Homily for 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

Overcome that Obstacle, and Offer Yourself Wholly to The Lord!

Readings: 1st: Jer 20, 7-9; Ps 63; 2nd: Rom 12, 1-2; Gos: Mtt 16, 21-27

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). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Sancto, in Dorado, San Juan Puerto Rico, of the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

Today is the 22nd Sunday of Ordinary Time. As ever before, the holy mother church realizing the difficulties and obstacles we encounter daily in our efforts to respond fully and positively to the clarion call from God, encourages us to rise above both the internal and external obstacle, and reluctances in order to offer ourselves wholly to Christ who himself resisted all obstacles and reluctances in order to offer himself as a living, holy and fitting sacrifice in order that we might be salvaged from death unto life.
During a church service one Sunday, the offering plate came to Little Maria who was seated at the end of a row. She took the plate, put it down on the floor, and stood in it. The usher surprised over Maria’s action, asked her: “What are you doing?” Little Maria responded thus: “In Sunday school I learned that I was supposed to offer myself completely to God.” Does this mean anything to you? She has made her point and indeed has offered everything without thinking of the cost. Nothing could stop her, the congregation, the usher or even her own self pride and fear. She overcame all these “obstacles” in order to offer herself on the offertory plate. All the readings this Sunday including the psalm lead to one direction – the need to offer oneself to God in spite of both the external obstacles and even the internal resistances. Some of us like Jeremiah keep complaining (Jer 1, 4. 17), and like Peter, some of us present ourselves as “obstacles” and “wet blankets” on the part of others who are making frantic efforts to yield to God’s will.
In the first reading of this Sunday the lamentation of Jeremiah – the “weeping prophet” (9:1) was that of disappointment. He lamented: “Lord you have deceived me” or “seduced,” and “overpowered me” He was saying, “God, I didn’t sign on for this! You told me it would be tough, but you did not tell me that it was going to be this tough!” God why are you doing this to me? How on earth could you do this to me? What crime did I commit to deserve all this? The ordeal of the weeping prophet (Jer 9, 1), tells us that nothing can prevent the word of God from being proclaimed, not even our own reluctance or resistance. Though Jeremiah resisted, yet he submitted to God: “…and I have let myself be seduced”. He was no longer in charge of himself, rather, the word of God burns like fire in him. The double edged sword of the Spirit (Eph 6, 10; Heb 4, 12) has pierced his heart and left a great burden on him. The Jeremiah who was very timid and did not know how to speak (Jer 1, 4. 17) is now a hammer in God’s hand. There is much mystery in God! Sometimes we live under the assumption that if we do God’s will, we will be healthy, wealthy, and loved by all. But that’s not always true. Faithfulness to God at times brings sufferings, trials, disappointments, he allows us to experience horrific pains. However, in spite of all these, He blesses us and shields us.
In the second reading of today Paul employed the language of grace other than that of law and power to beg us to offer ourselves wholly to God. It suffices to take note of the adjectives he employed in describing the type of sacrifice we ought to be, and offer to the Lord. He enumerates them thus: “living bodies”, “holy sacrifice” and “truly pleasing”. This means that the sacrifice we must offer of ourselves to God must not be a dead one like the sacrifice of Cain (Gen 4, 1-4), it must not be the type that has been corrupted by the this mundane world and, it must be a sacrifice fitting for God. Offering ourselves to God as Paul puts it means a continuous exercise, every day and every time of our life. There is no extent to which we can say we have offered enough of ourselves to God. It is only when we have offered ourselves