As we inch closer to the celebration of Easter, we reflect on the death of Lazarus, the brother of two prominent biblical figures, Martha and Mary. The gospel tells us that Lazarus, from Bethany, was ill and eventually died. It was painful for the two sisters to lose an only brother. Death is part of being human but painful. Jesus arrived in Bethany four days after the death of Lazarus, to sympathize with the family for their loss. The agony, the pain of loss and the tears had not eased when Jesus arrived with his disciples. Everybody thought that Jesus would do the usual -- empathize with them. But he went out of his way to do the unusual, open the grave of the dead man.READ MORE
I grew up in the rural part of Nigeria where the food is organic, and the air is unpolluted. I grew up knowing how to interpret the weather and predict what the outcome could be. Weather forecasting by television was absent so I relied on my instincts and guts to avoid a thunderstorm and by safe. When I saw dark clouds from the east, rain would probably fall. If there was a big rainbow crisscrossing the skies from north to south shining out of the clouds, possibly the rain wouldn't fall. I knew what a thunderstorm and lightning could do to a tender body like mine, so I was told to run to safety to escape a strike.READ MORE
Americans love their food and they love it fast. The fast food industry is one of the most successful enterprises in modern history because when people want their meal, they want it now. Many hungry people cannot tolerate delays. As they rush to grab their food, that is how they rush to the next function. It has become the norm to order a meal and it is delivered in a short period. A family can order pizzas or hamburgers, and everybody is happy munching and watching a movie. There are instances when patrons at a fast food joint line up at the end of long lines. When they eventually get a chance to order their meal and it is not served quickly, they flare up. Moses lost his patience in the desert of Egypt because he oversaw many people who were hungry and angry, and he could not keep them from going astray.READ MORE
Long before God called Abraham, he was an uprightman. God told him to leave his father’s house for aland he knew nothing about. The Book of Genesistells us that God commanded him to leave Ur of theChaldeans for Canaan and begin a new life. Not onlythat, God promised to make Abraham’s name great;bless him in all his ways, curse those who cursedhim, and make all the communities of the earth blesshis name as the father of many nations. The name ofAbram therefore changed to Abraham to representhis new status, and the seal of the covenant with Yahweh.READ MORE
One of the inspirational quotes I love from Pope Francis is about confession. He said, "The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord's mercy motivates us to do better." I find this quote inspirational because the season of Lent is not a period of torture or humiliation but that of reflection about God's Mercy. The "Day of Ashes" Ash Wednesday is also known, reminds us of our nothingness before God who is the creator of the world and ruler of all.
The story of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis chapters 2 and 3 illustrates the gross disobedience of our first parents. God clearly instructs them not to eat of the forbidden tree, but Adam and Eve defied God and disrespected his commands and ate of it. Their action became a negation of God's desire for them to live solely under his rule. Their action introduces the concept of sin in the world. Since Adam and Eve chose to follow their will, they knew instantly that they were "naked" a symbolism for loss of innocence, self-worth, and a self-realization of unworthiness.READ MORE
According to the introductory lines of the Open Doors Report (2016) titled Freedom of Religion and the Persecution of Christians, ‘the persecution of Christians is getting worse –in every region in which we work –and It is getting worse fast.” The analysis of this statement shows that religious extremism is becoming worse in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, and Central Asia. And North Korea is the worst place to be a Christian. By far, the report indicates that the rise of Islamic extremism in sub-Saharan Africa dwarfs when compared to the violence in the Middle East. The persecution of Christians from across the world is fueled by factors such as Islamic extremism, religious nationalism, tribal antagonism, denominational protectionism, communist oppression, aggressive secularism, organized corruption, and totalitarian paranoia.READ MORE
Jack Myers' The Future of Men: Masculinity in the Twenty-First Century (2016) is a good read for building healthy relationships between men and women. The concept of gender war has caused untold pain to men and women of every generation. Instead of making life meaningful we seek greedy living that further confuses our values of what life is all about. Nonetheless there is nothing new under the sun (Read Eccl. 1:9) and it is amazing how human societies have evolved. For instance, the concept of urban or rural living suggests greater cooperation between the genders in building peaceful societies as compared to lawless republics. One thing is sure; the survival of humans on the face of the earth depends on their ability to respect their laws.READ MORE
The Greek sage Aristotle once said, "Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime." I reflected on these words for a few days and I found sense in his words. I read more witty quotes from the life of Jesus. The public ministry of Jesus unveiled his mission and vision to the people of Israel. With no contact with the people, Jesus could not have displayed such altruism in dealing with the issues of those he met. Yet, through his daily contact with the ordinary people he demonstrated his inner love for them. He was able to match words with action, and the people could relate with him because they needed a simple man with simple answers to their complex problems.READ MORE
In my few years in this country, I often get touched by narratives of parents talking about their children. The byline I often hear is, "My kid is a good kid." When a parent talks about their child this way, it reflects the approach to family upbringing. I'm touched the most when I see a grandparent relating with their grandchildren as they just walk together as friends. It is soothing for both children and grandparents. Coming from an extended family myself in Africa, I reminisce how I relied on my grandparents to learn the hard lessons of life.
