Homily for 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A

OUR LIFE IS IN GOD’S HAND

Readings: (1st: Ish 49, 14-15; Ps 61, 2-3. 6-9; 2nd: 1Cor 4, 1-5; Gos: Matt 6, 24-34)     

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 of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans), 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 and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

On this 8th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year, A there is a blessed assurance from both God and the Church that as children of God, his love and care protects and overshadows us. God is ever close to us whether we know it or not, caring for us even in a manner that a nursing mother cannot care for her baby. Hence, Isaiah employs the metaphor of God as a mother to capture this caring nature of God.

Kathleen Schakowsky in her article published on August 22, 2012, in the Wall Street Journal titled: In South Africa, a Grassroots Battle on Baby Abandonment reported that: “When police in Port Elizabeth confirmed earlier this month that they had retrieved a newborn boy alive in a shoe box inside a plastic bag, it added to accounts of infants abandoned by mothers in toilets, flowerpots, railroad tracks, rubbish bins, sidewalks and city parks. According to one group, the number of abandoned babies fell from 2008 to 2009 but rose over the next two full years. Some 2,583 infants were abandoned across the country in 2011, up 36% from the year before, said the group, Child Welfare South Africa, a nongovernment organization that collected the data from 263 member organizations.” Also, statistics on Abandoned Children provided by an NGO called International Street Kids (ISK) has it that: “Over 400,000,000 abandoned children live on their own on the streets of hundreds of cities around the world. They subsist hand to mouth and struggle to just survive the day.”

Although the historical context of our first reading was Israel in exile, today, we as well as our entire world plunged into deep crisis, a gloomy future and to a great extent exiled from God are the newest contexts. Only God can make our future bright and possible, and the image of God as mother is used to emphasize this point. Isaiah 42, 14 presents God as pregnant and giving birth; 66:12-13 portrays God as nursing and comforting the newborn. The metaphor of God as mother is also basic to understanding the text we are considering.  It is possible for the actual mother of a child to forget her child, even her nursing child and for the literal mother of the child to show no compassion for a child she has borne as we see in the reports above. But it is not possible for God because he himself vowed that: “Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you!” Yes, something is not possible for God. God is faithful and this means that His options are limited. God will not and, indeed cannot forget us. This is an act of divine self-limitation. In fact, we are inscribed or engraved on the palms of God’s hands (Ish 44:5). We are therefore part of the very identity of God. He will forever be known as our God as the Psalmist asks: “What great nation has God as their god?” (Deut 4, 7). Come what may, we can count on God, not only to bring our future to birth, but to sustain our progressive life. God is Mother in a way that no earthly mother can be. This divine comfort and compassion for us is what the prophet assures us of today.  Of all the comfort that our earthly mother can bring to us, God’s comfort and compassion is unsurpassable.

In the second reading Paul draws our attention to what should matter to us, and this is the fact that we are: “Christ’s servants, stewards entrusted with the mysteries of God.” So, rather than worry ourselves to death about what human beings feel about us, we should like Paul, strive to be found “worthy of God’s trust.” Though we are not perfect, we should abandon ourselves to God. What matters most is what God says about us and not just what human beings who are greatly limited say about us. So what should bother or “worry” us is how to please God who has called us to be servants, rather than about how to please human beings. We must keep our conscience cleared and get ourselves relaxed in the hands of God to whom we owe great allegiance.

