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May 28, 2018

A KING LIKE NO OTHER

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the Universal King. Pope Pius XI instituted this Feast in 1925, calling on humanity to submit once more to the authority of Christ. The last time God was officially regarded as king by his people was about the year 1049 BC (over 3000 years ago). This was when Israel elected Saul as their king in place of God (1 Sam. 8:6). This amounted to a rejection of God, and it came at a great price. The Lord warned them that the king would exploit them and…

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LIVING IN VIEW OF THE END

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  As the liturgical year draws to a close, we are invited to reflect on the eschatological dimension of our faith – death, judgment, heaven and hell. We believe that upon death, each one of us returns to God to account for his/her life on earth. Today’s Gospel paints a picture of the events that would mark Jesus’ return. No one knows the hour, except God the Father, but our Lord does not want us to worry about that. Rather he wants us to be on the alert. However, many have taken it upon themselves to determine when the Second…

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Not the Pocket but the Heart

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today we learn that it’s not the size of the gift but the spirit behind it that really matters. When we give with an attitude of gratitude and self-offering, it is acceptable to God; but when we give with a sense of self-promotion, then there is a problem. Where self-giving sacrifice is lacking, a gift becomes, at best, a transaction, or an attempt to win admiration, or to avoid criticism. This is the lesson we draw from the Lord today in the story of the ‘Widow’s Mite’. This poor woman was deemed the most generous because she gave, not from…

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THAT WE MAY SEE AGAIN

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

What a great irony in today’s Gospel passage! In the midst of all those with healthy eyes, it takes a blind beggar to recognize the messianic mission of Jesus. He is the only one to ask the “Son of David” for mercy. Paradoxically, the people around him who thought they could see tried to stop him. It’s either they did not realize that Jesus could help the man or they could not imagine him stooping to deal with someone on the lowest rung of the social ladder. Either way they failed because our Lord was out to heal anyone and…

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THE RIGHT ATTITUDE

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  Today’s story of the Rich Young Man teaches us that detachment from material possessions, and dependence on divine grace, are necessary conditions for discipleship and the journey to eternal life. The rich aristocrat comes to Jesus with a fair bit of exuberance and confidence in his own abilities. He was probably used to his wealth opening doors for him. “Good Master” he says, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus starts by challenging him on what it means to be “good”. God alone is good; so in calling Jesus “good” the man must do so in relation…

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It’s a Covenant, Not a Contract!

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  Archimedes was the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time. Once, as he stepped into a bath, he noticed that the water level was rising, and it struck him that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body that was submerged. He had discovered how to calculate the volume of an object with an irregular shape – and that was a cutting edge discovery! Archimedes got so excited that he dashed straight from the bath into the street, forgetting to put his clothes back on,…

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GOD HAS NO FAVOURITES

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  God’s grace is superabundant for anyone who is open to it. We are meant for the fullness of grace but many a time, unfortunately, we fail to let ourselves become channels of God’s love, and we envy the good that others are doing, as if it was somehow mutually exclusive with our own good works. Consequently we find ourselves guilty of spiritual elitism whereby we consider ourselves superior and more deserving of God’s favours than others. In the First Reading, Joshua is unhappy that two men who were not among the seventy elders chosen to represent Israel at the…

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WHO WANTS TO BE GREAT?

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  Today the disciples find themselves at cross-purposes with Jesus, mainly because they did not understand of the Lord’s prediction of his imminent passion, especially regarding his rising from the dead. But they were too afraid to ask questions of Jesus on the issue. This is the second time in Mark’s Gospel that Jesus is talking about his passion and, like the first time (Mk 8:31-33), it is a very frightening and confusing prospect for the disciples to think that the one they had come to work with and believe in as the Messiah was going to be killed, just…

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LET ALL BE EPHPHATHA!

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  Today’s Gospel captures the entirety of Jesus’ mission in one word, Ephphatha (Be opened). With this singular word he healed the deaf man with a speech impediment. This is so significant a word that the evangelist does not render it in Greek but in the original Aramaic that Jesus spoke, and it has remained that way in the Bible. Ephphatha is an expression of compassion straight from the heart of God; it is a message of liberation and healing, of restoration and reconciliation, a message of total renewal. Ephphatha is a validation of Isaiah’s prophecy in the First Reading…

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GOOD OR BAD SINNER?

