St. Augustine is quoted as saying, “The New Testament is hidden in the Old, and the Old Testament is revealed in the New.” As I pondered today’s readings, looking for a theme, I could not shake the notion of prophecy as the theme. These readings sparkle with the connections between prophecy and the fulfillment of the coming of Christ the Messiah. As we look at some of these connections we have to consider, how could anyone not see the fulfillment of Christ in the Gospels.
Let’s begin with the dialogue between Moses and the Lord regarding the message Moses is to give to the Israelites.READ MORE
In last week’s readings the theme was a calling to discipleship. Young Samuel is called by God, and Samuel responds by saying, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” In the Gospel of John, John the Baptist announces Jesus as the Lamb of God, and two of his disciples turn and follow Jesus. In the former, God calls Samuel directly; in the latter the calling is a calling of the heart. Samuel was already serving God by being an acolyte of the priest Eli. The two disciples of John the Baptist were already in a preliminary discipleship. These, you could say, were a calling of the righteous. Yet in the Second Reading last week, St. Paul is calling us to turn away from a material life, a life dominated by the body, an immoral life to a life of the Holy Spirit through whom our bodies have become a temple. There is a noticeable distinction between a calling of the righteous and a calling of sinners. St. Paul’s preaching of repentance, however, connects us to today’s readings, of which the primary theme is repentance, a calling of sinners.READ MORE
“Behold, the Lamb of God.” This is a comforting phrase. It may be the most comforting verse in Scripture, although that is saying a lot. Why is it comforting? Because it speaks to our heart. St. Thomas Aquinas, in many ways, tells us that human nature has an intrinsic desire for God. He derives this from his theology of the soul. Of the noble faculties of the soul is the intellect, and the will. The intellect is constantly seeking what is true and the will is constantly seeking what is good. Together they (we) respond to those things that match this desire in both ways. When something is true, it isn’t necessarily good, but when something is good I can’t imagine it not being true.READ MORE
Pope Francis appoints new Cardinals from around the Catholic world. Appointing a Cardinal in the Catholic Church is a recognition by the Holy Father, which in another way, is a call by God to a higher responsibility. The position is next in rank to that of the pontiff and one can be appointed a pope in the future as well.
As I read the news on Vatican websites, I notice that the appointments are always spread mainly from Catholic populations across the world especially among minorities. For example, Myanmar (also known as Burma) has never had a Cardinal until 2015. Thus, the appointment of Archbishop Charles Maung Bo, the Archbishop of Yangon was meant to enhance the faith of over 700,000 Catholics amid 50 million Burmese of other faiths. While some criticize the appointment of Archbishop Bo because of his age, the Vatican feels that the wisdom of this old man will unite all other faiths in Myanmar and shine the light of Jesus in the region.READ MORE
Every morning as I set out for Mass, many thoughts rise with me from my bed. The faces I see today at morning Mass are the likely faces I will see again tomorrow. They sit down meditating and patiently waiting for Mass to begin. I find this highly encouraging for my ministry, and above all, for my spiritual life. I always remember the admonishment of the Bible which says, ‘Remember your Creator in the days in your youth’ (Ecclesiastes 12:1). It is necessary to use the time at hand to pray and honor God in the hay days of our lives.
Comparing attendance from what I know of Nigeria and here in the USA, the enthusiasm is the same. Catholics love the Eucharist and those who attend do so because of their faith. However, the demographics of those attending daily Masses differ between my previous experience of ministry in Nigeria and what I see here. While in Nigeria, I see faces of all ages attend Mass, here it is the old folks that impress me most in the morning. And this is one big reason which makes my sunrise exciting with joy.
My point is not condemning the younger generation because they have to go to school or work, but in praising the efforts of the older generations for their enthusiasm and commitment to nourishing their Catholic life. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was always found at Mass and her encouraged Catholics to attend every morning before they begin their busy schedules. With the pandemic, we need to be careful about our health. However, we need to have time to pray at Mass.
Sometimes we ask, “how can one become a saint?” Here is a simple answer. The saints were not extraordinary people by the privilege of birth. No, the saints were ordinary people who did the ordinary things of life in extraordinary ways. In doing so, they etched their names on a solid path to sainthood as exemplary people that others can emulate because they struggle against imperfections. In the vision of St. John, the beloved apostle, he saw a multitude of people from every nation, innumerable, and impossible to count. These were people who washed themselves in the ‘blood of the Lamb’ through sacrificing their time for the things of God while they lived in the world. Every the individual is given 24 hours in a day, and the the way these hours are utilized depends on an individual’s time management skills. While few remember that worship is important at the beginning of the day, others are in a rush to finish their to-do lists.READ MORE
There is so much talk about love that it is easy to find tons of material on the subject. From movies to fiction novels, we discover the human ability to love and be loved. The beauty of human love is deeply appreciated when love is unconditional and from the heart.
Hatred often creeps into human life and things do not add up as expected. The world today needs love as we see pictures of violence and terrible inhuman acts perpetrated by human beings capable of loving and being loved. It is even more worrisome when religion is used as a cover wreaking havoc on the weak, the innocent and destroying the defenseless.Unfortunately, the story is not always that way.
My position is that religion is supposed to make you a better person but then, when something is wrong with your practice do not blame the religion per se. The book of Exodus should be read with the background of suffering in Egypt of God’s chosen people. For over four hundred years, they labored as slaves under harsh conditions, until God saved them through Moses.