In today’s gospel, Jesus admonishes us to be focused with the business of God. Hence, he encourages us to remain united to God while paying less attention to the mundane, especially, money whose love we are told is the root of all evil (1Pt 6, 10): “You cannot serve two masters (God and money) at the same time. The most important message here for us today is the fact that we should place all our trust in God, live free of the worries of this life that weighs us down. We should do the best we can and place our trust in providence that will not disappoint us because Jesus has already assured us: “Caste all your burdens upon him because he cares for you” (1 Timothy 5, 7). Jesus says to us today do not worry (Greek: merimnesete, i.e. to be anxious, or to be apprehensive about possible danger or misfortune). Jesus is not commending recklessness, but calls us not to be distracted by worry.  He gave us this injunction because he knows full well that worry disables our life whereas, faith in God’s providence enables it. Jesus first tells us not to be anxious, and then provides the rationale.  God, who gave us life, will provide for our needs because our life is in his hands and so, He will not abandon us or allow us to become weary in life. To buttress this further he uses nature to teach us what it means to trust in God, of course while not encouraging us to be lazy. He says, “Look at the birds of the air…” We know it is true that birds “neither sow nor reap, nor gather into barns”, but they build nests, forage for food, and care for their young.  Even though we are to depend on providence, we must also make use of the little talent we have because we have an obligation to do something for our own good:  to work, to produce, to avoid idleness and dependency (2 Thess 3:6-13). Worry only wears us out and never adds anything to our life. Instead it tears up our physical and spiritual fabrics, shrinks us, and reduces the quality of our spiritual, moral, physical and psychological life. This is why Jesus puts this very daring question to us today while the least, not in any way encouraging us to be complacent or indifferent over important issues that require our urgent response. He asks us today: “…Can any of you by worrying add a single hour (Greek: pechun i.e. cubit) to your span of life?” My dear, the obvious answer is certainly a capital NO! Also, Jesus employs comparism between lilies (krina) and Solomon’s glory to illustrate lavish and flamboyant dressing.  God created krina to be even more lavish and flamboyant than even Solomon’s Sunday best regalia. By doing this Jesus is by no means saying that we should not put on good cloths or be elegantly dressed. Rather, he wants us to eschew worry and anxiety about material things such as clothing, money, food etcetera. While it is good to enjoy God’s wonderful endowments, we are not to worry about them. It suffices to note here that Jesus argues from the lesser to the greater. So, if Jesus takes care of little creatures such as wild birds, flowers and grasses, will He not take care of us his own brethren and fellow Imago Dei for whom he laid down His own life? Certainly He will, because, we are cherished by the tremendous love of God, which is tender, caring and forgiving above every human love. All we need do this gracious and glorious Sunday therefore is to pray that we may be able to surrender to this love and care in perfect trust that God is able and willing to take care of us. So, instead of worrying ourselves to death, we must like the Psalmist today proclaim: “In God alone is my soul at rest, my help comes from him. He alone is my rock, my stronghold, my fortress; I stand firm!

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!

 

Homily for 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A

LOVING BEYOND FRONTIERS AND BARRIERS

Readings: (1st: Lev 19, 1-2. 17-18; Ps 102, 1-4. 8-13; 2nd: 1Cor 3, 16-23; Gos: Matt 5:38-48) 

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 of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans), 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 and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

Today is the 7th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year, A. The church turns our attention to this very important theological as well as cardinal virtue, Love. Today, we celebrate the Lord who himself is Love and at the same time its fullest manifestation. We cannot therefore celebrate the Lord of Love without resolving to be more like him; for we are built into him like stones into a temple erected to give glory to God. Although the term love has been widely spoken about, acted out in great and legendary epics like William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the word itself is very simple with just four alphabets, yet, in spite of all these it still appears to be one of the most difficult thing to live out. One simple truth that is clear is that it is easier to talk about it than to live it. Only one person has perfected it, and that is God who did it through the free gift of his beloved son: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son” (Jh 3, 16) and, “behold the manner of love with which God loved us that we should be called the sons of God” (1 Jh 3, 1-3). It was St. Augustine who once said: “Love and do whatever you wish to do.” In order words, love must be the fulcrum and the impetus agitat (the driving force) of our actions words, correction, admonitions, etcetera. Whatever is not done in, and out of love is as good as being a flatus vocis (empty effort) that can only bear ill-fruits. We are supposed to be, in a popular Yoruba parlance and name “Ile Ife” (house of love) from which love flows and is dispensed to others. This is what it actually means to be a disciple of Christ. That is, one who is capable of loving beyond the frontiers, barriers and encumbrances of life. Virtually, all the readings of this “Agapitos Sunday,” including the Psalm centers on love, a term which appears in the bible over a hundred times.

