Homily For Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ-Corpus Christi (Year C), 2nd June, 2013

Do This In Memory Of Me!

     Readings: (1st: Gen 14, 18-20; Ps: 109, 1-4; 2nd: I Cor 11, 23-26 Gos: Lk 9, 11-17)          

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

The solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi), which the Universal Church celebrates today reminds us all of the wonderful gift of God to us through the person of Jesus Christ who is sacramentally present in the form of bread and wine. This feast originated in France in the mid 13th century and was extended to the whole Church by Pope Urban IV in 1264. It is celebrated on the Thursday following the Trinity Sunday or on the Sunday following that feast. While the primary focus of this solemnity is on the spiritual nourishment that Christ gives us, its secondary focus is on the Body of Christ as it is present in the Church. The Church is called the Body of Christ because of the intimate communion Jesus shares with his Church. In order to help keep in focus both the unity and diversity of the Church, Jesus employed the metaphor of a body in which He is the head and the Church the body to express this (Col 1, 18).

The Body and Blood of Christ (Eucharist), is the most excellent of gifts ever given by anyone on earth. It also shows how much God loves and cares for both our temporal and spiritual welfare. Therefore, we celebrate today the sacramental presence of Christ in his Church. Lucky Dube of the blessed memory in one of his songs “blessed both the hand that gives and the one that receives.” However, he did not tell us whose blessing is greater, but there is a saying that “there is more joy in giving than in receiving”. Today, virtually all the readings touched one issue – giving or offering of something. The first reading succinctly tells us that: “Abram gave him (Melchizedek) a tithe of everything”. He did not give it with the sole intention of getting something in return. Of course, Melchizedek did bless him, and offer thanks to God on his behalf with bread and wine. These were offerings of one’s self in the form of material items. In fact, Abram is a specialist in self donation as we see also in Gen 22, 1-18.

Today as ever before, God offers Himself wholly and cheerfully to us to eat and drink as a way of expressing his unconditional love for us. He sees our physical weakness orchestrated by spiritual hunger and thirst. He also sees the weakness of our power of reminiscence and so, offers himself sacramentally to us in the form of bread and wine: “Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you are proclaiming the Lord’s death.” As humans, we are quick to forget and so need to be helped to remember. Hence, the Lord commands us: “Do this in memory of me!” Obeying this command goes beyond mere remembering. “The command of Jesus to repeat his actions and words until he comes does not only ask us to remember Jesus and what he did. It is directed at the liturgical celebration, by the apostles and their successors, of the memorial of Christ, of his life…(CCC 1341). This is why we employ the word “re-enacting” because, when one merely remembers, it could come as a flash and off it goes. But when we re-enact, we re-live the experience and we eat truly his Body and drink truly his Blood. At another level also, “do this in memory of me,” positions us well in order to be ready to offer ourselves completely to, and for the emancipation of others. When we re-live this experience, we are totally drawn into it, and the result is that we are nourished spiritually and physically for the purpose of offering ourselves too to others as Christ did. “Do this in memory of me,” sustains our hope for the Parousia; it prepares and equips us for the great call and reunion not only with Christ but also, with all the Faithful (in the Communion of Saints).

In the gospel, Jesus says to us as he says to Andrew and his colleagues: “Give them something to eat!” At the time he said this to Andrew it could be taken for granted that that he (Andrew), was handicapped because Jesus was yet to offer himself for the first time in the form of bread and wine, and so had not issued the command: “Do this in memory of me!” The disciple’s eyes were not yet opened to the mysteries of Christ’s Body and Blood. For us who have been fed and who continue to feed on the Body and Blood of Christ what Christ expects of us is simply to: “give them something to eat”. What are we to feed them with? We are not being asked to give what we do not have. Although our world is highly religious, yet there are many yet to be nourished by the good news. When they are converted, then we would have succeeded in bringing them to the banquet of the Body and Blood of Christ where Jesus Christ our Lord and Master himself is the “Chief Chef.” Therefore, we must be hospitable enough to get the weak seated comfortably in order to participate in the great feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. We must make those who are hungry and thirsty for both physical and spiritual food our guests, and begin to feed them with what the Lord offers us.

