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July 16, 2018

EXALTING THE CROSS

Today we celebrate the Triumph of the Cross. We rejoice that a foremost instrument of torture and human degradation has become the means of redemption for humanity. The tree of shame and defeat has become the tree of life. Today’s feast reminds us that Christianity is not some abstract concept, but rather God’s direct intervention inhuman affairs – a real fact of history involving real people, and a real execution on a real cross. The cross is fundamental to the Christian faith, and without it Christianity is meaningless. In the year 326 A.D., St. Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, discovered…

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ON THE DEMISE OF SIN

Whatever Became of Sin?  This was the title of a book written in 1973 by Dr. Karl Menninger, the renowned American psychiatrist. He laments the disappearance of the notion of sin, not only from everyday life but even from the pulpit. Menninger invites the clergy to call a sin a sin, as without personal acceptance and resolution of guilt, and the accompanying pain and personal shame, there is no hope. The author argues that sin is still prominently responsible for our situation but we have renamed and often dignified it. We no longer call it sin. The name of the…

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LIVING SACRIFICE

Today Jesus informs the disciples that he was going to suffer and be killed, but that he would rise again after three days. This warning does not go down well with Peter whose notion about the Messiah was that of power and glory – the one who was to deliver his people from bondage, and to give them life. How could the Saviour die in the hands of those he came to save? Therefore, Peter’s exclaims: “God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you.” But Christ came in order to suffer – more than anyone else. That…

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THE CRUCIAL QUESTION

“But who do you say that I am?” This question resonates in the heart of a young person facing the attraction to sin. It whispers in the mind of a married couple striving to keep the right balance in their relationship. The question is pondered by the widow or single mum struggling to provide for her young children, not knowing where the next meal will come from. It is a question contemplated by the public servant faced with the challenge of serving with integrity even as everyone else seems to be stealing. The same question bothers the mind of a…

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CRUMBS FOR EVERYONE

This week Jesus invites us to break down barriers of separation and discrimination, in order to embrace the universal fraternity of all mankind under one Father. He had gone to the pagan territory of Tyre and Sidon, where he met a woman in desperate need of help for her critically ill daughter. Out of desperation, the woman defies the odds and 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 the Jews. Even…

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ON BOATS AND GHOSTS

We may have our notions about the manifestations of God, but he surely transcends all human perceptions and philosophical categories.Elijah was used to associating God with tremendous phenomena: “The Lord that answers by fire, let him be my God” (1Kings 18:24).In the First Reading he went to Mount Horeb to meet God. He was expecting some dramatic manifestation but was shocked to experience none of the usual hallmarks of God’s presence – the burning bush of Mount Horeb; the thunders and earthquakes of Isaiah (Isaiah 29:6); or even the powerful storm encountered by the disciples on the lake. Only when…

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INVINCIBLE LOVE

In today’s Gospel Jesus uses the miracle of the loaves and fish to showcase the operative power of his kingdom here on earth. The aim is to get us to believe in him and to trust that he’d always be there for us no matter what happens. It does not matter the time, place or situation, Jesus is always longing to provide for his people in their hour of need. He had just learnt of the killing of John the Baptist and sought some quiet place so he and his companions could mourn the death of his cousin. But this…

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ALL FOR ONE THING

Today Jesus uses more parables to explain the mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is such a priceless treasure that anyone who is wise would willingly give up everything for it. A farm worker stumbles on a hidden treasure and hides it again. He then sells all his possessions to buy the plot of land in order to gain the treasure. Suddenly, he is liberated from poverty and uncertainty, and now lives a fulfilled life. A hardworking merchant, after many years of fortune hunting, finally lands a pearl of great price. His life is turned around –peace, stability, prosperity,…

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WHEAT OR WEED

Notwithstanding his omnipotence and his perfect knowledge of all that we are and are up to, God continues to give us not just a second chance but another chance. No matter the gravity or frequency of our transgressions, he gives us another chance while patiently inviting us to change 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 lenience. The Psalm exults the Lord as good and forgiving – “God of mercy and compassion, slow to anger” (Psalm 85:15). In the…

