Sunday, September 1, 2019
This week, St. Augustine admonishes that, ”If you should ask me what are the ways of God, I would tell you that the first is humility, the second is humility, and the third is humility. Not that there are no other precepts to give, but if humility does not precede all that we do, our efforts are fruitless.”
Ethical and moral principles, like humility, sanctioned by Divine authority have been misconstrued as interfering with personal (human) rights and freedom.
Mistakenly, our modern world has brainwashed us into believing that being proud, arrogant, disrespecting, self exaltative, assertive, and imposing means you are exercising your inalienable human rights and liberty. But it is not true. This is just a charade! Rather, the consequential effect include loneliness, unnecessary justification of wrongs; which not only endanger personal relationships but also breakdown of societal fraternity and bond.
It pays to be humble. No man is an Island. As humans we live in chains and no one can absolutely claim to be independent of the other. Humility is a bridge that connect us.
Being humble does not suggest cowardice, bashfulness, timidity, hypocrisy or weakness but dignifying our humanness and glorifying God.
The author (Bin Sira) of our first reading makes a clarion call that, ”My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts. Humble yourself the more, the greater you are, and you will find favor with God.” (Sir 3:17-18)
As a Christian, you must understand that humility is what you need as a proof of your faith. As a virtue it manifests your dispositions in life. It reveals your real identity and your purpose in life. It is an obligation. This is what the saints did. It’s your turn, make it your goal. Just be humble!
Jesus Christ, in the gospel reading, teaches us how to practically be humble. Do not seek for prominence in public, lest you embarrass yourself. He cautioned, ”for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Lk 14:11) Also, treat the poor, the sick and the unfortunate ones in the society with respect and honor.
There is always a reward for your humility. Humility makes you the real you. May your sense of humility give you every good gift from the Lord, put into your heart the love of His name. By deepening your sense of reverence, and by His watchful care, May the Lord keep you safe in whatever He has nurtured in you. Amen.
May your week be a wonderful one!!
We welcome our students back to school. I am excited; hope you are also super excited! Let's meet at church.
Sunday, August 25, 2019
St. Augustine of Hippo, once more reiterates, ”Let us understand that God is a physician and that suffering is a medicine for salvation, not punishment for damnation.”
Indeed, everyone desires salvation. But is salvation achieved on a silver platter? No. No pain, no gain! The fact that we are Christians does not automatically guarantee that everyone will be saved. Your salvation is in your own hands in as much as your free will is. Work at your salvation by co-operating with God through his son Jesus Christ.
Therefore, Isaiah in the first reading seeks to remove the misconceptions about salvation among the Jews, who believed that salvation was only for themselves and that no Gentile (non-Jew) would be saved. This had created confusions in the minds of the returnees from the Babylonian exile (538 B.C.). His words were to instill hope and bolster their faith especially when they saw the state of Jerusalem.
As a prophet, his consolatory message was to insist on the fact that the salvation of men is the sole prerogative of God and that salvation is universal for all men. God does not discriminate in saving men. Actually, the Divine goal is that all men must be saved. So no one can claim monopoly over salvation. No one can judge another. The Lord says, ”I am coming to gather every nation and every language. They will come to witness my glory.” (Isaiah 66:18). Are you ready?
Hence, the author of our second reading gives us the clue to gain our goal of being saved. His scenario of the father-son-discipline-training should be captured in our experience of the pains and sufferings we encounter as Christians.
Unfortunately, some people naively perceive Christianity as the easiest vocation on earth. The truth is far from this. No true and faithful Christian can claim that everything has been all rosy, comfortable, convenient and palatable. We sometimes complain, doubt, distrust, compromise, etc., just because maybe the suffering is too much for us to bear.
But for the sake of our salvation we must see them (sufferings) as part of the Divine discipline. ”For the Lord trains those he loves, and chastises every son he accepts...perseverance is part...” (Hebrews 12:6-7). Expect and be ready to face hardships and adversities if you want to be saved.
Jesus Christ, in the gospel reading, does not mince words by setting the records straight. He insists, ”try your hardest to enter by the narrow door...” (Luke 13:24). As Christians we need to exercise self-restraint and mortification by respecting and keeping his commandments. Acquaintance with Christ is not enough to be saved, but rather our deepest love and loyalty to him.
Finally, my dear family of God, know that Salvation is a choice. It is a decision. It is indispensably dependent on your faith. So collaborate with God to be saved with your constant fidelity and vigilance throughout your life. Love what the Lord commands and desire what He promises. In the midst of the uncertainties of this world, may your heart be fixed on that place where gladness is found; eternal glory-Heaven.
Hope to see you at the Lima Fall Festival. Enjoy the POPPYSEED ROLLS...it must be delicious! Have a blissful weekend. Thanks.
Sunday, August 4, 2019
Woo-hoo!! Our annual Fall Festivals are fast approaching. Plans and preparations are quickly advancing to make them fantastic ones! Thanks to our indefatigable committee members. I believe you are planning and preparing yourself to be part of these celebrations. I will be there, too. Let’s meet to celebrate our festival in grand style. ”How good, how delightful it is to live as brothers and sisters all together!” (Ps 133:1)
Once again, St. Augustine of Hippo stated, ”at the time of creation God created us without our concern but at the time of salvation God will demand our consent.”