to God wholly that we can fully model our lives according to his pattern other than the pattern of this world. To present our bodies is to yield our faculties, our new life in Christ. “Yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Rom 6:13). The surrender of our will to Jesus is essential to a life of joy and victory. We are to hold nothing back, instead, we should simply say, “Jesus, I love you all I have is yours, do with me whatever you will.” Many of us hold back from surrendering all to Jesus because they fear that it will bring terrible consequences. Our actions seem to say: “I surrender some instead of, I surrender all to Jesus”. For us to yield wholly to Jesus, we must understand what the Will of God is. When we understand his will and yield to it, we become wonderful and amazing channels of God’s love, peace, charity, happiness and joy to those around us.
In the gospel of today, we see the irony of the human person playing out. The same Peter who proclaimed Christ as the Lord just last week is now been referred to as Satan. Why would Jesus speak to him so harshly, after extending the keys to the kingdom to Peter just a few verses before? The answer is quite simple! Peter does not yet understand that the mission of Jesus entails the act of the shepherd laying down and offering his life for his flock (John 10:11). Perhaps Peter’s thought was, why are you talking of dying when we have not fully conquered the Romans. I am disappointed in you! How can you speak that way, you are the Lord. We have not become governors, ministers, ambassadors in this new government you have formed, and I have not even enjoyed the benefits of the new position you just appointed me to. Peter must have been so disappointed that the “Lord and God” could utter such a word about himself.
Today “Peter and his advice” are the “obstacles” that Jesus had to overcome in order to offer himself wholly to God for our salvation. He therefore represents “sympathizers”. Usually, they do not mean “bad”, but they are very myopic and shallow in their thinking and views. They see only “the-now”, but do not project or interpolate into the future to understand that the action of today has both geometric and exponential effect on the future. The poor Peter did not realize the necessity of Christ’s death – that: “It was necessary for one man to die so the many will live”. He represents in this contest, the college of bad special advisers and ignorant counselors in our social, economic, political, religious institutions; families, marriages, relationships, career etcetera. It may interest one to know that many world and institutional leaders or presidents are good people with wonderful intent for their people and organizations respectively. However, it is unfortunate to note that only about two to three percent of their so called special advisers are good. The result is poor governance, and oppression. This is because, rather than offer advices that will benefit the masses, like Peter, they prefer to give the ones that will stagnate the progress of the nation for their selfish gains and intentions. What type of advice do we give, who do we take advice from, what motivates our advice – emotions or genuine intents? Furthermore, Peter today represents those of us carried away by zeal and flesh, and thus forget Paul’s advice that: “Whoever thinks he is standing should take care not to fall” (1Cor 10, 4). Records abound of great men and women of God, spiritual giants who turned puppet overnight because they lapsed for a moment.
Today, we see Jesus resisting Peter and his suggestions. He refused to be distracted, but remained committed to his agreement with the Father about offering himself as a living, Holy and fitting sacrifice for the salvation of his brothers and sisters. What lesson must we learn from Jesus today? We must not allow both internal and external obstacles and reluctances prevent us from offering ourselves wholly to God. Instead, we must continue to echo with the Psalmist: “O God, you are my God, for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you like a dry weary land without water!”
Peace be with you all!!
Maranatha!!