Finally, today the solemnity of Corpus Christi, what Christ offers us is his real Body and Blood, real food and real drink which is the “locus of our faith”. With it, Christ draws us closer to himself. Christ is present with us in the Holy Eucharist as the head of the Church. So, today’s celebration is therefore an opportunity to thank God for the gift of himself to us through Jesus Christ who sacramentally is present with us.

Peace be with you all!

Maranatha!!

Homily Holy Trinity Sunday,Year C

 One Church, One Faith and One Spirit: Make us Truly One, O Lord!

Readings: (1st: Prov 8, 22-33; Ps: 8, 4-9; 2nd: Rom 5, 1-5 Gos: Jn 16, 12-15)

                   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

As we return to the Ordinary Time in the Church’s liturgical calendar, today the Universal Church celebrates the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. Once, a very curious young girl rushed to her father – a professor of Mathematics, and asked him: “Daddy, daddy, I have always heard Priests say during weddings that the Mathematics of marriage is 1+1=1. Is it true, and are they right?” The man not knowing what to answer immediately paused for a while. Then he broke the silence and asked his daughter: “Have you ever heard me say that before?” The girl responded: “No daddy”! The man continued: “Fr. Thomas is your friend right?” The girl agreed: “Yes daddy”! He finally said to her: “The next time you see him, ask him to solve this mathematic for you because, he is an expert in the Mathematics of marriage okay?” And the girl responded: “Okay daddy”. The man applied Wisdom in order to avoid solving and failing this simple linear equation (1+1=1), the answer of which is absolutely wrong going by the rule of Mathematics, and human reasoning.

In today’s first reading, Wisdom is personified. He is both God the Creator, and at the same time, the witness to creation. In order words, as we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity today, we are reminded that it is only the Trinitarian God that can comprehend and explain Himself in His fullness. As humans, the wisdom we possess is only but a spark of the Wisdom which is God Himself: “The wisdom of man is foolishness before God” (I Cor 3, 19). Hence, ours is limited while God’s is absolute, all encompassing, deeper and wider than the whole of creation. This means that it is only the Creator that can comprehend the creature not the other way round. So, in as much as the mystery we celebrate today is real, it can only be fully comprehended by the three divine persons themselves. Therefore, we must be humble, to admit only of the things that it pleases God to reveal to us. Poking into the deep and depth of the Trinitarian unity makes us vulnerable to crashing out.

In the second reading, Paul tells us that: “The LOVE of GOD is poured into our hearts by the HOLY SPIRIT.” From this, one can gain some insight into what this union is like. The LOVE of GOD is JESUS CHRIST who like the HOLY SPIRIT cannot be separated from God. Each of them do their work and yet they remain one and undivided. The gospel reading further buttress’s this bond of unity that exists between the three divine persons. Each and every one of them bears witness to the word and truth that others profess. Each affirms and confirms the work of others. None of them confuses or contradicts the other. They work at the same time, place and on the same project. They are not separated by time, or season, and so operate in the same era. Just as their mission and work is not divided, their glory is also not divided because, they are ONE.

The doctrine and theology of Trinity is one that has raised lots of debates and controversies in the history of the church. For some, it could best be termed “confused,” because they found it absolutely incomprehensible. How can there be three individual persons in one God? They angrily question. Yet for others because it is incomprehensible, it has been tagged a Mystery. This terrain is therefore not to be walked by those who walk by sight or as Paul puts it: “it cannot be unraveled by human wisdom or philosophy. It defiles all forms of mathematical and logical calculations. Unfortunately, some who have attempted to unravel this mystery with mundane wisdom have been caught by the dangerous trap set by heresy. Although the name Trinity is no where mentioned in the scriptures, but we know that Jesus commands us to: “Baptize them in the name of the father the son and the Holy Spirit” (Mt 28, 19; Acts 2, 38). The Tradition and Magisterium of the Church teach that: “The divine persons are relative to one another… Because it does not divide the divine unity, the real distinction of the persons from one another resides solely in the relationships which relate them to one another…. because of that unity the Father is wholly in the Son and wholly in the Holy Spirit…” (CCC255). In light of this, Trinity is a doctrine that holds that there are three distinct persons united in one divine nature. This means that there are “three persons in one God”.

