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July 20, 2018

SHOOTING THE MESSENGER

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard once said that 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.” There is one thing worse than ignorance, and that is when we pretend not to grasp what is obvious or turn a blind eye to an objective principle (culpable ignorance).   The aim is usually to avoid the moral imperatives implied by such realities. The experience of Jesus with his townsfolk in today’s Gospel illustrates this point. The people…

OUR ROCK-SOLID CHURCH

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Many a time when we hear the phrase – “built to last”- our minds easily go towards concrete structures or automobiles. The reality, however, is that no matter how beautifully or solidly built a machine or device may be, time and technology would always combine to render it obsolete. That is the short-lived nature of man-made structures. The Church of Christ is the one true structure built to last, guaranteed to endure till the end of time. Despite all the attacks coming from innumerable fronts, the Catholic Church has remained most resilient – never ceasing to captivate minds and hearts…

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…

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…

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…

ON CORPUS CHRISTI

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  Blood is a most essential ingredient of life. Without blood we have no physical life, and without the blood of Jesus we die spiritually. His Precious Blood does more than just wash away our sin. It continues the flow of divine life in us as well, keeping us connected to our heavenly Father. Without the blood of Christ we have no spiritual vitality. Today, therefore, the Church draws our attention to what it really is we receive at Communion. The Feast of Corpus Christi is a celebration of our belief in the Body and Blood of Christ, and in…

Consecration in Truth

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  Today, in his priestly prayer, Jesus asks his Father to protect all who will be his disciples from the “world”; that is, from the satanic powers opposed to God and the authority of his Christ. The “world” also refers to those socio-cultural norms that tend to lure us away from Christ’s meaningful but demanding friendship. It is the kingdom of the devil, as opposed to the Kingdom of God, the city of fallen humanity as opposed to the city of redeemed humanity. As St John states in his epistle, “nothing the world has to offer – the sensual body,…

The Commandment of Love

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  One big characteristic of human life on earth is the search for love, and ultimately for God. At the core of our being is the innate craving for attention, direction, inspiration, affirmation, emotion, consummation, etc. Equally inherent in our human nature is the need to show love and affection to others. The importance of loving is clear to anyone familiar with the life and teachings of Jesus. Today he reduces the essence discipleship into one sentence. This sentence is his New Commandment, which encapsulates everything he taught: “Love one another as I have loved you.”And to make it even…

The Shepherd and The Cowboy

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. 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…

Mercy Overflowing A FRESH START

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today we have an offer of a fresh start from the risen Lord. His death and resurrection means we have a clean slate, no longer bound by the consequences of our sin. We are invited to embrace this fresh start and become a people of the resurrection. In the First Reading St Peter reminds the Jewish leaders and the people of their conspiracy against Jesus: “It was you who accused the Holy One, the Just One, you who demanded the reprieve of a murderer while you killed the prince of life”.  But very quickly he moves on from that and…

Mercy Overflowing

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

  The feast of Divine Mercy was established on April 30, 2000 by Pope John Paul II,on the occasion of the canonization Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun and visionary through whom the Lord Jesus requested that the Second Sunday of Easter be reserved to honour and commemorate God’s infinite mercy. How fitting that the Pope himself, a great apostle of mercy, was canonized on Divine Mercy Sunday, 2014! Christianity is a story of the infinite mercy of God, without which we are lost and hopeless. Notwithstanding our unfaithfulness, the Lord has remained faithful through the ages and his…

A Victor from the Dark Domain

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Today is the greatest Sunday of all! It is the dawn of a new creation! Jesus is alive, “because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Acts 2:24).Adam’s rebellion is reversed and our communion with God is restored. We have become sharers in the divine nature, assured of divinization. What a great paradox that we have been so inestimably rewarded for our sinfulness – O Happy Fault! That is the amazing depth of God’s ineffable love, the unfathomable, inexhaustible fountain of divine mercy. Christ’s resurrection means everything for us. Only the bright light of the Resurrection…

LOVE INIMITABLE

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but might have eternal life” (Jn.3:16). With these words Jesus clarifies for us the extent of his Father’s love for us. There are so many adjectives to qualify the love of God – copious, ineffable, unfathomable, steadfast, interminable, etc., but it surely transcends them all. Today Jesus offers himself as the perfect expression of that love and only through him can we fully appropriate it. The Catechism explains that the only reason God revealed himself to Israel, and…

WE ARE LEPERS

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Leprosy (Hansen’s disease) was one of the most dreaded (and most rampant) diseases in Ancient Israel. It rendered the sufferers unclean – unfit to participate in the social and liturgical life of the nation. For fear of contagion, the victims were isolated from the rest of the community. They carried a stigma, with little love or acceptance, and no enjoyment of ordinary human companionship. They were completely stripped of their human dignity, like persons living with HIV/AIDS are still discriminated against in many parts of the world today. Leprosy would usually rot one’s extremities – nose, lips, fingers, toes, etc.,…

CALLED TO PREACH

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

In our Gospel today the disciples come to Jesus the morning after a spectacularly successful day in their ministry. Jesus’s fame was at an all-time high. His preaching was a huge success. He dramatically expelled a demon right in the middle of the synagogue. Then he spent the entire evening of the Sabbath working miraculous cures and amazing exorcisms. The next morning, his disciples must have been wild with excitement – looking forward to another day of splendid performances. And so, when they awoke to find him gone from the house, with a growing crowd of town people clamoring to…

THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE

Pastors corner with Fr Henry Ibe

Every great leader or visionary makes use of slogans to great effect. Usually concise, direct and poignant, such slogans go straight to the heart of the matter. They encapsulate the whole message and characterize the entirety of the speaker or writer’s persona or legacy. We see this a lot in politics and in movies. When, for example, we hear the expression: “I have a dream”, we think of Martin Luther King Jnr. Similarly, the phrase: “I’ll be back”, usually reminds movie lovers of Arnold Schwarzenegger. In today’s Gospel we hear the greatest slogan ever deployed, the greatest challenge ever given…

WORDS ARE NOT ENOUGH

In his autobiography, UP From Slavery, Booker T Washington – the first African-American to establish a University – recalls the case of an ex-slave from Virginia (U.S.A) whom he met in the state of Ohio. A few years before the Emancipation Proclamation, this man had an agreement with his master to buy his freedom by paying a certain amount yearly, in exchange for going wherever he pleased to work and raise the money. Realizing he had better prospects in Ohio, the slave-man went there to work. At the time the Emancipation happened he still owed his master some three hundred…

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…

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…

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….