Life presents options in the midst of challenges and situations beyond our control. Our choices display the intent of the use of our free will. But as Christians, trusting faith in God’s promises is a necessity in dealing with circumstances that confront us. Hence, fidelity in doing God’s will is indispensable in sustaining our hopes in life. After all, we must be vigilant in preparing ourselves for the eternal reward awaiting us. Salvation is the goal of our vocation: but our willful fidelity to God will facilitate the realization of this goal.
The author of our first reading recounts to us how the ancient Hebrew slaves kept on hoping against hope that God was going to change their story by delivering and liberating them from the hands of the wicked Egyptians. Indeed, the Lord showed His mighty power to save His chosen ones from their cruel enemies. Nonetheless, this came about because they had ”sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith.”
Beloved one's in Christ, their expectant hope encouraged them to obediently submit to doing the will of the Lord but not their personal will. No matter what the uncertainty of life presents to us, and regardless of the options offered us, let's not relegate the will of God in our lives. We are chosen people of faith; the display of our trusting faith in God irrespective of our life story will bolster our hopes. With God there is nothing impossible, nothing too late, nothing hopeless... Your faith will change your life story! That's why the Psalmist exhorts, ”May your kindness be upon us who have put our hopes in you.” (Ps 33:22)
Again, the author of our second reading deepens the dynamics of faith and it's significance in our Christian life by using Abraham as model in faith. He totally relied upon and depended on God with no iota of doubt. For his committed fidelity and devoted hopes,the Lord rewarded him. ”Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1) This is what the Saints did; it's your turn!
Jesus Christ, in the gospel reading, paradoxically presents to us His eschatological (end time) teachings with particular emphasis on His parousia (second coming). Death is a constant reality among the last things on earth. His second coming and the death of man remains a mystery. So we must be consciously watchful and be vigilantly prepared. Living our theological virtue of faith is a conditio sine qua non (essential action).
Sisters and Brothers, life comes with adventures and challenges but our attempt to embrace it or walk away from it should go with trusting faith and hopes in the Lord. Jesus will surely come again, man will surely die: therefore live your life not according to your personal will but by the will of God. God does not deceive us with His promises. Have faith in Him, believe in Him, hope in Him...your reward awaits you! May God strengthen our Faith. Amen.
Hope to see you in church. Thanks.
Sunday, July 28, 2019
St. Augustine of Hippo in his book entitled THE CONFESSIONS opined ”Our hearts are restless until they find rest in God.”
Man spends the whole of his life to acquire wealth, properties, to make investments and to be financially sound. All with the aim of securing the future and his happiness. Due to this, some care less about the means of acquiring these transient material possessions; good or bad. After all, to some the end justifies the means.
The quest for these possessions have created unhealthy competitions, greed, cheating, jealousy and all sorts of unpleasant behaviors and attitudes that have endangered personal relationships (both Divine and Human) which have broken confidence and trust. Therefore, the peace and happiness we claim that the acquisition of all of these material possessions will bring have rather become like a mirage leading human beings into oblivion. Hence, Man has never become satisfied and content. This is because chasing after vanities is like chasing after wind and deceiving one’s self that you can catch it. Then, after all, what value has this earthly life for man?
The author of our first reading helps us to pause a minute and take a deeper reflection of our decisions, heart desires, plans and thoughts about our existence. We fool ourselves into believing that our possessions will bring us happiness and life. Because of this, people claim they don't have time to go to church, to pray, to read the word of God, even to visit family and friends. The usual parlance is, "I am busy! I don't have time!" We toil all day amassing everything to secure our happiness and peace, all to no avail. "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity!" (Eccl 1:2)
Beloved one, know that the meaning of life, true happiness, peace and joy cannot be found in possessions but in the sharing of time, treasure and talents with the needy. The Psalmist also exhorts us to carefully listen to the voice of the Lord but not harden our hearts. For human life passes swiftly on earth, and must end in death and the return of the body into dust.
The Apostle Paul also in the second reading urges us to set our hearts on what will last forever; focus rather on Christ. In the waters of baptism we died with Him (Rom 6). Paul warns that greed for wealth and influence is idolatry. He insists, "Put to death your parts that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry" (Col 3:5). Let CHRIST be your first priority before every other thing. Indeed, a life without Christ is full of crises.
Jesus in the Gospel makes it crystal clear that we should be very careful about all types of greed in our attempt to acquire possessions and power, because greed takes our life’s focus away from God and away from serving and loving Him in other people. Life does not consist in possessions but in sharing what we possess with others.
To conclude with, we must know that the real meaning of life and it's happiness, peace and joy is not found in material possessions or earthly influences but rather instead found in possessing God, listening to His son Jesus Christ and sharing with others what we possess as we live well with them. Anything short of this will make our hearts restless until they find rest in God. Let God be your possession not vanities! May He increase our faith. Amen.
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.