Homily for 3rd Sunday of Lent (Liturgical Year C)

A Call To Repentance – One More Chance!

This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East. He is currently the parochial vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details contact him on:canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com or +23408063767512

Biodun was a young lad sent to a very good and expensive school to study, but due to youthful exuberance, he neglected his studies for other trivial things on campus. Unfortunately, when his mates were being promoted he was asked to repeat due to his poor academic performance. When the news got to his father he threatened to withdraw Biodun from school for squandering his money. However, Biodun knowing that his father was a man of his words repented of his bad behavior, asked the father for forgiveness and promised to do better in the subsequent academic sessions. Although his father was a die-hard man, he mellowed down and gave him yet another chance to prove himself. Of course, he did prove himself by coming back home with better results. This third Sunday of Lent, the church provides us yet another moment of grace or ample opportunity to help us straighten our already soiled path along the journey of life, faith and salvation. The central theme of this Sunday therefore is REPENTANCE.  Most times, whenever this theme is featured either in the scriptures or elsewhere, most people usually associate it with something negative. On the contrary, it is not, because it is actually the stepping stone to a better life or salvation. In this case, it is one way through which as Sacrament in General, the grace of God is mediated.

In the gospel reading of today (Luke 13, 1-9), Jesus did not mince words in telling us that: “unless you repent you will perish”. I suppose you are already saying in your mind, this is too harsh to come from someone who claims to be compassionate and love. However, the question is, is there a better way of saying it? Paul writes in Rom 6, 23 that: “…but the wages of sin is death…” death not only of our physical body but also of our soul. So, when Jesus sounds like this, he does so because he actually cares for us. Not only does he warn us of the negative consequences of living a sinful life but, he wishes that we repent and begin to do better. So today, he calls us to reflect upon our lives as Biodun did, and to take a bold and positive step towards amending our way of life. This is in simple terms, a call to repentance for the many times we have failed not only God, but our fellow human beings; for the times we chose evil in place of good; for those moments we neglected the Jesus present in our neighbours by treating them with scorn. It is a call for repentance for those moments we have despaired and displayed remarkable lose or lack of faith in God.

This Sunday the good news is that we are yet given another moment of grace or opportunity by God through Christ to re-examine our ways, another opportunity to learn our lessons from the deeds of our predecessors and the consequences their actions brought upon them as Paul kindly reminds us in (1Cor 10, 1ff), and of course, another opportunity to call upon the Lord who is compassion and love (Ps. 102, 8). In other words, he is a patient God and ever ready to have us come back to him if only we can realize that we are at a cross road and turn around. All He requires from us therefore, is a commitment by calling on that name that he delights so much in, “I AM” or “ABBA” save me least I perish! If we call upon this compassionate and loving God, he will not only forgive us, but help us live a better life.

Compassion means to suffer with and also to love with (cum passio). Therefore, God’s compassion for us is always associated with his love for us. He knows how miserable our state is under the influence of sin which places us under a heavy burden of slavery as was the case with the Israelites in the first reading of today (Ex. 3, 1ff). So this Lent, as ever before, he extends his gesture and hand of love to us. He is aware of our deplorable state occasioned by different categories of sins and aware of our enslavement by habitual sins, even the sins of omission or commission. Jesus knows that repentance requires lots of courage and humility to embark upon. This is the reason he is ready to give us yet another opportunity to repent and, earnestly waits for us to cry out: “I AM” or “ABBA” save me least I perish!

Peace be with you!               

Maranatha!!

Feast of the Week: The Chair of St. Peter

 Whose Turn is it to Sit on this Chair?

This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr.
Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the
Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East.
He is currently the parochial vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church
Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details contact him
on:canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com
or +23408063767512

Although the instruction given by the 2013 Liturgical Calendar for the celebration of Mass of the hours according to the General Roman Calendar – for Nigeria, states that: “The feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the Apostles, is not celebrated this year” (p. 32), we consider it necessary to write few words on the significance of this feast. This is especially, considering the recent misunderstanding of the news of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.

From the earliest times the Church at Rome celebrated on 18 January the memory of the day when the Apostle held his first service with the faithful of the Eternal City. This feast of the Chair of St. Peter is generally attributed to a long absence of the Apostle from Rome. Since then, February 22 in the calendar of the Catholic Church represents the day of the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. This is the anniversary of its entry into a particular memory at the center of the particular mission entrusted by Jesus to Peter. The Roman Missal explains: “the symbol of the chair will emphasize the mission of teacher and pastor of Christ conferred upon Peter, which he formed in his person and in the successors, visible principle and foundation of unity of the Church”. The chair, literally, is the fixed seat of the supreme pontiff and the bishops, permanently placed in the mother church of the diocese (hence its name of “cathedral” after “cathedra” the chair) and is the symbol of the bishop and his ordinary Magisterium in the local church. The chair of St. Peter indicates his position in the apostolic college, established by the express will of Jesus, who assigned the task of “feeding” the flock, that is to lead the new People of God, the Church. The chair therefore is an office which has been occupied by several Popes, the latest being Pope Benedict XVI. He is the 264th successor of Peter, and the 265th pope of the Catholic Church.

The world woke up on Monday, 11 February, 2013 to embrace the shock, surprise and disappointment orchestrated by the news of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. This news of the Pope’s resignation has since been the talk of the town as a result of what many considered the “breaking of an age long tradition of the Roman Catholic Church.” History has it that some seven hundred and nineteen years ago a Pope resigned. The Pope in question is Pope Celestine V who resigned in 1294. Today, it has gone down in the annals of history that he is the 2nd pope to resign for a very good reason (Cf. Can 187). The reason this historic action looks and sounds bizarre to us is that we have not experienced it before. Rather than feeling disappointed concerning Benedict XVI’s resignation, we should hail him for teaching us that physically we will all go down someday; that we are different functionally and essentially; that the Church is the Church of Jesus Christ who instituted and sustains her; that without Benedict XVI, Christ will continue to take care of his Church. As shocking and as “unprecedented” as the news might seem to most of us, I think we really need to see the positive lessons his action teaches us in our modern world, especially, in African where leaders prefer to remain in power or on the throne until they rot away.