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Homily for 21st Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

Who is this Almighty, Awesome, and Wise Lord To Me?
Readings: 1st: Ish 22, 19-23; Ps 137, 1-3.6. 8; 2nd: Rom 11, 33-36; Gos: Mtt 16, 13-20

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). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Sancto, in Dorado, San Juan Puerto Rico, of the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

“How rich are the depths of God – how deep his wisdom and knowledge…To him be all the glory. Amen!” It is on the note of this amazing and beautiful outburst of joy from our second reading today that we begin our reflection on this 21st Sunday of ordinary time. In a special way the church enjoins us to recognize, reverence with “sacred awe”, praise, and glorify the Sovereign, the All Powerful and Wise Lord. It is only when we know him (as much as he chooses to reveal himself to us though), that we can respect his ordinances, appreciate his greatness, burst out in amazement and declare to others who he really is as Paul and Peter did today.
A young girl was asked: “Who is your father, and how would you describe him?” She was quiet for a couple of seconds as if he was lost in wondering contemplation. Eventually, she mustered enough courage and responded thus: “My Father?” She retorted. “He is that man who leaves home before I wake up in the morning; that man who comes back home when I am already asleep, at times with some bars of chocolate, ice cream, cake, peanuts, and fried potato chips; that man who punches mummy in the face whenever he returns home drunk and, he is that man who never cares or gives me a hug.” Tears rolled down her cheeks as she concludes: “That is my father, but how I wish I never knew him” Finally, she burst out crying. Is this little girl wrong or to blame? Not at all! This is the picture of her dad she has, and in her innocence, she has painted it and thus, expressed her emotions. Like this little girl (who was right in her case), some of us have a very pejorative view of God, some wrong notion of what he stands for and can do, yet others are indifferent in their opinion about who Jesus is to them. Who is Jesus to you?
In the first reading of today, God exhibits his power over all sovereignty, throne and kingdom. In his wise judgment, he reduces the proud and wicked hearted while exalting the lowly and faithful. While Shebna was dethroned because of his pride, wickedness and lack of obedience to the ordinances of the Almighty God, the humble Eliakim was elevated to the throne. In this, Eliakim becomes a prophecy of the Messiah, because Jesus told us this passage spoke of Himself: “These things says He who is holy, He who is true, He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.” (Rev 3:7). Jesus is the one with the keys of Hades and of Death (Rev1:8), and he is the one who has all authority both in heaven and on earth. Jesus delegates this authority to anyone that pleases him, and as it pleases Him, just as he did to Peter today in our gospel reading (Matt 16:19).
In the second reading, we see Paul this Sunday bursting out in jubilant excitement and exaltation over the wisdom of God. Like a mountaineer who has reached the apex of Kilimanjaro, the apostle turns and contemplates. Depths are at his feet, but waves of light illumine them, and there spreads all around him an immense horizon which his eye commands. The plan of God in the government of mankind spreads out before Paul, and he expresses the feelings of admiration and gratitude with which the prospect fills his heart. Today therefore, Paul not only presents to us the greatness of the wisdom of God, but also His sovereignty over all creation. The Lord’s plans are as marvelous as his wisdom, acts and justice; his designs are as profound as his doings are vast. Creation is immeasurable, and the wisdom displayed in it unsearchable. God alone possesses wisdom in the absolute sense: “…For with Him are wisdom and might. To Him belong counsel and understanding.” (Job 12:13). Paul presents to us the Creator not created by any one, the Counselor not counseled by any one, and the one whose ways, methods and designs are obviously different from ours. Of course, when we realize this we cannot but like Paul burst out in jubilant praise: “How rich are the depths of God – how deep his wisdom and knowledge…” and “How great is your name O, Lord our God, through all the earth…” (Ps 8, 1). How do I see God, and how great is my God, is a pertinent question we must ask ourselves today! For us to realize how great he is, we must seek him sincerely. As humans, we cannot fathom his greatness, but he reveals himself to those who seek him in truth and honesty. He has done this in, and through Jesus Christ, but only those who humbly allow the eyes of their mind to be illumined by the Holy Spirit will see and know him.
For lack of space and time, it suffices only, to take note of the importance of today’s gospel to the Apostolic Succession and the Papacy of the Holy, One and Catholic Church. So, we leave it for the solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul or the feast of the Chair of St. Peter. In this gospel, Jesus fully aware of the on-going debate about him and the ignorance of the people about his personality, decided to also know the mind of those close to him – His disciples: “Who do people say I am…and…You, who do you say I am?” We must not distance ourselves from this question today. Rather, we must ask ourselves: “Who is Jesus to me? This is because, it is possible that we have been baptized, received Holy Communion, got married in the church, ordained as a pastor or minister, served, and in fact still serving in the church in different capacities and yet do not know who Jesus is. I am not kidding you brethren! A very sincere and humble priest once confessed that he never had an encounter with Jesus Christ until after seven years of his ordination. Many of us have a distorted view of God, views of God that are distorted because of our background, experiences or perhaps just simply because of our ignorance. So, we do not realize that we are actually worshiping the greatest Deity. Much of our lives and much of our time is spent worshiping a figment of our own imaginations and so, what we fail to realize is that God exists independently of our views of him. God exists as he is regardless of our woeful and inadequate views of him. Our goal as Christians should be to bring our understanding of God in line with the truth of who He really is.
My dear, you cannot answer this question of your own accord. Therefore, like Peter and Paul, we must seek the counsel of the wise God. We must ask the Holy Spirit to help us and, we must ask God himself to reveal his son to us as he did to Peter today, else we will continue to have very wrong and distorted opinions about Jesus Christ as the Jews had: “…Some say he is John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah…” Who do I say Jesus is? May be, he is the “universal” or “cosmic policeman” standing around every corner just waiting for us to break the law so that he can punish or trash us; the “indulgent old man” who is a little senile but very friendly; the “shrewd” or “frantic manager” sweating profusely because the world is such a mess and he is trying to hold it all together, or the “workaholic father” trying to meet the needs of his family, the miracle worker, the healer, the problem solver, the defender, the rock of ages etcetera. Indeed, he all of these and even more than these, but only God in his great wisdom can make him fully known to us if we humble ourselves. Peter got the answer not just by his own power, but by the grace of God. It was a gift offered to him by God in order to prepare him for more blessings and the exalted position from the Son himself. He is blessed and happy today because he knew who Jesus is. In order to be blessed and be exalted like Peter, we must first of all declare: “You are the Christ, the son of the living God!” And, “How rich are the depths of God – how deep his wisdom and knowledge…To him be all the glory. Amen!”
Peace be with you all!!
Maranatha!!!

