THE THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT
"As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus' thirst...He knows your weakness.
One of the realities in life is that no one is without a challenge. Individuals have a challenge, families have a challenge and ultimately, every society has one. Now our challenge in the globe is the notorious novel coronavirus named COVID-19.
The rate at which it is spreading to infect people and taking innocent lives is becoming alarming, creating fear and panic in our world today. But in the midst of devastating circumstances where do we go?
It is almost coincidental that our first reading has a similar situation where the Israelites found themselves in stressful and frustrating circumstances as they were without water to drink and to give to the flocks. Moses led them to cry unto the Lord for answers to their issues.
Indeed, as usual, God did not fail them, but gave them solution to their predicament by asking Moses to strike the rock with his staff. Water flowed to give them refreshment and to restore their peace and happiness to continue their journey.
Beloved family of God, in the wake of this pandemic, which is the enemy of humanity, we need to go down to our knees to employ every available tool of prayer to cry unto the Lord for a cure, healing, divine protection and deliverance. There is nothing impossible with God. He will not fail us. We need faith, trust and hope.
Our Psalmist says, “Come, let us bow low and do reverence; kneel before Yahweh who made us!”- Psalm 95:6
Paul, in the second reading, insists on faith and hope. He echoes, ”Hope does not disappoint.” - Roman 5:5. Hoping against hope that God will hear our cry and save us from this dreadful disease, let us remain resilient and unrelenting in our spiritual approach to this battle with coronavirus as we take every precautionary measure as well.
In the gospel reading, Jesus was in an interaction with a Samaritan woman which seemed to be awkward. Samaritans and Jews had barriers, boundaries and ”no trespassing” amongst them. This is because the former don’t believe in angels, spirits and resurrection as against the faith principles of the latter.
But the irony of this is that they have the same ancestors (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and one God. Jesus Christ breaks and removes those barriers, boarders and “no trespassing” to bring fraternity and unity amongst them. This enkindled and renewed the fire of faith in them.
In the insurgence of this coronavirus pandemic there are barriers, boundaries and “no trespassing” created: since almost all social and religious events have to be suspended and cancelled. We are restricted from greeting and hugging even our dear ones. The consequential effect is creating fear and panic in people; as well as breaking family and relationship ties all over.
But Sisters and Brothers in Christ, I think Jesus is the only one who can break all of these and bring us together as one. So be inspired to understand the acronym COVID-19 as Christ Over Virus, Infections and Death. Remember, Joshua 1:9, “I command you: be strong and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.”
Do Not Be Afraid! Just take PRECAUTIONS and PRAY!!
You are still in my prayers as I say private Holy Masses... Be each other’s keeper. I love you all!
THE SECOND SUNDAY OF LENT
"Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life
Life comes with changes and transformations. In the season of lent, we are invited to confront certain things that need to be changed or transformed in our life. But it is one of the most difficult decisions to make in life when we have become very comfortable with it: good or bad. With the leap of faith and unrelenting trust in God it is possible to be transformed. Just take a determined step!
Abram, in the first reading had to take the hardest decision in life by moving from his comfort zone (his native land) to an unknown place. Because he trusted and had faith in God he obeyed His instruction, hoping in His promises even though he wasn't sure and certain of the future. This was a massive transformation of his entire life.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, like Abram, God is calling you to make a decision and maybe a resolution in your life. There are certain behaviors, attitudes, characters, perceptions, etc. that are hindering your faith as a Christian; you need a transformation for the better.
In our case, we are always looking for assurances, better options available, certainties in life. Indeed, Christianity is not about doing what pleases you, but rather doing the will of God in your life. This is what made Abraham great... Think about this... Your life must be transformed!
As we allow transformation to take place in our lives, Apostle Paul admonishes us in the second reading to bear our hardship for the sake of the gospel. We are not to trust in our own merits but on the grace of God, hoping in the immortality and the Resurrection of Christ. We must be thankful to God for calling us to holiness.
Jesus is transfigured in the gospel to strengthen our hopes that if we rely on God the Father and do his will God will give a testimony of His approval and love for us.
In this Lenten season make a decision and resolutions in your life. Be determined to become a better version of yourself as a Christian. Remember God has a plan for you. Open up to than plan! Meditate and reflect. Just pay attention and listen!
Jesus is calling you to offer your TIME, TALENT AND TREASURE to build our parishes. Please take Time and Talent sheet and see where you fit.
”It takes volunteering to make our parish what it is.”
- Mike Baier
Think about this.
Love you. See you in Church.
THE FIRST SUNDAY OF LENT
“God never tires of forgiving us; we are the ones who tire of seeking his mercy.”
As we celebrated Ash Wednesday, the ashes reminded us that we are dust and unto dust we shall return. This encouraged us to humbly make contrition of our sins and hurriedly seek for God’s mercy and forgiveness.
But sin, in our 21st century contemporary society, has been denied, camouflaged, psychoanalyzed and repressed; giving a justification to accepting it and not to confess it. The usual misleading perception is, “We don’t really sin...we rather make mistakes in judgment.” I think this is a temptation of hypnosis!
To take such scales from our eyes, the Lenten season offers us the golden opportunity to look at such temptations, sin and the consequences. During this period, we are challenged to die to sin so that we may rise again to new life in Christ. It gives us a time that reminds us of the human journey of fall and redemption. In Lent we reflect on themes like temptation, sin, guilt and forgiveness.
The first reading highlights ”Original Temptation,” symbolized by the eating of the forbidden fruit. This story of the first sin committed by Adam and Eve focuses on the choice God gave them. The fundamental choice was to live for God, to be dependent upon and obedient to His will. Their faithlessness led them to sin.