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SOIL FOR HARVEST

Today’s readings teach us about fertility, planting, harvesting and fruitfulness. The sacred authors make use of everyday material elements to convey the not-so-easy-to-understand truths of the Kingdom of God. In the First Reading God uses rainfall as a metaphor to emphasize the certainty of his words coming to fulfillment. Every word of the Lord must, without fail, come to pass. Therefore, it is in our best interest to listen so as not to be found wanting. The Responsorial Psalm is a reminder of the provisions that the Lord has made for us to enjoy the beauties of creation – with…

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THE RECIPE OF YOKE

  Today Jesus gives us the recipe for an enduring rest. He invites us to emulate his example of perfect obedience to the Father: “Learn from me for I am meek and humble of heart”. Meekness is one of the keys to unlock the peace of Christ. Meekness is not weakness, though we tend to confuse the two because they sound alike. Meekness is the unusual drive that enables us to treat others with patience, respect, and kindness, even when it is extremely hard to do so, like when they don’t deserve it, or when we don’t feel like it….

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On Saints Peter and Paul

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, the two main pillars of the Christian Church. Christ chose Peter to be “the rock” upon which to build his Church. This is the same Peter who denied the Lord thrice. Also,Christ chose Paul to be the Apostle to the Gentiles (nations). This is the same Paul who led a great violent persecution against the infant Church – he witnessed and approved the killing of St. Stephen(Acts 8:1).Christ chose Peter not because he was a top class resource or personnel manager, but rather in spite of his obvious frailties. The…

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THE BODY AND BLOOD OF CHRIST

The word “blood” appears in more than 400 places in the Bible. So what is it about blood? Well, without blood we die physically, and without the blood of Christ we lack spiritual health and vitality. For ancient Israel, blood represented sacrifice and life. These two premises of their faith come together in the offering of the blood of sacrificed animals as atonement for sin. Looking back, we can see how this ancient method of atonement pointed the way to the divine sacrifice that Jesus would make for the salvation of the world. So when we celebrate Mass and receive…

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WHEN IGNORANCE IS REAL BLISS

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. 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? Our minds cannot grasp this completely, but that very fact makes the doctrine ring true. It shows that it is…

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IT’S OUR CHURCH

“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 by accepting the Law. Being a pilgrim festival, Pentecost was a most fitting time for the Holy Spirit to come and inflame the hearts…

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IT’S A LOVE AFFAIR

In today’s Gospel Jesus teaches us the meaning of eternal life. It’s the eve of his passion and while at table with his Apostles, he prays what is known as the priestly prayer of Christ. It’s a priestly prayer because he pleads with the Father for his people. Likewise, it is a Eucharistic Prayer as it expresses his thankfulness to the Father for the power given him over all mankind, and also for the gift of his disciples: “They were yours and you gave them to me” (John 17:6).Then the Lord goes on to spell out what eternal life means:…

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When Suffering Makes Sense

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 resonate with a 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, but through it we are saved. Why do we suffer?…

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Our Ultimate Mission

Pastor’s Corner with Fada Henry www.frhenryibe.com, frhenry@outlook.com   In the First Reading today we see the institution of the ministry of deacons in the early Church. The Greek-speaking group complained that their widows were short-changed by the Hebrew members in the distribution of food. The issue was affecting the Church’s pursuit of her divine mandate of proclaiming the Gospel. Appropriately, the Apostles stepped in and created the Order of Deacons (servers). As St Peter said:“It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table.” In other words, the primary and most important task of…

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Good Shepherd Sunday

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. In the Old Testament, the Patriarchs of Israel were shepherds, just like their early kings. Even the prophets speak endlessly of Israel as the flock of God. Today’s Psalm describes what the Lord, our 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 all religions in…

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THE EMMAUS JOURNEY

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 Psalm explains that God is faithful, that 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 walking…

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