit his response was: “The woman you put here with me–she gave me some…

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THE DEMANDS OF DISCIPLESHIP

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today, as he embarks on his final journey to Jerusalem, our Lord calls his followers to action: “Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” Authentic Christian discipleship is a tough journey of self-sacrifice. It goes beyond feelings and vague inspirations; it requires the full deployment of all our creativity and intelligence; and it means we put Jesus first and every other thing behind. Discipleship requires self-control and detachment from earthly possessions. To be a true disciple of Jesus means that complacency is not an option, and self-indulgence is taboo. The Lord invites…

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Humility Avenue

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

After the construction of the Titanic, the builder famously declared: “Not even God can sink this ship.” That was a very bold, confident, and somewhat arrogant proposition. In the end,it did not require God to sink the famous cruise ship, an iceberg was more than enough. In contrast, when St Augustine was asked to name the three most important virtues, he answered: “First, humility. Second, humility. Third, humility.” The rest, they say, is history, as we know who had the last laugh. Humility is a foundational element of Christian discipleship. This week, the Lord teaches us that “everyone who exalts…

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Narrowing Down Our Ways

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

This week, our Lord Jesus wants us to realize that the Gospel is not a matter of how many will be saved but of how one may be saved. He likens the spiritual journey to a “narrow door” of trials and tribulations, and only those who embrace it will be saved. The Lord makes a number of important points today: a) Salvation requires effort – we must do our very best. Complacency is not an option. We are saved by faith, no doubt, but faith without good works is to no avail. b) We must utilize the opportunity we have…

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The Marathon of Fire

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today Jesus brings fire to the world! It is a fire of love, which restores humanity to a meaningful and fulfilling existence. The fire is a sign of the presence of the Spirit of God on earth. It has come to take root and gradually cultivate a civilisation of peace, justice and love. Paradoxically, the fire has come both to build up and to destroy. For those about to be saved, it purifies from what is coarse, stale or debasing and it remoulds and transforms. But for the proud and arrogant – those on the path of perdition – the…

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ON VIGILANCE AND DILIGENCE

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

A certain young woman had just graduated from the university and the parents offered her an intercontinental sea cruise for her 21st birthday. This special cruise happened only once a year and everyone was expected to arrive on time. This young lady’s excitement knew no bounds as she told everyone about it. She needed to fly to the departure port and there was only one daily flight to that destination. On the set date, everything was ready and she arrived the airport some three hours early. To while away the time, she sat down to rest but ended up sleeping…

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The Futility of Vainglory

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Aesop was one of the greatest story tellers in ancient Greece and in one his fables, a fox once saw a crow perching on a tree branch with a piece of cheese in her beak and thought to himself: “That’s for me, as I am a Fox”. He moved to the foot of the tree and cried out:”Good day, Mistress Crow, how beautiful you are looking today: how glossy your feathers; how bright your eyes. I feel sure your voice must surpass that of other birds, just as your figure does; let me hear but one song from you that…

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THE ELASTICITY OF DIVINE MERCY

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

This week we reflect on the inestimable value of persistence in prayer. St Luke’s Gospel emphasizes the role of prayer in Jesus’ life.  The Evangelist has it on record that our Lord always took out time to pray. He prayed after his baptism (3:21); before choosing his disciples (6:21); before predicting his own passion (9:18); at the Transfiguration (9:29); in thanksgiving on the return of his disciples from mission (10:21); before teaching his followers how to pray (11:1); for Peter to be strong in faith (22:32); for his enemies (23:34); and for himself on the Cross: “Father, into your hands…

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TRUE HOSPITALITY

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

At the heart of hospitality is the comfort and pleasure of the guest or customer satisfaction in business terms. This is what makes the guest to consider coming back. It is little wonder, therefore, that businesses spend huge amounts of money researching consumer tastes and preferences, and orientate their products and services accordingly. Even at the personal level, we are generally more inclined to visit those relatives and friends who make us feel welcome and comfortable, and who provide our favourite foods and drinks without much ado. On the contrary, people are generally less enthusiastic about hosts who always control…

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Playing the neighbour

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

In the first century, the idea of a Samaritan being good was inconceivable to an average Jewish person, given the level of animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans. It was also unthinkable that a Samaritan would be considered a “neighbour” by a Jew, and vice versa. However, Jesus changes all that in today’s Gospel as he radically redefines the notion of “neighbour”. He broadens the concept of neighbour to include everyone, without exception, who is in need. The Lord goes ahead to propose universal compassion as a ticket to eternal life. The drama starts with a legal expert questioning…

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THE FEMININITY OF DIVINE LOVE

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today we reflect on the maternal dimension of divine love. It is not usual for us to think of God in feminine terms – as a nursing mother for instance. For the most part, we have the image of God as Our Father, The Lion of Judah, The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, The Shepherd, The Husband, The Rock of Strength, The Prince of Peace, etc. God surely transcends gender and any other categories we might use to describe Him. But there’s a feminine side that is hardly mentioned. In the Song of Songs, He says: “I am…

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