Homily for Laetare (4th) Sunday of Lent – Year A

Christ Our Shepherd-King Cares For, And Heals Us!
Readings: (1st: I Sam 16:1.6-13; Ps 22; 2nd: Eph 5:8-14; Gos: Jh 9:1-41)

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.

As we continue our journey this Lenten season, Jesus continues to manifest his authority as both shepherd and king over his people and the circumstances of our life. As the anointed one from the Davidic lineage Christ assures us his flock by his gratuitous saving help that though we are often assailed by fears and misgivings in this world of darkness, He, our Shepherd-King and the second David lights up our ways and leads us to his Kingdom unblemished. So, on this Laetare (4th) Sunday of Lent the Holy Mother Church exalts us to be joyful because, Christ our Shepherd-King comes to us with power, majesty and dominion in a special way in order to cure us of both the physical and spiritual blindness that prevent us from living our lives to its fullest potential. He is willing to do this because he cares for us and considers our well being more paramount above every other thing else.
In the first reading of today, we find that in making David the Shepherd-King, Samuel did not act out of impulse, emotion or human inclination. Instead, he simply obeyed and went to where he was sent to, Bethlehem and specifically to Jesse’s tribe to which God directed him. He could have gone to the tribe of Zebulun, Naphtali, or elsewhere, or even to any nearby town to anoint someone, but he went according to the mind of God and not according to his personal inclination. What do we learn from this? Quite simple! First, whenever we neglect God and the Holy Spirit in making decisions definitely we get it wrong and incur both the wrath of God and men as a direct or indirect consequence of our wrong action or disobedience. Second, we must be patient in carrying out the command or injunction of God. We must note the patience and humility of Samuel when he said: “Send for him, we will not seat down to eat until he comes.” Samuel stood up and waited for a long time, only God knows how many hours until the young David arrived. He was not weary or rushed into any rash decision of anointing any other person around because the right person was not yet there, but he waited patiently because no one could convince him to anoint any other son of Jesse beyond the conviction he got from God: “I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen myself a king among his sons.” Third, we must not allow physical appearance to deceive us. It took listening to God and discernment for Samuel to avert the danger of being deceived by the appearance of Eliab who was tall, handsome, elegant, and of course available. It is quite unfortunate that some of us so much rely on these physical qualities in selecting our leaders, rulers, shepherds, kings, etcetera. The result has always been catastrophic. But when we make the right choice and decision people are liberated, the blind see, the lame work, the hungry are fed, the poor become rich, the aggrieved and afflicted become satisfied and harmony returns to both the individual and the entire nation.
In the second reading of today Paul reminds us of our former and forlorn state before Christ our Shepherd-King came to liberate us from darkness. Sin clouds the mind in darkness and closes the heart to God’s love and truth. Only in the light of God’s truth can we see sin for what it really is, a rejection of God and opposition to his will. The Pharisees equated physical blindness and sickness with sin as we shall see shortly in today’s gospel. While the scriptures indicate that sin can make the body and mind sick as well as the soul, not all sickness, however is the result of sin. Hence, Paul admonishes us on the need to: “…Be (and live as) children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth.” We do this by trying to discover and do what the Lord our Shepherd-King wants us to do. What Paul is simply saying here is that Christ our anointed Shepherd-King is the light that illumines our life. Living outside Him means abiding in darkness. We must therefore this season of Lent make frantic efforts to draw close to Christ who cares for us and to the one who shows us the way and heals both our physical and spiritual infirmities.
In today’s gospel, we read of Jesus’ demonstration of power by restoring the sight of a man born blind. Here Jesus our Shepherd-King shows that he cares for the well being of his flock especially the sick and the weak. He, like David his ancestor, went out of his way without minding his detractors and distractions to tend his flock. Of utmost importance in today’s gospel is the question that Jesus’ disciple put to him concerning the blind man’s blindness: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” From this, it is quite obvious that the disciples’ question assumes that suffering is caused by sin. It could be the parents’ sin (Ex 34:7; Nu 14:18; and Deu 5:9) or the blind man’s sin, but he was blind from birth. The parents probably assumed that his blindness was their fault. But Jesus was quick to add: “Neither did this man sin, nor his parents; but, that the works of God might be revealed in him!” in other words, this man’s situation provided an opportunity for Jesus to heal him, thereby revealing God’s works. Sickness befalls us for a variety of reasons. Paul reminds us that: “In everything, God works for good with those who love him” (Rom 8:28). So the blind man, once cured, marveled and proclaimed to the glory of God: “Never since the world began has it been heard that any one opened the eyes of a man born blind.” This miracle remarkably reveals the power and glory of God. It is very important to mention here that although Jesus said that the man’s suffering was not caused by sin, however, we should not forget that there often is a connection between sin and suffering. Yes, it is absolutely true as Jesus our Shepherd king has rightly taught that not all suffering is caused by sin, but all sin causes suffering. Jesus shows us that sin and suffering are not always related, but not that they are never related.
The lessons which we must learn from this man include that the man was obedient to the instruction or injunction given to him: “Go wash in the pool of Siloam,” just as Naaman the Syrian was, though, after much argument and persuasion (II Kg 5: 1-15), and as Samuel obeyed God’s command to go to the house of Jesse to anoint the Shepherd-King. The blind man did not mince words there but simply obeyed what Christ asked him to do. Of course, he got his healing immediately. Many of us are so stubborn that we do not obey the commands of Christ our anointed Shepherd-King yet, we want to be liberated. The second lesson is that we must be consistent with our words, faith, convictions, and the truth. In spite of all the quizzing and intimidation of the Pharisees the man remained truthful and firm without caving in or denying that it was Christ that healed him. Instead, he insisted: “The man called Jesus…said to me go and wash at Siloam; so I went, and when I washed I could see…He is a prophet!” According to St. John Chrysostom: “The the Pharisees cast him out of the Temple; but the Lord of the Temple found him.” If our witness of Jesus and his redeeming power in our lives separates us from our fellow neighbors, it nonetheless draws us nearer to Jesus himself. Paul warns us to avoid the darkness of sin that we might walk more clearly in the light of Christ (Eph. 5:8-12). So my dear brethren, as we continue our journey this Lenten season, we must not allow any blind spot to blur our vision of what God is doing for us, offering us, and requiring of us? We must continue to say of our Shepherd-King as the Psalmist: “The lord is my Shepherd (and King); there is nothing I shall want” (Ps. 22:1)!
Peace be with you all!
Maranatha!!