The first reading of today begins with the horizontal aspect of love. It focuses strongly on the need to one to love ones neighbor. It is worthy of note that it did not specify any condition that our neighbor has to meet before we could love him or her. This means that it has to be an unconditional type of love. In this reading, Moses tells us the best way to relate with one another and afterwards, he concluded with an imperative: “Love your neighbor as yourself!” It suffices to note that from this reading, that everything we are to do with or to our neighbor ranging from corrections, admonition, criticism, etcetera, are nothing but signs that we love our neighbor. However, one must do all these in love. Also, love will help us bear with the failings of the other. The Psalmist moves us a step further in the vertical direction by telling us that: “The Lord is compassion and love, slow to anger and rich in mercy…” Here, the Psalmist crafts together three important virtues: Love, Compassion and Mercy as attributes of God. These are what God showers on us and equally expects us as, “Ile Ife” (house of love to) dispense it unto our neighbors and those around us. In the second reading Paul exalts the Corinthians as well as we. He advances an argument in order to help us live as one family and people in love. In this reading, he reminds us that we are God’s temple. That is, the seat of love, better still the temple of love. Therefore we are not to temper with this temple because, we belong to Christ the owner of the temple.

In the gospel, Jesus the “Preventive Counselor” continues his teaching and discourse on the commands or laws of God. Today, he is in the domain of love. He takes love to another dimension and introduces a twist that seems difficult – not just loving ones neighbor but also loving ones enemy! He says: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Honestly, this is a hard teaching but by the grace of God it is possible as Paul tells us: “I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me” (Phil 4, 13). Being able to do this irrespective of the difficulties is a mark of a true Christian. This is the reason Christ adds: “In this way you will be sons of your father in heaven.” Jesus knows the importance of love in the family, community and nation. That is why he spends much time stressing it. Loving, praying for, and forgiving one’s enemy is an extension of Jesus’ broader teaching about the perfection of God (5:48).  In typical fashion, Jesus provides an intriguing image to capture the meaning of this quality of God, one that God’s followers should emulate.

Love unites, because it forgives, bears, corrects gently, is patience and tolerates (1Cor 13). A community lacking love never stands or progresses, like wise a family or nation that lacks Love. An individual who lacks love cannot love himself enough not to talk of extending it to the other. Jesus in today’s reading also condemns revenge but rather encourages endurance even in the face of oppression or persecution. Hence he says to us, “You have learnt how it was said: eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I say to you: offer the wicked no resistance… if any one hits you on the right cheek, offer him the other as well…” Is Jesus discouraging us from self defense? No! Instead, he wishes that we endure the insult from our neighbours patiently. A few years ago Tiger Woods won the Masters Tournament. Instead of congratulating him, a “jealous” man called Fuzzy Zoeller responded with some mean, racist remarks which though he intended to be funny, but unfortunately was negative. For this unholy and demeaning comment, this man received a great deal of well deserved criticism from world press, but Tiger Woods’ response was, “We all make mistakes, and it’s time to move on.” Tiger Woods could have returned the insult but he refused to retaliate. Instead, he said, “Let’s move on.” How many of us would share Tiger Woods’ response? Is this our attitude when we bear the brunt of insults, castigation, persecutions, or even denial? Can you say, “We all make mistakes and it’s time to move on?” Jesus did not suggest tit for tat. He was not in the business of getting even. Instead, he preached love for our enemies and generosity towards them. Unfortunately, naturally we are vindictive. Vindictiveness will corrode and erode our heart. It will sour and grieve our spirit. We are very much unlike Jesus Christ who simply says to God on our account every day: “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” As soon as someone starts a rumor about us what do we do? We get on our high horse. Our backs arch like a cat. We show our fangs. We are ready to do battle and to revenge. If given a chance, we will hang their hide on the wall. We believe that we must defend ourselves and vindicate ourselves. When it came to this kind of thing, our Lord Jesus was not concerned about His reputation. We must graduate from the kindergarten spiritually, and enroll in Jesus’ college or tertiary spirituality. We must be willing to leave retaliation in God’s hands. This is not to imply that we are to be passive in your relationships. Jesus often confronted those around Him, but He was not vindictive. Jesus did not threaten His accusers with harm, but showed them love, because Love is the root of life!

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!

Homily for 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A

Living Christ’s Law: The Choice of Life!