As we celebrate the solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity today, we must pause to reflect on what it means to us a people and Church. We must learn from them that we must remain united in faith. This of course means, respecting one another. Here, the principle of complementarity and collaborative ministry must not be over looked. However, this unity must not rob us of the uniqueness of our being and individuality. The saying that: “in the church, there is unity but no uniformity” comes to mind. This is true, and expresses itself in the different modes and shades of spirituality which exists in the Church. In spite of these, all of us are still united in the pursuit of God’s kingdom. Thomas Aquinas says that: “The ultimate goal of spirituality is the glorification of God, while its proximate goal is the sanctification of man” (Summa Theologiae, Taurini: Marietti, 1948), I-II, g. 112, a. 4.). Yes, as one united but not uniformed people, we must work earnestly towards this goal. Furthermore, just as each of the three persons is unique, also each one of us is created unique. Just as they are not selfish but work with one purpose, we must not be selfish or work for our personal gratification. Just as no one  member of the divine persons lords it over the other, we must in this church of ours eschew the wicked spirit of segregation, “cliquism”, hatred, unforgiveness, “god-fatherism”, ill-fated manipulations, oppression, suppression and the unjust treatment of any member of this One, Holy, Apostolic and Trinitarian Church.

How we can live together in this one big family – the Universal Church, without bursting the ego of the other, without destructive tendencies and frictions, without robbing others of their unique identity? We must learn that all the conflicts, rough and cutting ages we go through are ways through which our union is strengthened. History has proved this to be right. However, it is important to note that if we must remain united, we cannot resolve our conflicts by banding words, gossiping, spreading falsehood, rumour mongering, fermenting and propagating propagandas, flexing of “ecclesiastical muscles”, ungodly lobbying, pulling ugly strings, obdurately refusing to shift our position on issues or by carrying sledge hammers, weapons of mass destruction, daggers, and all sort of man-made weapons. Hence, Paul reminds us that: “…For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal …” (2 Cor 10, 4). We must also be ready to come to terms with reality, and be ready, irrespective of what it will cause us to preserve the unity of our Church. If really we must live together as the divine persons of the Trinity do, we must love and respect the other, and humble ourselves as Jesus Christ did (Phil 2, 6-1). It is only when we live together as the three divine persons do, that: “The greatness of the name of the Lord will be made known through all the earth” (Ps. 8, 2).

Peace be with you all!          

Maranatha!!

 

Homily For Pentecost Sunday (Year C), 2013

Rejoice Beloved! For The Spirit Of The Lord is Upon You!!

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Readings: (1st: Acts 2, 1-11; Ps: 103, 1. 24-34; 2nd: Rom 8, 8-17 Gos: Jn 14, 15-16.23-26)

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

Today is Pentecost Sunday, the great day of a fulfilled promise. For some days now as in our first reading of today (Acts2, 1-11), the faithful have been physically and spiritually gathered together in the “upper room” in a Novena imploring God to send down the Holy Spirit upon the Church. The significance of this day in the life and history of the Church of Christ cannot be over flogged. This is because there is near to absolute agreement among most scholars that this is the actual birthday of the Church. Today the Spirit of God has blown where it wills and is now with us. So every true and faithful believer has been re-energized, repositioned and refilled for the journey of faith and eternity. Jesus has fulfilled his promise to all those who in faith and hope waited for this day to come. If we are really living in faith, we will feel God’s mighty power – the Holy Spirit is at work in us now! However, the problem is not God fulfilling his promise of sending the Holy Spirit, but, what do we do with this wonderful gift of God?

A man was convicted and jailed for many years for a heinous crime. A few years later he was granted pardon. When the jailers got to his cell, opened its iron bar, and asked him to come out, the man refused and said to them: you are asking me to come out but the bar is still locked. They assured him that the bar was open, then the man walked to the bar and turned back in to his cell and said them: I cannot find any open doors here why are you people deceiving and playing games with me? It is a pity that this man did not know what to do with the gift of freedom! Today, we are filled afresh to over flowing with the Holy Spirit because Jesus has kept his promise.  He neither deceives nor plays games with us. What he has done to and for us is real! So we must march out in splendor in order to bear fruits. Therefore, we must dispose of our former selves (Eph 4, 22) and allow the Holy Spirit to work and walk with us.