Although we always disagreed on many issues, they used their better judgment to guide me and to show me all about life and what the future could be. When I look back at some of my interactions with them, I can only praise their sense of judgment, patience and love for me; a child without experience.READ MORE
The influence of Paul in Christianity is based on his missionary journeys around the towns and cities adjoining the Mediterranean Sea. His name will always be remembered among Christians because he is a role model in spreading the gospel of Jesus to distant lands far from Jerusalem. In his early life, Paul was not a Christian himself, but his encounter with Jesus on the way to Damascus to arrest 'believers in the way,' reformed him. He became an apostle specially appointed by Jesus to preach to the Gentiles. He had major missionary journeys mainly to people in the Hellenistic culture. The popular towns and cities Paul evangelized are Corinth, Ephesus, Galatia, Philippi, Thessaloniki, Rome, and others. Eventually he wrote letters to these locations instructing the new converts to stay firm in the faith. He produced many spiritual writings about the faith and sixteen enjoy a place in the bible.READ MORE
After the celebratory engagements of Christmas and New Year, we face the next stage in God's revelation about the personality of Jesus. The work of John the Baptist is not yet over. There is one important event he must accomplish: Introduce Jesus.
John the Baptist refused to accept that he was the Messiah. He did not know Jesus when he was baptizing people by the Jordan River. In fact, he was performing all the baptisms by the river so that the personality of the Messiah could be identified. After so many baptisms, Jesus appeared before John needing to be baptized like others. It was at this encounter that John recognized Jesus by the signs God revealed to him. Biblical theologians give us many signs, but we but here we note only two significant signs. The first sign is the appearance of the Spirit upon Jesus like a dove. The second sign is the divine confirmation through the voice of the Father. John knew that Jesus was the Chosen One.READ MORE
One Sunday, I had only one candidate for baptism after Mass. The family arrived well before the Mass ended and took up positions in the front pews ready for the baptism of their lovely baby. Since I had the afternoon Mass, I dressed up appropriately in the sacristy and proceeded to the altar to start the initiation of this lovely baby into the Christian faith. The baby was dressed all in white, but he was busy having his lunch from a small feeding bottle and his face beamed with angelic smiles. I was later told that his father ﬂew in from Germany to attend his son's baptism. What a proud family! An older child was beside them wondering "who's this baby that has taken my position as the number one in the family." I guess the father of this baby is in the military because I could see his haircut was neat and his body looked as ﬁt like as a ﬁddle. The mother was there with her dress, elegant and beautiful and as happy as every woman can be. Beside her were three people; a couple as baptism sponsors of the baby and one lady as witness.READ MORE
In 2012, we watched the London Olympics. It was one of the highlights of 2012 in sports. It made me wish I was a young boy again with a ﬂexible body. I used to do acroba cs during my high school days but no more. Can you imagine how those Olympians prac ced winning the gold for themselves and their countries? They spent endless hours swea ng, rehearsing, and accep ng correc ons from their coaches.
Did you see Usain Bolt, the Jamaican who is considered the fastest man alive? What about the US women gymnasts? They won gold. I cannot forget the admiration that greeted those young ladies when I saw them on The Late Show w/ David Letterman. Dave teased them, drilled them with questions and even oﬀered to go to the next Olympics just to get the gold like they did. The audience went into laughter. I did also in my little room facing my TV. Gold is precious and if you win gold you can appear on many TV shows both at home and abroad. At the end of the London Olympics, America came in ﬁrst with 104 medals, followed by the People's Republic of China with 88 medals and in third place was the Russian Federation with 82 medals. Great Britain, the host nation, came in fourth with 65.READ MORE