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  The story is told of a father who was terribly concerned that his family spent too much time watching television. While the children spent too much time on Disney channel at the expense of their homework, their mother preferred soap operas to doing housework. So he came up with radical solution: “As soon as the Premier League season is over, I’m gonna have to cancel the cable television subscription.” That is quintessential hypocrisy! It is at the heart of Jesus’s teaching today as he continues his long-running dispute with his great adversaries – the scribes and the Pharisees. The…

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STAYING PUT WITH JESUS

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  The First Reading and the Gospel today address the issue of standing firm with the Lord and his Church in the face of difficulties whether in understanding certain truths of the faith, or with the temptations of everyday living. Many baptized Catholics today have become alienated from the Church because they view some of the teachings or disciplines to be “too hard” or “old-fashioned”. This is especially true in matters of sexual morality vis-à-vis the sanctity of human life, contraception, the integrity of marriage, or the charism of celibacy in religious life. This discomfiting phenomenon did not start in…

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JESUS AS REAL FOOD

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  In our First Reading today the Lord extends an invitation to the unwise: “Come and eat my bread, drink the wine I have prepared! Leave your folly and you will live, walk in the ways of perception”. This is a call to repentance, to flee from the glamour of evil, and to substitute the healthy bread of life (righteousness) for the “junk” food of unrighteousness. The “fool” here is not just a simpleton or one lacking in intellect and discernment – such a one is incapable of mortal sin. Rather, it refers to a person who deliberately chooses to…

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BREAD MATTERS

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  Today we are challenged to worry less about earthly sustenance and more about the “bread of heaven” which provides unending sustenance. We are to focus less on our everyday difficulties and more on what the grace of God is doing in our lives.In the First readingElijah, running from Queen Jezebel, is so worn out by hunger in the wilderness that he complains aloud to the Lord saying: “I have had enough!” In response God sends an angel to provide him some food and drink which had a supernatural impact on him. We are told that: “Strengthened by that food,…

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On Him the Father has set His seal

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  In a certain little village was a three-year old boy who had just been to a birthday party. He had so much fun that the very next day he was missing from home. This caused a lot of panic and confusion as the family combed the entire neighbourhood looking for him. Then a few hours later a young woman, well known to the family, saw him in the next village, wandering in the vicinity of the previous day’s party. When she asked where he was going his response was: “I am going to the birthday party”. She took time…

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SHARING OUR LOAVES

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  Today Jesus feeds a great crowd with five barley loaves and two fish.This is made possible by the generosity of a little boy who chose to share his food. This miracle has a parallel in the First Reading where Elisha multiplies 20 loaves to feed 100 people. In both cases the loaves are brought to a prophet, a large number is fed, there is an assistant who thinks it’s not possible, and yet there are leftovers in the end. Jesus takes the bread, offers thanks and then gives to the people. This gesture foreshadows the Eucharistic liturgy. The Eucharist…

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SHEPHERDS AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  In the first reading today, the Prophet Jeremiah delivers a clear warning to the shepherds of Judah. Just before the fall of Jerusalem and the consequent exile in Babylon, the kings and priests of Judah were anything but good. The supposed shepherds were too self-centred and failed in their duty to communicate God’s love and compassion to the people. The religious and political elite plundered the land and scandalized the very people they were called to serve and protect. So through Jeremiah the Lord rebukes them:”You have scattered my flock, you have driven them away and have not taken…

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The Recapitulation of all things in Christ

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Our contributions to everyday life, and very importantly in matters of national discourse – politics, abortion, gay marriage, euthanasia, etc. must be guided by our fidelity to Christ and his teachings as espoused by the Church. Today’s readings focus on our being chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to fulfil the hidden plan of God that is to be revealed in the fullness of time. We have become God’s adopted children as the Father “chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence… through Jesus Christ for his own…

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Shooting The Messenger

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard once said: “The Bible is very easy to understand. But we ….pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly.” The problem of our times is not so much that of unknowing as it is of culpable ignorance, which is when we pretend not to grasp what is obvious, or turn a blind eye to an objective principle. The aim is usually to avoid the moral imperatives implied by such realities. The experience of Jesus with his townsfolk in today’s Gospel…

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HE FEELS OUR PAIN

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  Today’s readings deal with life and death, faith and mercy, healing and restoration. The First Reading traces the origins of suffering and death in the world; they were not part of God’s original creative design but were caused by the Devil’s envy and facilitated by the disobedience of our first parents in the Original Sin episode. As result, the original justice was lost, and all manner of pain, suffering and death became the lot of humanity.In the Second Reading, St Paul makes the point that our faith should bear fruit in works of mercy. We are called to be…

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CAN GOD BE UNFAIR?

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  Can God be unfair? This could appear to be the case sometimes, especially when life is very rough or when good people are suffering unjustly. But we know that God is goodness personified and could not possibly be unfair, except that he loved us at the expense of his own Son. In the Book of Job, the man is complaining bitterly about his calamities and cannot understand why a righteous man like him should suffer so intolerably. He sought explanations from God. Job was sharing the sentiments of Qoheleth who said: “There is something else meaningless that occurs on…

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