Blog & Pastor Letters

Jesus and the Quest for Leadership in a Fragmented World

11-24-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

The virtue of human life is to be content with what you have. What makes life meaningful is the ability to acknowledge the blessings we receive from family and friends. If you grumble every day because of what you don't have, you may not appreciate what you have. On the other hand, if everyone got what they ever wanted, they may grow up to be arrogant. It however does not diminish the desire to seek what you want by keeping a positive attitude that those things can materialize tomorrow. Hope therefore, is a virtue that urges you to keep a positive posture that your dreams will come true someday.

From all indications, a review of the world's woes can directly be attributable to individuals who feel dissatisfied by certain standards in the world. Instead of accepting opposing views, they indulge in violent means towards a resolution as compared to a dialogue. The number of dissenting voices or groups is growing day by day and the effect of their collective dissatisfaction has rendered many innocent souls destabilized. This makes leadership uniquely important in guiding nations, peoples, individuals, or groups towards convening at the dialogue table to resolve those glaring differences. Most often the leadership gaps we identify can either increase the tensions between dissenting groups or lessen our focus for solutions.

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The End of the World

11-17-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

Throughout the history of the world, humans have obsessed themselves with how the world will end. It is natural to ask whether the world we live in will end at some point in time. But let us pause a moment to ask equally whether humans truly understand the origins of human life? Indeed, scientists have developed many theories on the origins of human life. Credit must be given to them for the research theories such as the theory of evolution or the big band theory. All these theories and many unpopular ones only reflect our desire to understand where we came from and what will happen to us. In a way, this gives credit to the human desire to ask about how the end will be.

Answers to the question of the end of the world are based on human observation on factors such as wars, weather, migration, economic imbalances, or other natural forces. As long as the world exists, humans will keep speculating on how the world will end.

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Marriage, Remarriage, and the Resurrection

11-10-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

In March 2016, Pope Francis released a document entitled Amoris Laetitia about the family. In it, the pontiff discusses marriage and his position on divorced Catholics who remarry civilly. For a long time, the Church has always taught that those who separate after a Catholic sacramental marriage and remarry in the civil way, cannot receive Holy Communion. In Chapter eight, the pope indicated that this could change through "discernment regarding the possible access to the sacraments of some of those who are divorced and in a new union." He chose his words carefully for the understanding in the Catholic world and beyond. A whole series of dialogue continues whether remarried couples in the civil way can receive Holy Communion.

Prior to this exhortation by Pope Francis, there were two Synods of Bishops on the Family in October 2014 and in 2015 in Rome. The pope seems to indicate that his position in Amoris Laetitia is based on the fruits of these two synods. Many dioceses all over the Catholic world have been studying the exhortation carefully in order not to water down the centuries-old teaching of the Church. Remarried couples like any other Catholics, need salvation through the reception of the sacraments of the Church. But this does not mean that the teachings of the Church should be reduced to accommodate couples who do not remarry in the Church but choose to do so in the civil way. By not recognizing the importance of the sacrament of marriage, they alienate themselves from Holy Communion.

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Salvation For All People

11-03-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

The story of Zacchaeus is a popular biblical discourse that bible students never easily forget because "he was short in stature." The story of Zacchaeus is always interesting to read. I often ask myself why Zacchaeus had to give half his possessions to the poor or promise to repay four times all those he had extorted. I often ask myself why a man of great wealth could dispose of it for no just reason. Was he excited by meeting Jesus? Finding answers to these questions to know the state of mind of Zacchaeus may be difficult. But reflecting on the story reveals that he desired a better life. The gospel tells us that he was from Jericho, and he was the chief tax collector of that town. By knowing his profession, we can say that he was familiar with cash flows. I can imagine how much money he extorted from the citizens on behalf of the Romans.

From reading biblical commentaries, I know that tax collectors increased percentages on amounts they collected in order to cover their administrative costs. As the chief tax collector, I imagine that Zacchaeus had a staff that was large and aggressive in collecting taxes. This job gave him fame and made him infamous for two reasons. While the Roman authorities pressured Zacchaeus to collect taxes for the numerous projects of the empire, he, in turn, pressured the citizens to pay or be locked up. Some unlucky citizens were even sold to cover their taxes. The Romans considered tax evasion a criminal offense. So, imagine Zacchaeus in the middle of these two sides: always receiving and always giving.

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Politics, Religion and Justification

10-27-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

Many years ago, Catholics were taught that politics is a dirty venture and that politicians speak from both sides of their mouths. They say one thing today and tomorrow their interest shifts to another. Henry Kissinger, the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Secretary of State once said, "America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests." While the interpretation of this saying can vary depending on political ideology, this makes the subject of politics a heated one. Politicians do not have permanent friends or enemies but self-interests that serve their goals. The three presidential debates leading to the US elections on November 8, have given us inklings to what politicians can do or can say just to clinch the exalted position of president.

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Prayer, Persistence, and Seeking Jusce

10-20-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

The dishonest judge in today's gospel is a story told by Jesus to illustrate to us how persistence, of any kind, can pay off at the end. Although the dishonest judge neither feared God nor man, he was moved by pity to render justice to the widow. The words Jesus used in describing the two actors are perfect for understanding the situation. "While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being, because this widow keeps bothering me, I shall deliver a just decision for her lest she finally come and strike me." The widow feared that justice could be perverted against her. The hope she had was persisting until the judge was on her side.