Homily for 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

God’s Invitation And Mercy, Without Boarders!
Readings: 1st: Ish 53, 1. 6-7; Ps 66, 2-3. 5-6; 2nd: Rom 11, 13-15. 29-32; Gos: Mtt 15, 21-28

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). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Sancto, in Dorado, San Juan Puerto Rico, of the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

Today the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Church draws our attention to God’s invitation and mercy to entire humanity, which is definitely without borders. It suffices to note beforehand that this does not mean “Universal Salvation”, least one slips fast into the heresy of “Universalism.” “Invitation and mercy without boarders” simply means that each and every one of us (without exception) has equal opportunity of the mercy of God if we respond accordingly to His invitation. Therefore, the church through all the readings of this Sunday presents to us a God whose invitation and mercy is not the sole or exclusive right of any individual or group; a God whose invitation to mercy reads: “It is for all” – Christians, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, Pagans, Atheists, Blacks, Whites etcetera; and a God whose mercy like water does not discriminate or have enemies.
While reflecting on today’s readings, I recalled an old TV commercial. In it, people were walking along a busy and broad street with different sizes and shapes of umbrella in anticipation of imminent rain. Eventually, there came a powerful wind and down pour, too powerful for small and weak umbrellas. But only one man had a very big umbrella, the size of a room. With a wave of hand he invited all others whose umbrellas had succumbed to the power of the wind and down pour. In a fraction of minute, many threw away their umbrellas and took shelter in the man’s. Also, another ad from a particular political party reads: “Our Umbrella is big enough to contain all of us, there is room for you in here, come in right away!” Indeed, the invitation and mercy of God is large and strong enough to restore all of us, but it is for only those who are ready to throw away their, small and weak umbrellas (that is their pride, shame, and disobedience), in order to come to Him. Are you ready?
In the first reading, Isaiah makes the mind of God known. In addition to the “faithful Israelites”, “foreigners who have attached themselves to the Lord to serve him and to love his name…these will I bring to my holy mountain.” I will make them joyful in my house of prayer.” In this, God is fostering the “ecumenical spirit” which has to begin with praying together. Imagine a prayer house made up of Christians, Moslems, Hindus, Buddhists, Atheists, Traditional religionist, Pagans, Israel and Hamas, America and Al Qaeda, Churchill and Hitler, Nigeria and Boko Haram, Iraq and ISIS, and lots more praying together to God. For us it seems difficult, but with God, it is not because, he designs and controls all of history. So, when we put this reading into both historical and political perspective, we simply encounter the truth that God designs and controls all history in order to display the glory of his mercy to all of us. However, the only condition he requires is that we must attach ourselves to Him, serve him and love him.
In the second reading, Paul also strikes on the same note as did Isaiah. In this reading it suffices to note that when Paul says: “Mercy to all”, he is not saying that God will save everyone, rather, that His mercy is available to all those who will respond accordingly to his invitation. This is the reason he tells us: “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling!” (Phil 2, 12). God has played his part by extending his invitation to all and making His mercy available in abundance. We must play our own part by responding accordingly to his invitations. If we do we “pluck” his mercy. We must not forget the truth that the “Jews” are the beloved of God. He is sovereign in their salvation and it is not because of any merit passed on from the patriarchs, but because God chose Israel and that choice was, and forever will be irrevocable. The gentiles are also favored and considered worthy of the good news. When Paul says: “From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, he means that because God hardened the Jews, the gospel has now gone out to the Gentiles (Rom 11:11-12, 15. 