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Homily for 3rd Sunday of Lent – Year A

Refreshing Our Life With Christ The Eternal Living Water!

Readings: (1st: Ex 17: 3-7; Ps 94:1-2.6-9; 2nd: Rom 5: 1-2.5-8; Gos: Matt 4:5-42)        

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.

The Psalmist echoes thus: “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God…”; “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation…”(Ps 42:1; 62, 1), while St Augustine corroborates and affirms him in his Confession: “O Lord, our heart is restless until it rest in you!” (Lib 1, 1-2, 2.5, 5: CSEL 33, 1-5).In other words, just as water quenches our physical thirst, only Christ the spiritual and Eternal Living Water can quench our spiritual thirst and give rest to our forlorn souls. Today the Holy Mother Church encourages us as we continue our journey this Lenten season to quench our spiritual thirst with the Eternal Living Water which is Christ. She also calls us to break all cultural barriers, prejudices and segregation in order to let the eternal living water flow into all hearts.

In the first reading and gospel of today, one finds that water was mentioned explicitly. Whereas in the second, it was implicitly referred to by Paul’s use of the verb: “to pour.” What is water and why is it important to us on this third Sunday of Lent? One of the most important requirements for the sustenance of all lives on earth is water (Greek – νερό, nero), a compound with one of the simplest chemical and structural formulae (H20). Studies have shown that it makes up to 60-75 percent of the total body fluid of the human person. The case is not different for most other living organism especially, plants. This means that complete withdrawal or dehydration of water from any living organism is the fastest means of killing it. Although, water in itself has close to zero energy value, its importance cannot be over flogged for the continuous existence of living organisms. The most important functions of water include that it lubricates and activates the cells which contains the energy and power house of life in living organisms, it flushes toxins, boosts immune systems, helps to relieve headache, prevents cramps and strains etcetera. Water is a common Old Testament metaphor for the satisfaction of spiritual needs (Ps 23:2; 42:1; Is 12:3).  Jesus’ use of the phrase, “living water,” has its roots in the OT (Jer 2:13; 17:13). This is also paralleled by his later reference to “the bread of life” (Jh 6:35) and “living bread” (Jh 6:51).