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Jesus and the Ten Lepers

10-13-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease (HD), is an infectious disease that afflicts mostly the skin and eyes. It causes great discomfort to the victim. The good news is that modern medicine can cure leprosy now with the right doses of antibiotics. The bad news is that at the time of Jesus, lepers were not so lucky with any cure. They were removed from the community and kept at the outskirt of any town to prevent infecting whole communities. The isolation of lepers from the community is still practiced as a precautionary measure against the rise of an epidemic. We may liken leprosy to the epidemic of Ebola which has devastated communities in Africa. Medical science is still battling to provide a cure to this virus.

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The Challenge of Living the Faith Today

10-06-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (2010), 32% of the world's population professes the Christian faith. The largest numbers of Christians are found in Mexico with over 107 million that is 95% of the population; Brazil has 175 million that is 90.2% of the population; and the United States has 246 million Christians that is 79.5% of the population. In another perspective, Europe has 25.9% Christians, Sub-Saharan Africa has 23.6% Christians, the Americas have 36.6% Christians, the East Pacific has 13.1% Christians, and the Middle East and North Africa has 0.06% Christians.

From the numbers and statistics above, we can see that Christianity has a large following across the world. We can notice that the birthplace of Christianity has base number. Persecution and immigration account for the low stats. However, the number of world Christians is 2.2 billion constituting 32% out of the over 7 billion population of the world.

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Dreams of Changing the World

09-29-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

I recently saw a quote that summarized how I was feeling that morning after morning Mass. It says, "When you are young, you dream of changing the world. But when you are old, you regret that you could not even change yourself." I can't remember the author of this quote, but I found the words applicable about the imbalances in the world. We have the poor, so do we also have the rich.

There are those who live in violent environments and those who live in relatively peaceful locations. I have read about war crimes; people running away from war regions or people starving to death because they have no food to eat. On the other hand, there are people who enjoy abundant wealth with dreams of a more luxurious life. It is not a crime to be poor or to be rich. It is only human to wonder why these imbalances exist, and then we theorize on how to close the gaps.

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Salvation and God’s Impartiality

09-22-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

The parable of the vineyard is a call by Jesus to all Christians to reflect about God's immeasurable love. In the parable there is an indication of partiality by the landowner because he paid all the laborers a fair daily wage. Anybody in his right senses would grumble after working lengthy hours of the day only to receive the same amount with another who worked less hours. From the viewpoint of the early laborers, the blame is on the landowner for not differentiating their wages with the latecomers. As for those who arrived late, they have nothing to lose because the landowner showed his generosity and paid them an equal daily wage.

This parable by Jesus opens our understanding of God's invitation to both the sinner and the saint to come into his kingdom. From our viewpoint as people who struggle to obey God's commandment, we may perceive the sinner as unsuitable to be saved. Often times, we base salvation on our commitment to religious duties, and in the process, we condemn those who are not in sync with what we do. But before God, the door is open for both the saint and the sinner to come in based on the generosity of God.

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The Christian and the Cross of Jesus

09-15-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

The Christian faith seeks understanding about things of the world and things of the hereafter. To seek answers about our world and our eternal journey is a duty and a privilege. The reason for this attitude is because dualities exist in the world that makes us question changing levels in our lives. Why do good people suffer and wicked people prosper? Can the Christian find any hope living in the world filled with suffering?

We can find some answers in the life of Jesus. The Christian finds answers from Jesus himself when he said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it." From this answer, we can clearly understand that Jesus did not promise a bed of roses to his believers. The cross has come to represent suffering and pain. However, since Jesus resurrected from the death, all believers must translate life's negatives into higher values leading to eternal life. Jesus promised that by taking up one's cross every day, it can lead to the salvation that endures.

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Counting the Cost with Jesus

09-08-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

The choices we make produce either a positive or a negative result. No persons in their right mind allows negative results to dominate their actions unless they are sociopathic. When you experience pain and sadness due to your bad choices, you may reconsider adjusting the kind of choices you make. When you continue to make mistakes and suffer negatively as a result of your choices, you refuse to count the cost of what you are doing. At the end of the day, you may harm yourself and produce a habit that becomes part of your behavior as a human being.

What makes a man or woman to say, 'I carry my cross by myself'? When you hear this, it means that the person is taking responsibility for their actions, or they are suffering alone with no support. Human life is experienced differently, and every human being must understand the consequences of their decisions. Jesus says, "Which of you wishing to construct a tower does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if there is enough for its completion?" Jesus is advising us to weigh the cost of our decisions before we delve into the wrong venture. And he advises that before you go to war with an enemy, count the number of troops that can give you a win. In making the wrong move, you suffer greatly for making the wrong choices.

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Humility is a Golden Virtue

09-01-2019Weekly ReflectionRev. Victor C. Yakubu

The Christian life is fashioned after the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Although Jesus was God, he humbled himself and lived among us as a man. Although he was rich, he became poor for our sake. Instead of living in luxury as a King, he chose a simple life and lived with Mary, and Joseph the carpenter. His birth was in a manger. When he began his ministry at the age of 30, he did everything possible to change the ugly attitudes of people for only 3 years. This task of changing people's worldview was a difficult one.

He did miracles to satisfy his crowds and to demonstrate to them the power of God. He told many stories about everyday life to illustrate to the people that God loved a humble heart and frowned at a boastful one. He became a source of pain to those who did not want a change from their dangerous way of living.

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