Readings: (1st: Ecc 15: 15-20; Ps 118: 1-2. 4-5; 2nd: Heb2, 6-10; Gos: Matt 5:17-37)  

 

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 of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans), 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 and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

On this 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time Year A, the church invites us to reflect on the Commands of Jesus and to pay close attention to what the Law of the Lord actually commands and demands from us. This command differs from any man-made law and is imbued with the wisdom that comes from God Himself. Since this Command or Law is a product of God’s love, it can only be appreciated or fulfilled through a genuine love and concern for others. So, we are encouraged to faithfully obey these commands as they are the source of our salvation and life. Living and obeying God’s Law means choosing the FUNDAMENTAL OPTION OF LIFE, while the contrary means death!

Imagine a community, state, or even a world without rules, regulations, laws or a constitution to govern its people. I suppose it would be worst than Thomas Hobbs “State of Nature,” where according to the Plautus’ comedy of 195 BC, Asinaria: “Homo homini lupus est (Man is wolf to man”). Imagine a football match without rules to guide it!  I once watched one between the Christian Mothers and Fathers of my parish. During this game which was actually meant to create fun due to age and inexperience, a mother-player or even a mother on the bench or on the side line could suddenly rush into the pitch grab the ball by her hands as if she was playing Rugby or American Football, and head straight for the post. If she succeeds in casting it into the post it is counted as a goal for her team whereas, the Christian fathers could not do that. We all know that in a normal football game knowing and playing by the rules of the game is the beginning of wisdom, and what keeps one in the game, else, a player who deliberately handles the ball could be sent off with a flash of a red card from a FIFA graded Umpire. Laws and rules are an important part of our lives. Without rules or laws our world would be a place of anarchy and confusion. Aristotle said: “At his best, man is the noblest of all animals; separated from law and justice he is the worst.” We need laws! We need rules!! They help us know the boundaries!!!

In today’s first reading, Ben Sirac (the son of Sirac) presents and tosses the two sides of the coin for us and leaves us with the choice of life and death. In other words, he gives us the freedom of choice through the following conditional statement: “If you wish you can keep the commandments, to behave faithfully is within your power…Man has life and death before him, which ever a man likes better will be given him…”  The major focus here is on obeying the commands of the Lord. Moses also, in his farewell speech revealed to the Israelites the secrete of life: “See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction…walk in the ways of God, keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase” (Deut 30, 15-16) This simply means that by obeying the Law of God, we make the choice of life. The Psalmist today also speaks further on the need for us to choose life by obeying the commands of God. He anchors humanity’s source of true happiness in following and obeying the Lord’s Command: “They are happy who follow God’s Law; they are happy who do his will…” In all of these, we must be very careful not to become mere fundamentalists, fanatics or even hypocrites as the Pharisees who out of the twelve laws given to them, made a whooping six hundred and thirteen other rules which they themselves could not observe. This is why we must pray like, and with the Psalmist today: Train me to observe your law, to keep it within my heart.” We must live the Spirit of the Law and not just its letters!

In the second reading, Paul prefers to use wisdom to refer to Christ’s Commands. In other words, to obey the commands of Christ is the wisest thing to do. Hence, it is a mark of wisdom to choose to obey and live by the Law of Christ which is his word as the Psalmist tells us: “The entrance of your word brings wisdom” (Ps 119: 130). Paul contrasts this wisdom that comes from obeying Christ’s Law or Command with those from human philosophy. What this means is that the commands of the Lord transcends and supersedes the words of men. The wisdom that comes from the Laws of God are things of the Spirit which are themselves the word of God divinely inspired, whereas, the wisdom of men are mundane. Hence, Jesus tells us that, “what is born of the spirit is spirit and what is born of the flesh is the flesh…”(John 3, 6).