The first reading of today tells us of the ordeal of the Israelites in the wilderness on their way out of their captivity after 430 years (Ex 12, 40). They grumbled against Moses and of course, indirectly, against God because they were thirsty. Moses was instructed by God to strike the rock from which water came forth. They drank and were satisfied. Both the rock Moses struck and the water that gushed out from it allegorically and metaphorically prefigure Christ who is both our rock and the eternal living water. Though the Israelites felt only the need for their physical thirst, but the water that flowed from the rock was spiritual and thus played the dual role of quenching both their physical and spiritual thirst. Like the Israelites, most of us Christians do not know what we actually want, and because we are confused, we end up complaining about everything, and gallivanting from one adoration ministry, fellowship, night vigil, etcetera, to another. Unfortunately for most of us, we often times end up where there is no solution to our spiritual thirst. What we need is not just “miracles”, but a spiritual drink of the living water that flows from the Rock of Ages. Like St Augustine, we must allow our souls to rest in God if must be satisfied. Hence, we must:“With joy…draw water from the well of salvation” (Ish 12: 13), in order to quench our spiritual thirst on our own journey this Lenten season.

In the second reading, Paul employs one of the properties of water or fluids, that is, ability “to flow” or “to pour,” to describe how the Love of God (Christ the Eternal Living Water) “is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.” He reminds us also of how helpless our life was and could still be without Christ the Living Water upon which our continuous existence depends. In other words, through his death, Christ made himself the source of our own life, because through the water and blood that flowed from his side when he was pierced on the cross (Jh 19: 34), he became the living spring and the source of our life. Cut off from this spring therefore we can do nothing (Jh 15: 5), because it is the water that flows from it that lubricates and gives life to the “spiritual cells” of our own life.

In the gospel of today, Jesus presents himself to the Samaritan woman as the Eternal Living Water. This underscores His importance in our life. Jesus’ discourse with the Samaritan woman today is an eye opener to us Christians. Through it, he was able to prove to us that he is the spring, source and sustainer of our life. It suffices to note that the woman was surprised that Jesus asked her for a drink and says, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” Here Jesus is given the label “Jew” by the Samaritan woman, while at John 8:48, He was labeled a “Samaritan” by His fellow Jews. Both of these labels are given to him in less than a friendly manner, to say the least. He is a stranger to both groups, and this is a confirmation of what the scripture says about him: “He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him” (Jh 1: 11). This hostile relationship between Jews and Samaritans apparently goes back to post-exilic times, and after so many centuries the wounds still festered. The use of racial slurs continues to drive a wedge between the two groups. In spite of all these, Christ was not discouraged but pressed on with his mission and feeding on his “food” which as he told his disciples is: “To do the will of the One who sent me!” The lesson from this is that we like Jesus, must not discriminate against people especially in helping to bring them to the Eternal Living Water. Jesus knew quite well who the woman was and what she needed the most in life just as he knows us. He knew that she was a Samaritan, “an enemy” of the Jew. Yet, he approached her to ask for a drink. It also suffices to note that while the proximate aim of Jesus in approaching the woman for a drink might be to quench his physical thirst (though John did not tell us whether He drank the water or not after all), his remote aim was to convert her by drawing her closer to Himself the Eternal living Water. By breaking the silence and going against the social customs, conventions, prejudices and the hostilities between Jews and Samaritans, Jesus becomes the gift of God to this woman and her people.

Like Jesus therefore, we must be ready to take a risk, challenge the unspoken rules of social structures and norms, break down walls that alienate people, open up possibilities to others so that they can experience and quench their spiritual thirst with the gift of God- the Eternal Living Water. Finally, the argument that ensued between Jesus and the woman represents the obstacles, question and hurdles that we must be ready to scale before we can succeed in convincing people about Christ, the Eternal Living Water. In other words, they represent the “rational” or “philosophical Stubbornness” that the society will present to us before they finally yield to the gospel message. However, if we ourselves are connected to the Eternal Living Water, we shall have a better and more convincing witness to bear to them without getting weary.

Peace be with you all!

Maranatha!!

Homily for 2nd Sunday of Lent – Year A

Working For Our Lasting And Future Glory!