In the second reading (Rom 8, 8-17), Paul reminds us of the fact that by virtue of our “Pentecostal experience” today, an indelible mark has been placed upon us, that we have been specially configured by the Holy Spirit for spiritual life further away from the mundane. This means that it is the Holy Spirit that gives life. Hence, Paul writes: “…and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he will give life to your own mortal bodies through his spirit living in you.” Therefore, through today’s infilling we are truly and fully earmarked as God’s children. Though adopted, yet, we are fully heirs to God’s throne and heritage. This is why we can confidently today call God, “Abba, Father.” Today we see the gospel reading of the 5th Sunday of Easter (Year C), being repeated. This is a way of laying emphasis on the principal roles of the Holy Spirit we have received today. These include mainly: advocacy, teaching, and reminding us of the things we ought to know. However, for this to be possible, we must be ready to cooperate with him. He can only advocate for us if we are truthful by telling him all our problems and of course allowing him to take the lead in our case. He can only teach us if we pay heed to him, and he can only remind us of the things we ought to know if we are humble enough to say: Holy Spirit of the living God help me or I perish. All these are possible only with our cooperation, because, the Holy Spirit does not coerce any one.

What then will the Holy Spirit that we have received today help us accomplish? First, the Spirit we have received today is not the spirit of fear and timidity. Instead, it is the Spirit that empowers us and makes us strong / bold Christians and children of God (CCC 1302). What this means is that we must no longer remain lily-livered Christians, but Christians who are bold enough to call God Abba Father, and who will witness to him. That is the purpose of this out pouring. It is not for our keeps or for us alone. It is given to so that we like the apostles, would be able to empower others by the help of the same spirit. Second, he will help us bear good fruits (Gal 5, 22). The Holy Spirit will lead us into the kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy. He will lead us away from all that is “base and grass” and bring us to the fullness of life. However, it is important to note that as a person, the Holy Spirit can be offended. This is why we are warned: “…and do not grieve the Holy Spirit, God’s mark of ownership in you” (Eph 4, 30). Although God does not relent in his faithfulness, yet we must be mindful of the fact that grieving the Holy Spirit or being an obstacle to his work is a grave sin because: “Any sin against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but any sin against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven” (Mt 12, 32).

So, as we rejoice at this wonderful gesture that God extended to us today, let us equally ask him for the grace to be docile to the Spirit we have received, and that by our actions we might not grieve Him. On this joyful day, may I wish all the members of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans) and the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement all over the world a happy feast day! May the Holy Spirit lead you to the ends of the earth.

Peace be with you all!          

Maranatha!!

Homily for Feast of St Mathias, 14th May

What type of Gift and Fruit Am I to God and the Church? 

Readings: (1st: Acts 1, 15-17. 20-26; Ps: 113, 1-8; 2nd: Rom 8, 8-1 Gos: Jn 15, 9-17) 

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

 

“Someone who has been with us during the whole time that Lord Jesus was traveling around with us…and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection”

Matthias means gift of God. He is a gift of God to the Apostles and to the entire Church of Jesus Christ because he was elected by the power of the Holy Spirit who is the giver of gifts. He is the gift of God because he was a generous offer and an instrument for bearing witness to the risen Christ. Matthias and Barsabbas were proposed to replace Judas, but Matthias was elected. According to an ancient tradition handed down by Clement of Alexandria and confirmed by Eusebius and St. Jerome, Matthias was one of the seventy-two disciples of Jesus. Clement of Alexandria further writes that “Matthias was remarkable for inculcating the necessity of mortifying the flesh with its irregular passions and desires”. According to the Greeks, he suffered martyrdom in Colchis, now called Ethiopia. Matthias was not chosen out of prejudice, favoritism, nepotism, tribalism or unprecedented sentiments, but out of good will.