28). Irrespective of the reason, the fact is that God has made them a promise also. He has counted us among those worthy to take refuge under his umbrella, and as potential candidates for salvation. And this promise stands because: “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do it…?” (Nub 23:19; Mal 3:6). The lesson from this is that when one person or a people become disobedient and rejects God, it becomes an advantage to others. In spite of Israel’s rejection of God, it has not made God change his mind towards loving them. Right now the good news is that the same mercy flows for all of us, and we are all potential recipients of God’s mercy in this period as the gospel go out to the nations.
Today, Jesus’ journey to the territory of Tyre and Sidon is amazing and fascinating, but it leaves much to be desired in the light of His former instructions to His disciples: “Do not go to Gentile regions…Go instead to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5-8). So, what did he go there to do himself? One could possibly say there was a paradigm shift in Jesus’ view of the gentiles. Today’s gospel goes further to illustrate the universality of God’s mercy. However, that Jesus was initially hesitant to listen to the woman perhaps must have been a tactical way of testing her faith. In order words, in spite of the fact that God is ready to show us mercy unequivocally, he requires something from us. Something Jesus himself described as: “a faith as small as the mustard seed” (Mtt 17, 20). I am sure the faith demonstrated by this woman surpassed the expectation of Jesus. Let us tell ourselves the truth here. Who among us would be called a: “Nigger”, “White Monkey”, “Black Monkey”, “Gringo”, “Bushman”, “Americow”, “Sand Monkey”, “Abo” or “Brit” that will not angrily and quickly leave the scene. But this woman endured this derogatory calling of name and persisted in her plea to Jesus for mercy. Far from being offended by Jesus, instead, she was inspired by Him to ask for what she desired. For this, Jesus commended her faith in a way that no Jew was ever commended. The lesson this woman teaches us is simple! Though God may test us in seemingly strange and unpredictable ways, he will not turn away from his promises to help those who call on him in their time of need. And he will never turn his back on true faith. This is the type of faith that our first reading refers to when it says: “Foreigners who have attached themselves to the Lord to love and serve him.” Jesus found that faith in this woman after making her pass through the “acid test”. Like this woman, each and every one of us in a certain way is in need of God’s mercy. Somehow we have been disobedient and so, as Paul recounts in our second reading: “God has imprisoned all men in their own disobedience only to show mercy to all mankind.”
My dear friends, one of the greatest requirements in order to respond accordingly to the universal invitation of God and to share in his mercy is faith in his son Jesus Christ. Today, Jesus is close to us. Are we going to let him pass us by without insisting on having his mercy? We must take our opportunity, grab his clock right now, kneel down, cry if you will, shout until he hears you, and shut your ears to all the insults, discard your small and weak umbrella, and insist on entering into Jesus’ large umbrella of mercy. Does our Lord give you humiliations to bear? Perhaps it seems that he rejects your prayers! When he humiliates you, remember and imitate the example of this “Canaanite dog”. Say to him now: “Lord Jesus, I will never let you go unless you bless and show me your mercy” (Gen 32, 22). When you feel the burden lifted off your shoulders then join the Psalmist in saying: “Let all the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you…because your faithfulness, love, and mercy endures forever!” (Ps 66, 4; 100, 5).
Peace be with you all!!
Maranatha!!!