The gospel from Matthew 5, 17-37, and verse 17 in particular, has offered great debates and reflections to biblical scholars as to what Christ meant when he says: “Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them but to complete them.” After this pronouncement, in what seems to be a contradiction, Jesus went ahead to marshal out what appears to be a new or even more difficult rules. Another source of controversy is the fact that we make reference to Christ as the New Law in the New Testament and Moses as the Old Law in the Old Testament. How do we reconcile these quagmires and what is the Lord teaching us today? First and foremost, Jesus is true to his word! He did not come to bring a new law or to abolish the old law, but to fulfill it. According to Charles Spurgeon, “the life, work, and words of Christ are not an emendation of the Old Testament or an abrogation of it. It stands fast and firm, fulfilled and carried to perfection in Christ.” The Greek word for “abolish” is kataluo from kata, i.e. down and luo, i.e. loose, untie; release, to destroy, pull down, to break up, to demolish, etc. This means to abrogate or set aside the exercise of legislative authority. To a religious Jew (like Jesus Christ Himself), even the thought of such a thing would be a profanity. On the other hand, the Greek word for “fulfill” is alla plerosai i.e., pleroo which means full. This   means to make complete in every particular, to complete the design, and to fulfill what was predicted in the OT. Again, in his sermon “Perpetuity of the Law,” Spurgeon mentioned three ways through which Christ fulfilled the Law. “First, the law is fulfilled in the matchless sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Secondly, the law has been fulfilled again for us by Christ in His life. But that is not all. The law has to be fulfilled in us personally in a spiritual and gospel sense.”

Today’s pronouncement of Jesus is treaty against hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the Sadducees of both his time and our present age who interpret the law falsely in order to suit their idiosyncrasy and to the detriment of the people. It a treaty against all false Seers, Healers, Leaders and Pastors of flocks who employ the word of God and the messengers formula “Koh ȃmar Adonai” (Thus says the Lord!) falsely in order to intimidate, rip off, exploit, subjugate and enslave people. It is a treaty against those of our present age who see sin in everything or every action of the human person especially in things they cannot comprehend thereby making life difficult for others while they themselves fall short of virtually everything the word of God commands. It is a treaty against those self made or acclaimed “women” and “men of God” who take care of their flock in foreign lands whereas their family is in shambles because of lack of care and love. It is a treaty against those of our age who view the word of God as a six inches nail or screw that must be driven into people by force with a sledge hammer. Finally, it is a treaty against the Pharisees of our time who pay the greatest attention to the letters of the law but make little effort to live the Spirit of the Law.

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!

Homily for 5th Sunday of Ordinary Time – Year A

  Making the difference as Salt and Light in our World!

Readings: (1st: Ish 58, 7-10; Ps 111, 4-9; 2nd: Heb2, 1-5; Gos: Matt 5 13-16)   

 

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 of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans), 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 and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

This 5th Sunday’s celebration is overshadowed and punctuated with a great “If.” This is because of the question: How much more brightly would that light shine “If” we who are Christians were really like Christ? The Church of Christ is a light in the darkness. So we as members are supposed to be light shining in the darkness of the world.

In our first reading this Sunday, the Prophet Isaiah provides us with the recipe required for our light to shine. They include: “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the homeless poor, cloth the man you see to be naked and turn not from your kin” These are the basic necessities of life which forms the back bone of the Universal Declaration of Thirty Human Rights created by United Nations 1948.  In fact they are not just Human Rights, but “Fundamental Human Rights”: Food, Shelter and Clothing. Depravation of these rubs humanity of dignity and pride. We as Christians and light therefore must ensure that no one is deprived of these because doing this will amount to structural injustice and a sin against Charity and Providence. Therefore, we must be “that good man” the Psalmist of today talks about “who is light in the darkness for the up right,” by standing out and up, tall and insisting on justice for the poor and the oppressed.

In the second reading, Paul proved to be a practical example of the light that shone among the Corinthians. His presence illuminated their darkness and added flavour to their soured lives. Also as salt he helped in preserving their salvation. He did this not only through his teaching or words but through his actions and deeds. He recalled thus: “When I came to you, brothers it was not with any show of oratory or philosophy but simply to tell you what God had granted.” Yes, Paul did this in a very simple way and equally lived out what he preached. He proved to be indeed the light through which the pagan Corinthians came to see, and the salt which sweetened their lives for good.  Therefore, our encounter with people must leave them better than we met them. It must rub off the dust of worry, shame, despair, and disappointment; cast off the veil of ignorance that sets them back, and it must make them appreciate the Truth and draw closer to God. Like Immanuel Levanas, we must continually ask ourselves: “How do I encounter the other and leave him better than I met him?”