A great lesson that lies herein for us today include the fact that there are conditions or qualities that must qualify us to become disciples, leaders, managers or messengers of Jesus Christ and the Church. Hence we must ask ourselves, these pertinent questions: That position I am struggling for, do I have the qualities required for it, or do I want it for prestige sake? When I elect people in my school, community, state, and country for important positions or awards, what criteria do I use? Do I see those authentically chosen as a gift from God for the salvation of humanity? The second lesson is that, not only should I spend many years as a Seminarian, Priest, Reverend Sister/Brother, a member of CYO, CWO or CMO, etc., I am also expected to bear authentic witness to the risen Christ in any of these capacities. If we do this as Matthias did, then, we can be sure that we are bearing quality fruits that will endure.

The gospel therefore reminds us succinctly that it is God himself who has chosen us as he chose Matthias for a special task, and as a special gift to the people of God. It therefore means that we are not to embark on the task any how it pleases us. Rather, according to the stipulations, demands and dictates of the one who chose us. Matthias was chosen to replace the renegade Judas and he did well by bearing good fruits that has endured till this day.  Jesus stressed it thus: “You did not choose me; I chose you and commissioned you to go out to bear fruits that will last”. Also Brother Paul in Ephesians 1, 4 reminds us all that: “God chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and without sin in his presence”. This is the purpose for which God has chosen us and what he expects us to do. He expects us to bear witness to his holiness and to be holy ourselves as Mathias who we celebrate today was. The ball now lies in our court and we are to ask ourselves, what kind of gift and fruit am I?

As I was reflecting over today’s Gospel reading, two sets of fruit trees in my former school environment came rushing into my mind. I have carefully observed their activities, and the patronage they receive from us during my years in the school. The first is the Citrus tree just behind the school chapel. Every year it bears fruits which end up not being consumed by any body. These fruits eventually dry up on the tree and finally fall off at the end of the year. This is because the fruits are not sweet or palatable to the taste buds. The second is a set and specie of mango trees beside the school football pitch which produces big and “enticing” fruits. Unfortunately, before these fruits get ripe they become heavily infested with worms. Indeed these trees bear fruits but their fruits were not good enough for our patronage. They are therefore bad fruits. These are not the kind of fruits the Lord wants from us; he wants fruits that will stand the test of time. What type of fruits am I bearing? Are they sour, bitter, warm-infested or good fruits that testify to the goodness and holiness of God?  To achieve this result effectively, Brother Paul appeals to us: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice (gift), holy and acceptable to God …. So that you may discern what the will of God is – what is good, acceptable and perfect (Rom 12, 1). If we do this and bear good fruits like Matthias – the gift of God, whose feast we celebrate today, the Lord and master of the vineyard promises us that: God the father will give you any thing you ask in my name.

Brothers and Sister, let us pray today that God who chose us as he did Matthias, may help us to offer ourselves wholly in order to bear good fruits, fruits that will serve as durable gifts to both God and the Church till the end of time, so that his blessings may be ours.  

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!

Homily For 7th Sunday of Easter: World Communications Day, 12th May, 2013

   The Holy Spirit The Greatest Communicator Of All Times

 

Readings: (1st: Acts 7, 55-60; Ps: 96, 1-2. 6-. 9; 2nd: Rev 22, 12-14. 16-17; Gos: Jn 17, 20-26)

 

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

 

Today, the 7th Sunday in the season of Easter, the Universal Church celebrates the World Communications Day. In today’s first reading we are told that Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit and saw the son of man standing at God’s right hand. This testimony of Stephen in the power of the Holy Spirit is a way God confirms our witness and at the same time communicates to the world things that ordinarily we would not have known anything about. The second reading tells us that John heard a voice speaking to him: “Very soon I shall be with you again,” and latter on the Spirit and the Bride says: “let everyone that listens answer, come!” In order words it is the Holy Spirit that invites us and also aids our communication.

In his letter to the Ephesians (1, 17-23), Paul prays asking God to send us: “… a Spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed, to bring you the full knowledge of him”. This is ad rem to what the Church celebrates today – World Communications Day. “During a time in which technology has emerged as part of the fabric of connectivity of human experiences, such as relationships and knowledge, we need to ask: can it help men and women meet Christ in faith? (Pccs.world-communications-day, 2013). I say yes, but only if the Holy Spirit is in control. This is because the Holy Spirit is the greatest communicator of all times, the one who gives the knowledge, wisdom and understanding necessary for any type of communication, and the one who directs all communications. In fact, he is the “Minister of Communication in the Government” of the Most Holy Trinity. That is why Jesus says: “He will teach you all things…”  Jesus also knew that without the Holy Spirit his disciples cannot communicate the good news effectively. Hence, before his Ascension, he advised them to: “…stay in the city then, until you are clothed with the power from on high” (Luke 24, 46-53).