In today’s first reading, God is urging them to consider acts of kindness to aliens, widows, and orphans. “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry.” God is encouraging the Israelites to be kind, considerate, and merciful to these categories of people and indeed to their neighbors who look different than them.READ MORE
In October 2014 Pope Francis convened a Synod on the Family to discuss contemporary issues affecting the Catholic family. The first session started that October 2014 and the final session ended on October 2015. At the end of the first session, Pope Francis canonized Pope Paul VI, the pope who gave us the encyclical Humane Vitae (On Human Life) in 1968. In April 2014, Pope Francis canonized Pope John XXIII in recognition of initiating the Second Vatican Council in 1963. He also canonized Pope John Paul II in answer to a miraculous intercession. Pope Francis requested the intercession of these popes for the success of the synod on the family.READ MORE
When I was young, my grandfather was fond of me. Over time, I got to love him and craved being around him. All we did was talk frivolously and laugh. He would tell me baby stories to keep me happy. And before you ask about my grandmother, she was a bundle of joy as well. She died some years ago at 90. My grandfather has since died at the age of 100.
As our bonding period progressed, I used to ask why he was not as fast enough as I was. He would tell me it was due to his age. I would run away from him and expect him to catch me, but he could not. Later, on as I began to grow older, I started to seek my independence away from him. He would call me, but I would hide. He would send me to do something for him; I would promise to do it but I would not. He would run after me, yet I always ran faster than him and hid. One day, he told me, “When you grow older, you will understand how old people feel about their grandchildren not listening to them.” Now I understand.READ MORE
When you consider what teachers go through in class, you will appreciate them for who they are. They teach, listen, and they are patient. A few times in their teaching career, they feel like they are in the wrong profession when they meet annoying students and nasty behaviors. Some students can grasp a lesson quickly; others succeed by constant repetition. While some students merit the A grade not so with many unlucky ones.
Every teacher is key to a student’s learning. It is the responsibility of the student to develop learning techniques independently and assimilate those hard theories. It is the desire of every teacher to graduate high performing students and to be proud of them. So that is the reward for teaching but sadly, not every student gets to the top.READ MORE
Freewill is an important gift from God necessary for human existence. Imagine humans without the ability to choose or without the ability to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong: it will be prefab living. God graciously bestows the gift of choice on humans to enable them to make excellent decisions to live happily. If we make a poor choice, we own up to it and become responsible for our wrong choices.READ MORE
The year 2014 witnessed greater persecution against Christians around the world. It is not entirely new that Christians are persecuted for their faith but in the past few years, we have seen an upward surge unprecedented in recent history. In 2020, the level of persecution has reached a new high especially in Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. According to Open Doors, a US-based agency serving persecuted Christians worldwide, the persecution of Christians doubled in 2013. In its report, it says that Christianity as the largest faith in the world with 2.2 billion followers, which is about 32% of the world population, faces hostility in 111 countries. While there are persistent internal tensions with the second-largest religion, Islam, it fiercely faces restrictions in ultra-conservative countries, which do not favor another state religion. In all, Christians faced persecution that saw the birth of many martyrs simply for their faith as Christians in 2013. This situation prompted the Vatican representative to the United Nations, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, to voice out his concerns to the UN Human Rights Council. According to him, every year over 100,000 Christians is violently killed because of their faith. The rank of those persecuted cuts across all ranks of the Church hierarchy from missing bishops kidnapped nuns, abducted priests too numerous lay followers suffering martyrdom in the hands of their dangerous persecutors.READ MORE
After listening to different news media reports onthe endless skirmishes between Israel and thePalestinians in Gaza, I decided to find out formyself what history could offer me about thiscontroversial subject. I found a book of greatinterest, The Middle East by Bernard Lewis,a historian of great repute and versed on thesubject. From the first to the last page, I read indetail the rise and fall of different empires,sultanates or caliphates, or khanates in what wenow call the Middle East.READ MORE
In many novels, plays, and films there are storms. Characters look to grey skies and warn that a storm is coming. This is not just a weather forecast! In our own daily lives when we face difficult or painful situations we talk about ‘ weathering a storm&rsquo, or ‘ being all at sea.’ These recent months whether at a personal, local, national or global level, we have all weathered, battled, and hopefully survived the storm that was and still is the Coronavirus. It shook and rattled us and we all did our very best to hang on and survive. Hopefully these days now, that storm is easing for us.
In the gospel today, the disciples find themselves in a storm while at sea in a boat, but this is not the only storm they are facing. The gospel continues directly from last week’s when Jesus fed the crowd. After sending them away, Jesus again spends time alone where he can be silent, rest and pray. Even Jesus can’t be busy and active all the time. While the disciples are at sea the famous storm blows and bellows.READ MORE
Jesus multiplied two fish and five loaves for amultitude of people. He knew that the peopledepended on him while he taught them by thehillside. When it was time to depart and go backto their homes, he did not allow them to emptyhanded. He instructed the apostles to give themsomething to eat. They could only find two fishand five loaves. Jesus multiplied them and gavethem out for the people to eat.
Anytime we read this section in the Bible, we arealways moved with surprise that Jesus couldmultiply few loves of bread and fish for a largegathering. However, we should not be surprisedcompletely and lose the point. Jesus is the sonof God. He came from the Father to show ushow much he loves us. He used many difficultand impossible situations to reveal, to us pieceby piece how much he cares about us. Insteadof believing in God’s ultimate power, wequestion everything about him.
Consider this fact. Five thousand men excludingwomen and children ate from the two fish andfive loaves. Do you know how much food fivethousand men could eat? What about thewomen and their children? Combining the foodthat came from the fish and bread gives us thecourage to term this a miracle. Our faith teachesus that Jesus did many other miracles tosubstantiate his position as God’s Only begottenson.READ MORE