One very important truth that must not elude us all in this is the fact that Benedict XVI is going to resign from the office as the Pope on 28th February, 2013 but not from his Eternal Priesthood or even from the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Our Church is a Church in the modern world where there are endless possibilities and Pope Benedict’s resignation is only but one of such possibilities. It is a reality we must come to terms with if we must move forward as a Church. A very pertinent question that must be asked now is: Who is the next person to sit on this Chair?. This answer lies in the domain of the Holy Spirit and depends strongly on the prayers of the faithful. Let us pray: Oh Lord, here is your Church, watch over her whether we are asleep or are awake. Amen!

Lenten Reflection

A different Approach to Fasting this Lent

Beloved, fasts have a tendency to be oriented towards things like giving up food or television. But there are many other creative ways we can welcome Jesus’ healing touch this Lent. Here are suggestions you may want to consider

1.     Fast from Anger

Give your Family, friends and even your enemies an extra dose of love this season.

 2.  Fast From Judging Others

Before making judgments, recall how Jesus over looks our faults.

3.     Fast from Discouragements

Hold on to Jesus’ promise that He has a perfect plan for your life.

4.     Fast from Complaining

When you find you are about to complain, close your eyes and recall some of the little moments of joy Jesus has given you.

5.     Fast from Resentment or Bitterness

Work on forgiving those who may have hurt you.

6.     Fast from Spending Too Much Money

Try to reduce your spending by ten percent (10%), and give those savings to the poor and the needy.

7.     Spend Extra time for Personal Prayers

In place of excessive talking dedicate more time to mental and contemplative prayers.

Wishing you all Peace, Love and Happiness during this Lent

Smile Jesus Loves You!

 

Homily for 2nd Sunday of Lent (Liturgical Year C)

Living in the Glory and Splendor of Jesus Christ

This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku
Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the
Congregation Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers, Province of Nigeria South East.
He is currently the parochial vicar of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church
Woliwo Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. For more details contact him
on:canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com
or +23408063767512

Readings:

1st :Gen 15,5-12. 17-18; 2nd: Phil 3,17-4,1;  Gosp: Luke 9,28-36

A woman one day suddenly went into a coma that lasted several hours. Her children made every effort they could to revive her. When she woke up, she was very sad, angry and lamented: “You should not have bothered yourselves bringing me back here because, what I saw and where I was during those hours is better than where you people have brought me back to now?” Her children explained that they did not want her to die yet because they still needed her. She then went ahead to explain to her children the glory, beauty and splendor of her new environment during her coma. She had barely finished when her little daughter screamed “Mummy, Mummy, you were already in heaven, let me get my cloths so that we can go back there right now!” Occasionally, we hear people narrating such stories of having a glimpse of the glory of God and heaven, but hardly do we believe them. Yet, as Christians we believe that heaven is real. The first reading from Gen 15, 5-12ff and the gospel reading (Luke 9, 28-36) of today have a lot in common because, both of them involved the revelation of the glory and splendor of God. First as a result of his faith, God revealed to Abraham the glory and greatness that was to be his in the near future. Not only did he reveal this to him, He sealed it with a covenant as an assurance that what he promised he will do, he will surely do. In the gospel, Jesus decided to reveal his glory to some of his disciples or “the members of the inner circle.” They saw the glory and splendor of God revealed in Jesus the epitome of the new era, in Moses the law giver and, in Elijah the prophet, thus uniting the former and latter glory.

The transfiguration of Jesus before these disciples is of great significance, and has lots of lessons for us. Christ could have gone alone, but he decided to take them with him to the mountain. He did this in order to assure them and all of us his followers, that we are not wasting our time following him; in order to increase and strengthen our faith in Him who is the son of God; in order to substantiate the fact that he is who he really claimed he is; and in order to resolve the argument over whether he was Elijah, Moses or John the Baptist. Furthermore, he did this to assure us that a reward of living in the glory and splendor of God awaits all of us if we faithfully run the race and advance the kingdom of God as our fathers in faith did. Yet, another important lesson we must learn from today’s gospel, revolves round the verse which says: “…Peter and his companions were heavy with sleep but they remained awake and saw his glory” (Luke 9, 32). Of course, these men having climbed all day long came to the top of the mountain fagged out, but because they felt the seriousness of the business that brought them there, they struggled to keep awake by all means. Physically, they were asleep, but spiritually, they were awake until they have accomplished the task that brought them there. We also need to keep awake. We must be ready to make enough sacrifices, if we are to behold and live in the glory of God revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Lenten period therefore affords us the opportunity to do this, because, it prepares us through prayers, good deeds, reflections, self denials, etcetera, for seeing and living in the glory and splendor of God. It is a period when we advance gradually, faithfully and hopefully to the mountain where we are to see and live in this glory. It is also a season when God beckons on us to listen attentively through the scriptures to what Jesus wishes to communicate to us through his Paschal Mystery. Hence, we are to widen the horizon of our intellects in order to fully grasp the mystery of the cross this wonderful season, so that we can equally partake in the glory of the resurrection. To achieve this, Paul tells us today that we must “remain faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 4, 1), who is “our light and our help” (Ps 26, 1).

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!