Readings: (1st: Gen 12, 1-4; Ps 32, 4-5. 18-22; 2nd: 1Tim 1, 8-10; Gos: Matt 17, 1-9)   

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 second Sunday of Lent, Year A, the Lord through his transfiguration gives us a glimpse of what the future and lasting glory that awaits us look like. Through this, he spurs and urges us on to be strong and courageous in our journey this season of Lent and beyond. Hence, if we adhere to our call obediently, we shall surely have every reason to simile home with the “Abrahamic type of “blessing” and also, attain Our Lasting Future Glory.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine residing abroad came home with his eleven year old son, Sochima. The unassuming little boy fell in love with the village natural environment: the goats, rams, fouls, birds, squirrels, trees, vegetable gardens, fruits etcetera. He was as free as air to the point that he even walked about barefooted because of the sensation the natural sand gave his little foot. The greatest of it all was that Sochima fell in love with the kid of his grandpa’s ram to the extent that he bathed it every day and carried it on his shoulders like the portrait of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Also, he fed it with tea, bread and in fact whatever he himself eat and the kid responded well. Noticing that the holiday was coming to an end, the poor boy begged his father to allow him stay back in the village or let him travel along with the kid.  His father explained to him that he has to go back because of his studies and that due to international regulations on the trafficking and transportation of animals across borders it will not be possible for the kid to come along. In the morning of the day they were to leave for the city from where they would board their flight the following day, the boy eloped with the kid to an unknown destination. A few hours later, he was found hiding with the kid in a nearby uncompleted building where he was cuddling and caressing it like his baby. His dad and grandpa persuaded him that it was time to go back abroad. Reluctantly, and after much crying he succumbed, bade farewell to his beloved kid and went with them. Unfortunately, a few days latter, the kid died. The boy like the “Inner Circle Apostles” in our gospel today had a glimpse of what nature is all about having lived in an “artificial environment” all his life and so desired to remain there not minding his studies or what international regulation says. But his father like Jesus knows that he has a task ahead and so gently urged him on.

In the first reading, God called and “commanded” Abram thus: “Leave your country… for the land I will show you…” It is important to note that this call has with it a promise: “I will make you a great nation…bless you…curse those who curse you.” But what is the condition for these blessings coming to fruition? Simple! Abram has to effectively respond to the clarion call not only “to leave” but to live up to expectation in his mission. In order words, his part of the covenant is obeying the “leave injunction.” Many times one hears people claiming Abraham’s blessings, without knowing that the condition necessary for the total appropriation and release of this blessing is strongly tied to obedience to God’s will and call. Response to the call has its attendant hardship. It must make one “leave something” behind no matter how pleasant and precious that thing is to one. It must make you do what ordinarily you would not want to do. Ask religious men and women, and they will tell you it is not easy being under a Superior or Mother General. Ask diocesan clergy men, and they will tell you how difficult it is to be under the leadership of one bishop for twenty five or more years. Ask married couples, and they will tell you many unpleasant tales about married life. In fact there are thousands of marriage cases at the marriage tribunal yearning for nullification. In short, response to the call must make you “leave” your comfort zone. When you live your call well, in spite of all these then, the “Abrahamic blessings” becomes yours. In the second reading Paul once again directs us to the grace of God as what sustains us in our bid to respond to our call. This grace though ancient, because it was there “before the beginning of time” was revealed by the appearing of Jesus Christ. In order words, we must in our daily efforts to respond to our call look up to this ancient grace which is Christ who by his death and resurrection has guaranteed our future glory.