Beloved in Christ, temptations are part of our condition as human beings. It is a temptation when we attempt to serve our inordinate desires from within ourselves. There are also temptations posed by the world and the people around us. In all of these, there is a choice to make. As Christians, we need to rely on the faithful word of God. Although we are tempted and often succumb, God’s grace provides the way of salvation for us.
Paul, in the second reading, admonishes that sin is never a private affair affecting only you. When we sin all our relationships are affected: our inner self, God, family and friends, nature and the world we live in. He compares human sin and it's consequences to Christ's salvific action and it's restorative effects on humankind. Though we sin, we still enjoy the rehabilitation of the grace of God as we open up to Him.
So the Psalmist presents our acknowledgement of our guilt before God, ”Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.” - Psalm 51
The Gospel reading teaches us about the ”desert experience” of fasting, praying and soul-strengthening as a spiritual journey that enabled Jesus to confront temptation successfully and to preach the good news.
As Christians, to overcome our temptations, we need to confront our evil tendencies with prayer (regularly going for Holy Mass). You have to seek reconciliation and do your penance frequently. Develop a habitual meditative attitude of reading the Word of God. Learn to share what you have with others. Grow in holiness in prayer, offer humble service, give alms and help those in need.
Remember, God has not given up on you yet. He is still working and walking with you. You are never alone. Christ Offers Forgiveness For Everyone Everywhere (COFFEE). Think about this!
Whooo Hooo! Winter is gradually ending. Are you ready for the Spring?
See you in church. Love you.
THE SEVENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
“Sanctify yourself and you will Sanctify Society.”
As society advances and grows rapidly with science and technology, our modern-day approach to religious values seems to be treated with disdain.
Holiness is perceived as something belonging to our ancestors in the ancient days. Vengeance, revenge, unforgiving character, lack of reverence to the Sacred, bearing hatred, holding grudges against others, etc. have become almost our everyday life situation.
People just don't care about the need to be holy. After all, they claim it's their right to do what they think they do! But is that the will of God for creating us as His image and likeness? Certainly, no!
In our first reading, God made it emphatically clear that, ”Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy... You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Lev. 19:2, 18) This reminds us of the basis of our Christian morality and the Divine nature of God; which is His unconditional and magnanimous love, care, concern, mercy and forgiveness.
As His chosen ones, it is incumbent upon us to be the physical embodiment of His holiness in families, workplaces, relationships, communities, etc by foregoing revenge, holding no grudges and bearing no hatred. Indeed, the basic foundation of our vocation as Christians lies in loving your neighbor as you love yourself.
The Apostle Paul continues the narrative on how to be holy by encouraging us to keep our bodies holy, because they are the temples of the Holy Spirit. By this, we become the dwelling sanctuaries of God Himself; we, therefore, become the visible image of the invisible God. From the heart comes all sullied desires and from the mind comes all evil impressions. These defile the body. Pay attention and remain focused.
Being holy, you lead people to witness and feel the presence of God in you. Living a holy life becomes a must - not an option - as a Christian. Just decide to be. This is what the saints did. You are not far from it. May the Lord make His grace just enough for you!
Lastly, Jesus in the gospel reading leads us to the practical means of proving our holiness in life circumstances. He insisted we forgive any insult or action, instead of fighting for privileges and positions we should rather show more sense of responsibility and a greater sense of duty and to love our enemies.
The call to holiness comes with total commitment and with unrelenting faith. As Christians, remember this, "by their fruits we shall know them..." If people trust you and know you better, look like your master.
May God increase our faith.
Stay warm and stay safe on the road. See you in church. Love you.
THE SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
"Life is about choices. Some we regret, Some we are proud of. Some will haunt us forever.
The liberty or the freedom to decide and to make choices is one of the inalienable rights for every human being. Even though God created us but out of His benevolence He gave us the free-will to make decisions and choices on our own accord.
This free-will is the power and authority He has endowed us with so that He does not control us like a robot. But have we used this free-will to make the right choices and decisions? Our world today is suffering because human beings have made wrongful choices: the consequences of which seem to be a scare-crow robbing us of our peace and happiness.
In the first reading, the Jews had problems in their society because they deviated from the path of Yahweh, so God spoke to them to make the right choices out of the options given to them. In effect, He reminded them that obedience to His commandments and laws was a solid foundation for making the right choices.
Beloved ones in Christ, even though we have our own free-will and the right to decide and choose, we should always choose that which corresponds to the will of God. This will guarantee peace and joy in our lives.
Paul, in the second reading, makes it emphatically clear that human wisdom is incomparable to the Divine wisdom. So to succeed in our choices and decision making, we need and should rely upon the wisdom of God. It is a key to open the treasures of life to us.
The Psalmist says, ”Give me discernment that I may observe your law and keep it with all my heart... Blessed are they who follow the law of the Lord.” Psalm 119:1, 34.
In the gospel reading, Jesus Christ condemns certain bad choices and decisions of human beings like anger, giving false oath or swearing, adultery and disobedience to the law of the Lord. These are enemies to our progress and advancement. Instead, He encourages us to go for righteousness and wisdom.
Indeed, as Christians, we need to pay attention to our choices and decisions. Never depend on your human wisdom and competence, but rely on God for everything you do.
May God keep you safe under His watchful care so that you do not regret your choices!
Are you enjoying the snow and the sun? I drove on a snowmobile. It was fun!
Love you. See you in Church.
Fr. Emmanuel hails from Ghana and is passionate about the Gospel and bringing the love of Christ to all people. He speaks several languages, enjoys soccer and cooking, and loves St. Francis of Assisi.
liturgy & sacraments