Homily for 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

Jesus Our Lord And Saviour Is Our Peace!
Readings: 1st: I Kg 19, 9. 11-13; Ps 84, 9-14; 2nd: Rom 9, 1-5; Gos: Mtt 14, 22-33

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). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Sancto, in Dorado, San Juan Puerto Rico, of the Spiritan International Group of the Republica Dominicana-Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

“Storms” are part and parcel of our human existence. They are inevitable in this world, just as the waves are inevitable in the oceans and death is inevitable to humankind. Sometimes, they hit us so hard that we are crushed, devastated, and almost annihilated. Yet, in spite of this, we still see ourselves going on. Who is responsible for this “going on”? The Church on this 18th Sunday of ordinary time joyfully reminds us that even though storms are inevitable and bring us anguish, Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour is always close to us calming the storms of our life and restoring our peace.
The Readings of this Sunday have a lot to teach us and they offer me personally a golden opportunity to share this great testimony with you. Just a couple of days after my arrival in the “Isla del enchante” (Island of enchantment) – Puerto Rico (The Rich Port), the news and warning was all over the air that the storm was imminent. This news so terrified people that a day before the storm was to hit the island, many families went shopping. On the D-day almost all the streets were deserted for fear of being hit by the storm. Every one took precaution because, “to-before-warned is to- before-armed.” However, the good news is, thank God, the storm never came in spite of the fears and worries that enshroud the island. Jesus heard our prayers and took the storm away without us knowing it. He proved to be stronger than the storm that terrified us, Alleluia! The imminence, sight, and presence of the storm and all that it represents definitely bring us confusion and deprive us of peace. It leaves us confused in life. Often times it’s so devastating that one may not be able to sail through it except by the grace of God.
In the first reading, the scared and embattled prophet Elijah found God, who quelled the storm of his life and restored his peace. Elijah taught he was all alone in his storm of life, but God said to him: “My dear you are not and will never walk alone because I am here to restore your peace!” When we are calm internally, and when we move our hearts away from the internal storms and noise, especially the “noise of biology and chemistry,” that rage within us then, we will hear God speak to us about things we know nothing about, things that will restore our peace and tranquility of mind. In saying that God eventually spoke to Elijah after the gentle breeze is simply to say that, it was at the point in time when Elijah had fully recollected himself, calmed down, and retracted from the internal fear and storm that enveloped him. Often times, we seek God with a chaotic mind, and in an environment so full of distraction. In these, we definitely cannot hear the voice of God. But, when we are fully recollected, we hear him speak to us.
In the second reading, Paul expresses the grief or storm that he bears in his heart for his people. He had his people so much on his mind because they have rejected the very Christ who offered them the salvation and peace that is so wonderful. Through this reading, Paul reveals to us one of the greatest secret through which we can attain inner peace. What is it? It is our readiness and the altruistic way of life which enables one to empty oneself wholly for others. This fills one with peace! Paul says of himself today: “I will willingly be condemned if it could help my brothers.” In order words, he feels greatly the need for his brethren to be saved just as he himself has been saved. His peace is therefore not complete safe he has helped in achieving that of his brethren. Paul teaches us therefore, that we must not only think about ourselves, but also, about the good and well being of others. It is through it that we derive our own inner peace and experience the complete divine presence and dialogue with God. When others are not safe, and saved there is chaos around us, and we are not safe too because our peace is disturbed. Therefore, just as persecution helped Elijah find the God of peace, we must help our brethrens find lasting peace in Jesus Christ the prince of peace.
In today’s gospel the earlier disciples of Jesus experienced the storm of their life and Jesus was readily at hand to calm their storm. Like these earlier disciples of Jesus, each one of us has experienced the storm in diverse ways in our life. Some are facing it right now even as I am penning down this homily. The storm represents our sicknesses, family problems, shaky marriages, stubborn children, many struggle of life, lack of inner peace, barrenness of all sorts, joblessness, dwindling finance, poverty, dejection, lack of love, castigations, abuse, discriminations against us, bad habits, struggle with sin, lack of moral, spiritual and psychological courage, and on and on the list continues unending. The sea is our world. Whenever these and lots more are in, or surround us, the boats of our lives begin to experience turbulence, and consequently stagger. If we do not have any one or better still, if we are “ignorant like Elijah”, that there is a friend like Jesus who can help us out, we might crash out. God forbid, because Jesus our peace is always there for us! What storm are you contending with? Has it taken your peace away, and left you desolate? My dear, there is hope because Jesus our peace is very close to you right now calming that storm! Today, these burdens will encounter Christ because he has stepped into the sea and situation of your life in order to restore your shattered peace. As to his earlier disciples, he says to us today: “Courage! Do not be afraid, it is I”, the Lord, and the Prince of Peace who is stepping into the sea of your life! Once again as ever before, he says: “Caste all your burden on me because I care…” (1 Pt 5, 7)! What else do we need brethren?
In conclusion, like Elijah we must make ourselves available, be where God wants us to be for the divine dialogue, encounter and manifestation of his power and peace. Again, it is necessary that we must always have a meeting point with God, and also know what moments and place he waits for us. Because he never comes late or misses appointments, he will always wait for us there. Do you have a meeting place with God and Jesus? Where is it? That place should be your heart and your conscience – your innermost sanctuary, where God is supposed to dwell. It has to be prepared and kept ready at all times for the divine presence. We must rid this divine meeting place of noise, worries, anger, revenge, lies, cheating, backbiting, greed, chaos, fear, and in fact all that Jesus tells us defile a man (Mk 7, 15-16). Also, we must be patient by not looking for, or expecting to find God (in the mighty winds, earthquakes, or fire) where he is not to be found, but in the solitude of our heart and quiet time of our life. Second, like the disciples, we must learn to trust Jesus when he says to us: “COURAGE, DO NOT BE AFRAID, IT IS I”, because, he is willing and able to sustain us and quieten the storm of our life. We must like Peter, who walked on the sea with Christ step out with boldness against the storms of our life. But unlike “the sinking Peter”, we must not allow our faith in Jesus Christ to drop even by an inch. Instead, we must hold on firmly to Jesus who is ready to lead us kindly and gently amidst the raging storm of our life. Jesus is our peace. In him we must live, move and have our being (Acts 17, 28). He is the voice that speaks for and of peace. Let us humbly say with the Psalmist today: “O Lord, let us see your mercy and give us your saving help!”
Peace be with you all!!
Maranatha!!!