We must therefore pay attention to what Jesus tells us in today’s gospel. In it Christ prays for the unity of his flock: “Father, that they may be one!” This is the basis of Christian Ecumenism in our world today. It can however succeed only when we learn to communicate well, when we live out what Christ taught us and when we witness to Christ effectively. Good communication fosters unity, peace and progress. We are very much aware of the story of the tower of Babel (Gen 11, 9) and the confusion that prevented the builders from accomplishing their great task. This confusion of tongues came simply as a result of the fact that they could no longer communicate properly with one another because God disrupted their language.

Jesus communicated the Father well and that is why he is confident to say: “I have made known your name to them and I will continue to make it known to them”. Yes he will continue to do so through the help of the Holy Spirit in whose care he commends us. We are equally called to join in making the Father and Christ known through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that softens hardened hearts, opens deaf ears and greases tight lips in order to loosen them for effective communication and reception of the good news. This is why Paul prays: “May he enlighten the eyes of your mind…” As Christians what roles do we play in making sure that we communicate right morals, excellent spirituality, culture of peace, and other good Christian values? If we communicate positively the world becomes a wonderful place, but if on the contrary we issue wrong signals, our world will be doomed. So as we celebrate the World Communications Day today, we must ask God to help us and through the power of the Holy Spirit teach us the right things and ways to witness to him.

 

Peace be with you!

 

Maranatha!!

 

Homily For The Solemnity of Ascension Of The Lord: Thursday, May 9, 2013

Hurray! Our Lord Goes Up With Trumpet Blast!!

Readings: (1st: Acts 1, 1-11; Ps: 46, 2-3. 6-7, 8-9; 2nd: Eph 1, 17-23; Gos: Lk 24, 46-53)

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

Today the 9th of May the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Ascension. The Solemnity of Ascension is one which commemorates the taking up of Christ into Heaven as indicated in today’s first reading from Acts 1, 1-11. It is a holy day of obligation, and is usually celebrated on Thursdays as it is popularly believed to have taken place on a Thursday. However, in some parts of the world this solemnity is celebrated on Sundays in order to help many faithful working in non – (Catholic/Christian) organizations fully observe it.

The Ascension is an important solemnity attesting to, and celebrating the reality of the God made man – Jesus’ returning to the Father. Hence the Psalmist invites “all people to clap their hands and cry out with joy” because Our Lord “goes up with shouts of joy and with trumpet blast”. Together with Christ’s resurrection, it is also a clear manifestation of Jesus’ Messiah-ship. It is a solemnity that lifts up and sustains the hope of Christians that one day we shall be where Christ is. It is the final battle blow of Jesus Christ against the devil.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in teaching about this solemnity highlights the following three important theological points: Christ’s Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, (cf. Acts 1:11);…Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him forever. Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit (665-667). Ascension therefore, marks the beginning of the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to send us the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. So, The Solemnity of Ascension sets us on a fast track to receive the Holy Spirit because, Jesus himself tells us: “If I do not go away the Counselor will not come to you (Jn 16, 7).

In the second reading, Paul prays asking God to send us: “… a Spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed to bring you the full knowledge of him”. This is because the Holy Spirit is the one who gives the knowledge, wisdom and understanding necessary for us to carry on after Jesus must have returned to the Father, and the one who directs all our missionary endeavours. That is why Jesus says: “He will teach you all things…”

In today’s gospel Jesus before his Ascension, advised us to: “…stay in the city then, until you are clothed with the power from on high”.  This power from on high we must patiently and humbly seek if we must make any positive impact upon this world of ours. We must therefore pay attention to what Jesus tells us in today’s gospel. As an experienced commander He knows the terrain we are about to lunch into very well, and what it takes to be successful there. He knows how delicate and fragile the hearts of men and women of our age are. He knows that only the Holy Spirit can convince them. So as we celebrate the Solemnity of Ascension today, let us pray for the grace to patiently wait for the fulfilment of Jesus’ promise to us on Pentecost day.