In today’s gospel, Jesus uses salt in conjunction with light in continuation of his Sermon (Beatitudes) on the Mount. During the Old Testament times, salt was used to season the sacrifice offerings, which people made to ask God for forgiveness, and they did so as a reminder of their covenant with God: “And every oblation of your meat offering shall you season with salt; neither shall you suffer the salt of the covenant of your God …all your offerings you shall offer salt” Also, during those times land agreement was sealed with a gift of salt, which showed the strength and permanence of the contract. Therefore, salt points to the effects of a truthful permanent agreement, and as such it changes behavior. In addition, salt was a symbol of God’s activity in a person’s life as it penetrates, preserves, and aids in healing. So that is how God becomes active in our lives. Once we turn to him and allow him to penetrate every aspect of our lives, he preserves us from the evil around and heals us from our wounds. Jesus calls us “salt of the earth” in Matt 5:13. As followers of Christ what qualities are we then supposed to have as salts? First, we must always be faithful to Him and also remember God’s faithfulness to us just as salt when used with sacrifice recalled God’s faithful covenant with his people. Second as salt, we must make a difference in the flavor of the world we live in. Finally, we are to counteract the moral decay in society, heal its wounds and preserve its life just as salt helps wounds heal and preserve food from decay.  Anything short of this we have lost our taste! Any time a Christian gets so entangled to the world to the extent of avoiding the cost of standing up for Jesus, such a believer has lost his characteristic and unique quality of saltiness. Therefore as salts the onus lies on us to preserve the goodness of the world and prevent dangerous, cantankerous and nefarious ubiquitous microorganisms from initiating decays in our world. 

Again, Jesus refers to us Christians as the light. In spite of referring to us as light it suffices to note that, Jesus Himself is the Great Light and of course the source of our own light: Jesus is “… the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world” (John 1:9). He brings light into the darkness, helps us see our way to God, and shows us how to walk along that way in this world. Therefore as Christians we are to reflect or in other words, to witness God’s light unto the world. ‘Witness’ here simply indicates our role as reflectors of God’s light and pointing others to the source of our light. As Christians, we must be ready to expose darkness which includes what is deceptive, foggy, unfaithful, untrustworthy, abusive and malevolent. As light, we must help in raising the fallen state of humanity, our society and melt away both spiritual paralysis and apathy; we must represent “what is good, pure, true, holy, and reliable” (Phil 4, 8). Yes if as Christians we are to be “salt” and “light” we must be good ones, and not counterfeit or the good for nothing types. Of course, light can be very useless especially if it the very- low current type.

Since “charity begins at home,” we must not hide our light. Especially, we must not hide it at home and in our relationships as these are part of the missionary fields we are all called to minister unto. Our families and relations are fertile fields for planting the seeds of Truth. As believers, first and foremost our missionary work is to let our parents, children, spouse, siblings, friends, colleagues, and neighbors see our light through our faith and Spirit. Therefore our light must shine bright so that we can be sure that they see the love, helpfulness, generosity, and joy in us as the connecting glue that makes us all one heavenly family. When we become aware of the light that we are in Christ, we will become aware of the gifts God has given us and so, will find that he will give us the power we need to accomplish our destiny. Our destiny then is simply whatever task God gives us. He will place us in our rightful position, on a candlestick so that we can give light unto all that are in the house and on the hill. As Pastor Tim Chaddick always says,“We must not conceal what God has made clear.” It is however sad to note that many of us have done just this! We have put ourselves “under a bushel,” by hiding from sight and being reluctant to be identified as Christians.Corruption, avarice, greed, bitterness and rancor, over ambitiousness,complacency, resentment, embarrassment, stubbornness of heart, self-empowerment, disobedience, etcetera. We must ask ourselves this Sunday: What bushels do I need to remove in order to let my light shine? Therefore, being light in darkness calls for courage, dexterity, and developing of a very strong moral and spiritual fiber; being very prayerful, being equipped with the word of God, vigilance, discipline and faith in God (Eph 6, 10-20).

Brethren, let us prayer this Sunday as we strive to make a difference in our world: “May the salt we use and taste each day remind us that we are now God’s covenant people who actively help preserve, purify and heal our world. May the light in our life that we take for granted, from the lamp in home or the street to the flash light and to our relations, remind us of the very Source of Light who is the Source of Life – Jesus, and may we never take him for granted.”

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!