In the gospel of today, and in what appears like one of Nollywood cum African Magic’s epic movies, the “Transfiguration drama” unfolds. Peter’s wishful statement on behalf of his colleagues: “Lord it is wonderful for us to be here…” represents the thought and attitude of most of us Christians. Often times, we tend to get so attached to a thing or place that we lose our focus. We want to remain in “big parishes” with its luxury, where people pay heavy tithe, where everything and everyone is at our disposal, and nothing at all perturbs our sleep. The temptation is for us to “lobby” as Peter did in order not to be posted out just for the immediate comfort, wealth and the “glory” it affords us. The members of Jesus’ inner circle reasoned like humans. Like most Christians, they allowed their human inclinations and reasoning to overshadow the spiritual. Also, their request betrayed their selfishness. If they remain there, what happens to the rest of the disciples who did not come along with them by no fault of theirs? Furthermore, they wished like most of us, to fast forward the hands of the clock by reducing an eon to a glimpse of time, and so missed the mark. The glory of God is revealed to us in order to sustain us, to let us know that if we work hard and respond effectively to our call, one day we shall be among the triumphant church represented by Elijah and Moses. The glory we experienced today in the transfiguration is not our last bus stop. Rather, it is only a glimpse, a tip of the iceberg of what our final destination looks like. It is like moving the FIFA World Cup from continent to continent in order to ignite passion for the game of football. It is not for any country to relax and say: “After all, the trophy has been to our country therefore, there is no point going to Brazil 2014”. No! The greatest joy and lasting glory comes through working hard and actually winning the trophy.

The “Transfiguration drama” only reveals the future glory in Christ for those who respond to their call very well. This future glory is for those who have washed themselves pure in the blood of the Lamb, those who travailed in prayer and good works and for those who have graduated through the “furnace of this world” for the sake of the good news (Rev 12:11). It is quite unfortunate that most Christians today want to share in this glory without working for it. We want the double portion of Abrahamic blessings without being ready to leave anything behind, we want to share in the double portion of Elijah’s anointing without first contending with the Jezebels and Ahabs of our time (I Kg 19), we want to  share in the double portion of the prophetic power and might of Moses without undertaking the onerous task of leading the stubborn children of God out of the land of their captivity (Ex 6: 13), and like the sons of Zebedee, we want to seat at the right hand of Jesus’ throne (Mk 10: 37), when we have not drank of the cup he drank. What an Irony! After today brethren, let us get back to work, of course, with the picture of what we are working for and walking towards in our minds. It should serve as the “activation energy” motivating us to our lasting and future glory. We must obey his command and call for us to: “Stand up”, because the “mock drama” is over for now. So, let us go down the mountain to prepare and work for the “real”, final and lasting “drama” at the end of time. As we do this, Jesus bids us today as ever before: “Do not be afraid!”

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!

Homily for 1st Sunday of Lent – Year A

Sharing Jesus’ Wilderness Experience this Lent

Readings: (1st: Gen 7, 7-9. 3, 1-7; Ps 50, 3.6-17; 2nd: Rom 4, 12-19; Gos: Matt 4, 1-11)          

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 first Sunday of Lent Year A, and in it we are specially invited by the Church to celebrate Jesus Christ the second Adam, who by the power of the Holy Spirit overcame temptation and sin, and who by his obedience and faithfulness to the Father’s will gained back the world to the Father. This season of Lent as the Church in her wisdom has fashioned it, is a period when we join Jesus in his “Wilderness Experience” (praying and fasting) in order to prepare ourselves for the rest of the year and for the journey of faith ahead. Therefore, this season calls for great discipline, courage, fortitude, vigilance, surveillance, and above all a strong faith and hope in God. It is also, a period when we must strike a strong pact with the Holy Spirit our Advocate. We must also key in to the abundant grace that God has made available to us through his son Jesus Christ, the second Adam. If we tarry with Jesus in the wilderness this season fasting and praying, we shall find the strength and boldness with which to say to Satan and his cohorts: “Be off!” Indeed, he will definitely go away from us while the Hosts of Heaven will be at our beck and call to minister to us.

Through our first reading today, we kick off our journey into Lent by recalling the beginning of our salvific history which begins first with the creation of humankind represented by Adam and Eve, humanity’s temptation, disobedience and subsequent yielding to sin. It is through the disobedience of our progenitors that we all became venerable to temptation and (Original) Sin which consequently led to what St. Augustine of Hippo refers to as “massa damnata”(damned masses). From this reading therefore, it is evident that while temptation in itself is not sin, sin in its entire ramification is a gross act of disobedience against our Creator. Again, it is a violation of the natural order of things as Adam and Eve did by eating of the forbidden fruit. It suffices to note the important stages that Eve went through before she finally succumbed to Satan. After Satan’s appeal to Eve we are told that: “The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye and that it was desirable for knowledge that it could give. She took some of the fruit and ate it.” This is the nature of the struggle we go through every day. This is the problem of sense perception which of course in the study of epistemology does not in any way lead to true knowledge. It is the problem of the Id and Ego that we try to satisfy every day. Many of us are so engrossed in our quest for knowledge to the extent that we are ready to violate nature in total disobedience to God. Many Christians today in search of knowledge and power have fallen prey to the devils gimmicks and lies. While looking for truth where it cannot be found, many of us have “perished because of lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4, 6) of the Truth which is Jesus Christ (Jh 14, 6), who God himself has revealed to us. In order not to fall like Adam and Eve to the falsehood of Satan, we must be mindful of the fact that “all that glitters are not gold.” We must discern that voice speaking to us now and today about what we must do, the place we must visit for solutions to our problems, the things we must do to acquire more power or fame in life.