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!

Homily For Solemnity Of The Lord’s Ascension (7th Week of Easter). May 12, 2013: World Communications Day

 The Holy Spirit The Greatest Communicator Of All Times

 Readings: (1st: Acts 1, 1-11; Ps: 46, 2-3. 6-7, 8-9; 2nd: Eph 1, 17-23; Gos: Lk 24, 46-53)

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

Today the 7th Sunday in the season of Easter, the Church in Nigeria celebrates the solemnity of Ascension. Also, the Universal Church celebrates the World Communications Day. The solemnity of Ascension is one which commemorates the taking up of Christ into Heaven as indicated in today’s first reading from Acts 1, 1-11. It is a holy day of obligation and this could be the reason the Church in Nigeria and perhaps elsewhere in the world decided to celebrate it this Sunday in order to help her many faithful working in non – (Catholic/Christian) organizations fully observe it.

The Ascension is an important solemnity attesting to, and celebrating the reality of the God made man – Jesus’ returning to the Father. Together with Christ’s resurrection, it is also a clear manifestation of Jesus’ Messiah-ship. It is a solemnity that lifts up and sustains the hope of Christians that one day we shall be where Christ is. It is the final battle blow of Jesus Christ against the devil. The Catechism of the Catholic Church in teaching about this solemnity highlights the following three important theological points: Christ’s Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, (cf. Acts 1:11);…Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of his Body, may live in the hope of one day being with him forever. Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit (665-667). Ascension therefore, marks the beginning of the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to send us the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. So it sets us on a fast track to receive the Holy Spirit because Jesus himself tells us: “If I do not go away the Counselor will not come to you (Jn 16, 7).

In the second reading, Paul prays asking God to send us: “… a Spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed to bring you the full knowledge of him”. This is ad rem to what the Church celebrates today – World Communications Day. Here is a very important question and concern raised by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (2013): “During a time in which technology has emerged as part of the fabric of connectivity of human experiences, such as relationships and knowledge, we need to ask: Can it help men and women meet Christ in faith? It is not enough to find an adequate language, but rather, it is necessary to learn how to present the Gospel…” I say yes, but only if the Holy Spirit is in control. This is because the Holy Spirit is the greatest communicator of all times, the one who gives the knowledge, wisdom and understanding necessary for any type of communication, and the one who directs all communications. In fact, he is the “Minister of Communication in the Government” of the Most Holy Trinity. That is why Jesus says: “He will teach you all things…”

In today’s gospel, Jesus also knew very well that without the Holy Spirit the disciples cannot communicate the good news or witness effectively to him. Hence, before his Ascension, he advised them to: “…stay in the city then, until you are clothed with the power from on high”.  This power from on high we must seek if we must make any positive impact upon this world of ours. We must therefore pay attention to what Jesus tells us in today’s gospel. As an experienced commander He knows the terrain we are about to lunch into very well, and what it takes to be successful there. He knows how delicate and fragile the hearts of men and women of our age are. He knows that only the Holy Spirit can convince them. So as we celebrate the solemnity of Ascension today, Jesus equally reminds us that for effective communication of the word of God to all nations irrespective of our enormous technological achievements, we must seek the light and counsel of the Holy Spirit. This is because, without Him we cannot transmit the gospel message adequately. It is the Holy Spirit that softens hardened hearts, opens deaf ears and greases tight lips in order to loosen them for effective communication and reception of the good news. This is why Paul prays: “May he enlighten the eyes of your mind…”

On a day like this therefore, we must equally reflect on our own role in a world that High-tech communication has transformed into a global village. As Christians what roles do we play in making sure that we communicate right morals, excellent spirituality, culture of peace, and other good Christian values? If we communicate positively the world becomes a wonderful place, but if on the contrary, we issue wrong signals, our world will be doomed. So, as we celebrate the World Communications Day today, we must ask God to help us through the power from on high (the Holy Spirit) into whose hands Christ commends us on his Ascension to teach us the right things and ways to witness to him in order to make our world a safe and better place.

 

Peace be with you!

 

Maranatha!!