Saturday, November 05, 2005

One Lost Sheep

“Tell me, suppose a man has a 100 sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the 99 on the hillside and go in search of the stray? I tell you solemnly, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the 99 that did not stray at all. Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost” (Matthew 18: 12 – 14)

Christ is the shepherd who has the 100 sheep. Once upon a time, I was the one lost sheep. Christ searched for me until he found me and brought me back. When he found me, he was very joyful.

I am called today to be a shepherd to one lost sheep. What Christ did for me I will do for the one lost sheep. Where will I search for the one lost sheep?

Lord Jesus, give me a burden for the one lost sheep. Equip me with a merciful, compassionate and patient heart until I find the one lost sheep.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Promise of Eternal Life

“God of power and mercy, only with your help can we offer you fitting service and praise. May we live the faith we profess and trust your promise of eternal life.” (Opening Prayer – 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time)

If we cannot trust God in little things, how can we trust his promise in bigger things? How can we trust his promise of eternal life? “The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in greater ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” (Luke 16: 10).

Thursday, November 03, 2005

St. Martin de Porres: Get Us to America

Saint Martin de Porres was born in Lima Peru in 1579 to a black mother and a Spanish gentleman. He first entered the Dominican Priory in Lima at the age of 11 as a servant. Later, he applied to be accepted as a lay brother since he could not apply for the priesthood because of his color. He was trained as a pharmacist and soon used his gifts and talents to heal both humans and animals. He lived such a life of heroic sanctity that even while he was alive, many miracles were attributed to him. After he died, he was famed as a miracle worker.

The legend of St. Martin de Porres came with the Dominican missionaries to Vietnam in 1527. The Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to arrive in Vietnam in 1516. As the Dominican missionaries evangelized the people of Vietnam, they introduced them to the cult of their confrere, Martin de Porres, whose fame as a helper in extreme cases had spread all over the world through the Dominican missionaries.

The cult of St. Martin de Porres exploded after Martin was officially canonized a saint in 1963. As a young boy growing up in my native country Nigeria, I had chosen the name of Martin de Porres as my confirmation name.

Vietnam has a large number of Dominican institutions made up of convents, seminaries, schools and parishes. These institutions were a fertile soil for the cult to flourish. The masses of Vietnam saw in Martin one of their own and an ever present help in their seemingly stubborn social and economic problems.

The people of Vietnam suffered very much during the Vietnam War. They found comfort in devotions to the saint. Some years after the war in 1975, thousands of Vietnamese fled their home land for America. They prayed fervently to St. Martin to take them to America and many such prayers where answered. The Vietnamese never forgot this favor when they settled in the US.

What does St. George, St. Joan of Arc and St. Martin de Porres have in common? All are patron saints of three countries: England, France and Vietnam. Great legends have spun around their lives.

Carl Jung writing on mythology said, “Myth is the revelation of divine life in man. It is not we who invent myth; rather it speaks to us as a Word of God.” (Memories, Dreams, Reflections).

Although St. Martin was already popular in Dominican establishments in the United States, the coming of the Vietnamese brought fervor to the cult of the popular saint.

Many people in the US will be aware that the day after Halloween is All Saints Day. This is a solemn feast for Catholics all over the world. November 2 is All Souls Day, when the dead are remembered through Masses and liturgical prayers. When Sister Josephine invited me to attend a Mass in honor of St. Martin de Porres on November 2 at the Vietnamese Dominican Convent, I was certain that she made a mistake about the schedule. I did not believe that any feast other than that of All Souls will be permitted on that day. So I double checked to make sure that something was happening before I left home for the Dominican Convent.

It was a Saturday morning with breezy and cool wind. The crowd overflowed the large square in front of the convent with a huge statue of St. Martin de Porres. My experience in the two hour ceremony gave birth to this article idea. On that day, I experienced the transforming power of a legend in the life of a people.

November 3 is the feast of St. Martin de Porres.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Mere Children

“See that you never despise any of these little ones, for I tell you that their angels in heaven are continually in the presence of my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18: 10)

God loves the little ones, the “mere children.” What is Christ’s teaching on little children?

  • Allow the little children to come to me, for it such as these that belong the kingdom of God.

  • Unless you receive the kingdom of heaven as these little ones, you shall not see it.

  • Whoever corrupts these little ones will suffer dearly for it.

  • Do not despise any of these little ones.

It is clear that Jesus has a preferential option for little children. What is our attitude to little children? Is it marked by impatience, prejudice and even cruelty?

Lord teach us to love little children as you do.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

What is in 10?

"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Once there were ten girls who took their oil lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and the other five were wise “(Matthew 25: 1-2).

"Or suppose a woman who had ten silver coins loses one of them - what does she do?” (Luke 15:8)

"As Jesus made his way to Jerusalem, he went along the border between Samaria and Galilee. He was going into a village when he was met by ten men suffering from a dreaded skin disease " (Luke 17: 11-120.

The number Ten has always fascinated me. There are ten fingers and ten toes. There are Ten Commandments. Robert Schuller's , in his book, TOUGH TIMES DO NOT LAST BUT TOUGH PEOPLE DO teaches how to count to ten and win.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Teaching with Authority

“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth.” (John 8: 31-32)

Divine truth is what doctrine is all about. Jesus Christ taught this truth with authority. Even his enemies acknowledged this.

I have seen teachers who compromise the truth and weaken their teaching authority. They bring in speculation into their teaching. Why do they do this? They want to appear erudite. They may also want to appear sympathetic to the point of view of their audience.

To teach the truth, you must know the Truth, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

St Theresa

"The Lord nurtured and taught her; he guarded her as the apple of his eye. As the eagle spreads its wings to carry its young, he bore her on his shoulders. The Lord alone was her leader"(Deut 32: 10-12)

St Theresa of the Child Jesus was born in Alencon, France in 1873. As a young girl, she entered the Carmelite convent at Lisieux, where she developed rapidly into a spiritual adult. She burned these words of Jesus into her heart: "Unless you change and become like little children, says the Lord, you shall not enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 18:3) St Theresa of the Child Jesus modeled her life to that of the little child of Matthew 18:3. This explains her popularity and immense appeal to countless devotees all over the world. She died on September 30, 1897. Her feast day is the 1st of October.

Quotes from St Theresa
"The Doctor of doctors teaches us without the sound of words. I have never heard Him speak, and yet I know He is within my soul. Every moment He is guiding and inspiring me, and, just at the moment I need them, `lights' till then unseen are granted me. Most often it is not at prayer that they come but while I go about my daily duties" ("The Story of a Soul", Chapter 8).