Saturday, March 20, 2021

The seed that does not die remains a single seed.

"Amen, Amen I say to you: Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains a single grain. But if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 12: 24).

Sunday 21st March 2021, in the 5th Week in Lent.

Our key Scripture for the 5th Sunday of Lent poses an existential question to each of us:
Do you want to be a single impotent seed on the shelf or do you trust in Jesus and die to yourself and produce a rich harvest of seeds - thousands upon thousands?

How does the seed produce multitude of seeds? It is buried in the ground. You too must be buried in the ground. How?
#1. You must embrace the way of Jesus. It is a vital necessity for Jesus to suffer before He inherits His kingdom. (Cf Luke 24: 26).
This is the will of the Father and the way that Jesus embraced. Must it be different for us?

#2. What  obstacles  are preventing you from making a full commitment to Jesus? Career, family, health, finance, etc? Consider who gave you all these gifts in the first place.

#3. We must learn and be strengthened by the examples of the Saints. They are family now enjoying the vision of God in Heaven and continuous beautiful music. Do you know that sweet music is the one thing we have on earth that we will find in Heaven? 

What will happen if you refuse to fall on the ground, die and multiply? You will abide alone. Where? You guess it.

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Friday, March 19, 2021

Why is Jesus still a cause of divisions?

"So a division occurred in the crowd because of him [Jesus]." (John 7: 43).

Saturday 20th March 2021, in the 4th Week in Lent.

As Jesus embarked in His public ministry, dissension and division followed Him everywhere. No surprise at all because Simeon prophesied this to Mary and Joseph in the Temple during the Presentation of Jesus.

"Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted." (Luke 2: 34).

Jesus was born to be a sign of contradiction. This is true while he was walking the muddy terrain of Galilee as it is today, 2000 years after He ascended into Heaven. Let us consider the cause of dissensions about Jesus in 2021:

#1. Ignorance: The dissenters in the days of Jesus could have easily learned that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and not in Nazareth. They did not care to find out. "Ignorance of Scripture is Ignorance of Christ." (St Jerome).

#2. Today, people can look at the religious terrain in Christianity and ask: Did Jesus truly found 60,000 churches?  They don't ask because they are comfortable with the present arrangement.

#3. The doctrine of Jesus is too harsh and restrictive. Why can't people destroy babies in the womb if they choose to or marry whoever  they wish?

#4. Who is this Jesus to tell us how to live our lives?

“Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted," proclaims prophecy. The Day of reckoning is coming. It came for the Jews in 70 AD. It will come for everyone sooner than later.

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Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Feast of St Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her." (Matthew 1: 20).

Friday 19th March 2021, in the 4th Week in Lent, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of St Joseph, the Spouse of the Immaculate Virgin.

Contemplate the Christmas crib for a moment. We see the Woman, Mary and then the Infant Jesus lying in the feeding trough of lambs. Who is the man standing still and upright gazing at the Baby quietly? Our key Scripture from the Gospel of Matthew identifies him as: "Joseph, son of David."

Here is what we know about Joseph:
#1. Joseph is from the royal line of David.
#2. A carpenter by trade and a man of humble means.
#3. He is a just and honest man.
#4. Because it was not good for a woman with child to be alone, God chose Joseph to provide for Mary and Jesus; to protect them and to be foster father to Jesus and raise Him up in virtue and manly manners.

Joseph excelled in all the roles that Divine Providence entrusted to him.

Joseph is the patron saint of the Church and a powerful intercessor for the Church and us all. He is also the patron saint of a happy death. Do you know that we are in the Year of St Joseph? The Holy Father, Pope Francis proclaimed a “Year of Saint Joseph” from 8 December 2020, to 8 December 2021. To read the Apostolic Letter and see how to receive all the blessings and indulgences, click the link below:

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Wednesday, March 17, 2021

The Feast of the Master Catechist, St Cyril of Jerusalem.

"But Moses implored the Lord, his God, saying, “Why, O Lord, should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a strong hand?" (Exodus 32: 11).

Thursday 18th March 2021, in the 4th Week in Lent is the feast of St Cyril of Jerusalem. Bishop and Doctor of the Church. (315 - 386). St Cyril was the Archbishop of Jerusalem when the Arian heresy disturbed the peace of the Church all over the Roman Empire.

Cyril vigorously defended the unchangeable teachings of the Church. For this, he suffered multiple exiles from the See of Jerusalem. St Cyril is recognized in history by his catechetical works. He prepared multitudes of Catechumens to receive Baptism and helped the Neophytes after Easter to grow in the faith. What is really providential in the work and legacy of San Cyrillo is that he documented his teachings which have come to us. His writings of over 1600 years ago prove that the Catholic Church is the same in teachings and beliefs in late 300s as she is today. Nothing has changed.

Our key Scripture for today presents us with one of the most important subject in religion. At the very heart of religion is Intercession. Intercession means standing in the gap for an offender and pleading that his sins or crimes be forgiven or that the offender be given a reduced sentence. Intercession or mediation is the most important task of priests. Jesus Christ, our Eternal High Priest is our Chief Intercessor. In the first Reading, we see Moses as the intercessor.

"Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and how you swore to them by your own self.." ( Exodus 32: 13). Moses reminds God.

Abraham, Jacob, David, Daniel and all the prophets were all intercessors. When you pray for your spouse and children, you are an intercessor. At that moment, you are a priest in the family. What is the best outcome of the prayer of intercession?

"So the Lord changed his mind about the punishment he had threatened to inflict on his people." (Exodus 32: 14). Prayer moves God.

Anchor your prayer of intercession on the promises of God. Where do you find these promises? In the Bible? God's promises are our armor and protection. (Cf Psalm 91: 4).

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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

St Patrick, a Missionary Hero.

"Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you." (Isaiah 49: 15).

Wednesday 17th March 2021, the feast of St Patrick. (389 - 461). British-Irish. Bishop and great Missionary. Patron saint of Ireland and Nigeria. St Patrick teaches us that persistence in prayer breaks resistance. St Patrick had a great desire to become a priest. He was opposed by powerful clerics because he was considered too old and not able to withstand the rigors of the studies involved. Convinced by the intensity of his desire, he persisted. Result: St Patrick is one of the most powerful priests that ascended the Altar of God. 

Our key Scripture for today uses a strong feminine metaphor to describe God's love for us. A woman suffering from postpartum insanity can forget the child of her womb. But God says that He is unable to forget us.

Our saint of today, St Patrick is one of the greatest missionaries in the history of the Church. Born British, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates and forced to work for years as a slave. There were times Patrick believed that God had forsaken and forgotten him. His life of prayer helped him to overcome his pessimism and to understand that God's love for him is stronger than any mother could possibly love his son. Some of us may have experienced some period of great trial and may have asked: "O God, where are You?" We remember Jesus' cry from the Cross.

God's plan for us allows hardships in order to equip us adequately for our future mission. "Accept your trials as discipline from a Father training you as a son." (Cf Hebrews 12: 7). Think of Joseph in Egypt, David, Jacob, Daniel.

God promises: "Thus says the Lord:
In a time of favor I answer you, on the day of salvation I help you." (Isaiah 49: 8).

God is faithful and will answer us in His time of favor. In the fullness of time, He makes everything beautiful. (Cf Ecclesiastes 3: 11).
The experience of St Patrick and all the heroes of our Faith mentioned above vindicates this.

Wait for the Lord. Be strong and wait for the Lord.

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Monday, March 15, 2021

Jesus is passing by and asking: Do you want to be healed?

"When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been ill for a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be well?” (John 5: 6).

Tuesday 16th March 2021, in the 4th Week in Lent.

Once upon a time, I struggled with alcohol abuse. I kept it secret and tried everything I knew to heal myself. Persistence did not break the resistance of the demons holding me captive. Then one Saturday afternoon, in the Sacrament of Penance, I confessed this same sin again. As I got to the pew and knelt down to do my penance, I heard distinctly an inner voice: "If you want, I can heal you." I said: "Yes Lord. Heal me." I have not touched a drop of alcohol since that day. It has been over 25 years.

Our Gospel of today records the encounter of Jesus with a crippled man. Jesus knew he had been in this condition for 38 years. What the man did not know was that Jesus was not there by chance or accident. Jesus had a divine appointment with the Crippled on that day and place and time. Happily the crippled man was ready and received his healing.

We are saved by grace through faith. The day Jesus freed me from the oppression of alcohol by His merciful love, I received a free gift but I cooperated with Jesus like the crippled man by saying "Yes Lord. Heal me."

Where do you need healing in your life? Jesus is always passing by. Are you ready for Him?

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Sunday, March 14, 2021

This is the kind of faith and obedience we need.

"Jesus said to him [Royal Official], “You may go; your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and left." (John 4: 50).

Monday 15th March 2021, in the 4th Week in Lent.

Our faith contains our obedience. We see the example in the Gospel of today. To say that "I believe" and act contrary to what you believe is not faith but hypocrisy.

In our key Scripture for today, we see an example of faith. Faith is the radical trust and confidence in the word of Christ.
“Go,” Jesus replied, “your son will live.” The man took Jesus at his word and departed."

If any Christian invests time and resources to learn what Faith is and how Faith works, the harvest will be incredibly huge and this gift will keep giving and giving all your life.

Consider Faith as Obedience. The Royal Official heard Jesus say: Don't worry. Go home. Your son is OK. He believes and went home. He obeyed the directive. No questions. No arguments. Are you able to imitate his action and show the Obedience of Faith?

Consider also that the man's faith was prepared by what he heard about Jesus before he met Him.
"When he heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, who was near death."

When we read the Gospel, we see many healings and miracles. The stories are preparing us to believe and deepen our Faith in Jesus. You do not know when you will stand face to face with Jesus needing His help. Faith comes from hearing. Hearing the word of God and believing it.

"As for me, I trust in the Lord.  Let me be glad and rejoice in your mercy, for you have seen my affliction." (Psalm 31: 7 - 8).

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