In the second reading, Paul traces the origin of sin to “One Man – Adam”. Only God knows why it has to be Adam and not Eve who started it all. Perhaps, Paul took it for granted that Adam being God’s first human creature, the pioneer landlord of the Garden of Eden, “the stronger sex”, and of course, the husband of Eve, failed in his responsibility to protect both himself and his wife from the tempter, Satan. Of utmost importance here is that Paul highlights the very infectious and contagious nature of sin: “Sin” he says: “Entered the world through one man and through sin death…death spread through the human race because everyone has sinned.” This means that sin distorts the flow of life in the human person. It brings about fear, hopelessness and shame, as it did bring to our progenitors because, “righteousness exalts a nation but sin brings reproach” (Prov 14, 34). However, Paul leaves us with the hope of something more certain than even our own existence: “The Divine Grace that flows from Christ.” This means that Christ saves and acquits us. If we cling to him, we will find the strength and grace we need to overcome all forms of temptation to sin. Therefore, this season, as we share in Jesus’ wilderness experience we must seek, find, and cling to this amazing Grace that saves us.

The gospel presents to us exactly the ordeal we go through every day of our life. Of course, the devil being a “spirit” knows what our heart yearns for, and so, capitalizes on this to tempt us. For example, after fasting Jesus was hungry. So, he had to tempt Him with food. Again, Jesus always preached about the Kingdom and His reign in it. So, Satan had to tempt him with the kingdom of the world. Can you see that brethren? Just as Christ, we are every day tempted with these: what to eat and drink, glory that comes through lofty ambitions, and of course wealth and power. These are the things that our hearts yearn for in this mundane world, and definitely are the things through which most of us are trapped. It suffices to note that the devil tempts us with the things we are grossly in need of. It is like the case of someone who went to bed very hungry. It is highly probable that such a person will dream of eating a sumptuous meal in his sleep. There is a saying credited to a certain young man who lamented thus: “Each day I decide to move into the street to look for a wife, all the mad ladies are the only ones that come out that same day!” The great temptation behind this is that if he is not wise enough, all these mad and ugly ladies will “appear very beautiful and good” for marriage. Hence, if you are in need of money the devil tempts you to loot public fund or to rub others. If you are in need of a job, he tempts you to sleep with the recruiter or to offer a bribe. If you are in need of a contract, he tempts you to succumb to kick back, since you are not going to execute the project after all. If you are seeking admission or promotion, he tempts you to cheat in your exams in order to pass. If you are looking for a child, he tempts you to visit the next witch doctor because his/her deity will give you one since God is delaying, and if you are depressed, he tempts you to commit suicide because there is no more hope for you. When we yield to one of his temptations, he continues with the next until we finally perish. He is very subtle in his persuasions, and of course, an expert when it comes to “one step at a time!”

How was Jesus able to overcome Satan and his temptations? He overcame because beforehand he had already fortified himself. He imprisoned the desires of this world, chained and caged his appetite unlike Eve and Adam, and of course, bade farewell to ambitiousness and vainglory. Most importantly, he was not alone in his struggle against Satan and his temptations. He went into partnership with the Holy Spirit. The contract of this pact was sealed during his forty days and nights praying and fasting. Of course, the grace of God flowed for him, and all these put together provided Him with a formidable force against the tempter and his options. My dear friends, this season of Lent and beyond, we too must get ourselves prepared for the great journey ahead. This is because we are entangled in a perilous time and temptations must surely come our way in life especially, through the many lacks and needs we have in our time. If we do not share Jesus’ wilderness experience this season of Lent, we might be caught napping and be overtaken by the tempter. God forbid!

Peace be with you!

Maranatha!!