Sunday, October 27, 2019
”You must always humble yourself lovingly before God and before men, because God speaks only to those who are truly humble and enriches them with His gifts.” - St. Padre Pio
The distorted and illusive modern-day culture seems to be overwhelmingly imposing and coercing to the extent that it has not only eroded our rich moral and religious values but also has instilled in our society questionable behavior and character, that are inimical to our faith and our existence.
The impact has led to the assimilation of family, marital, social and religious cultures. Our identity, sense of purpose, dignity as a people and the need for God have been thrown away. Yet, man is still not satisfied and happy. It is all because we are not HUMBLE enough before God and before our fellow human being. Therefore, there is the need for us to go back and pick the very virtues and values that made our ancestors great and strong.
That is why Ben Sirach (the wise Jew-Teacher of morals) in our first reading reminded the Jews, who found themselves in foreign land (175 BC) and had allowed themselves to be corrupted by the pagans living in the cities, to dignify their religious and moral principles. He taught them how faithful Jews should live good life, what moral and spiritual choices they should make, and what behavior was expected of them as religious people. He insisted that the just God had no favorites. He hears and grants the prayers of the humble, orphans, the weak and the oppressed.
Beloved in Christ, as Christians we are inspired to live our lives according to the dictates of our vocation, to pay attention to our spiritual and religious life, to approach prayer and deal with our fellow human beings with the utmost humility they deserve. Humility is actually a state of being that exposes our attitude and approach towards things in life. As a Christian, let humility do the talking. Remember, ”the prayer of the lowly, pierces the clouds to reach the unseen throne of God.” Sirach 35:21
So the Apostle Paul, in the second reading, profoundly acknowledges the immense role God played in his ministry. He said, ”The Lord stood by me and gave me strength... To Him be glory forever and ever.” (2 Tim 4:17-18) This was humility exemplified and epitomized. How many people would say this? The usual language is ”I made it!”
Unfortunately, we live in a world where achievements and accomplishments are attributed to oneself without acknowledging the role of the grace of God. We rather seek praise and recognition for ourselves. But as Christians it is an obligation to see the hand of God and the grace of God operating in everything we accomplish or achieve and acknowledge that. Your humility will open more doors for you! The saints made it because they were humble.
As usual Jesus Christ, in the gospel reading, speaks against the spirit of pride. Due to pride and self-indulgence we sometimes think that we are independent of God. Because of this some individuals degrade others with insensitive comments, words, language, etc.
My dear family of God, Jesus admonishes us to imitate the humble publican (tax collector). Repentance of our sins and acknowledging our total dependence on God and His grace for everything is a good sign of a humble disciple. As a Christian, know that you are a model of prayer in our contemporary world, but your humility will always make the difference and the wonders. Don't be too full of yourself... Just be humble! God hears the cry of the poor.
Stay blessed... Stay dry... Be Humble... Let's meet in Church...
A word of profound gratitude goes to all who played a role for the successful Sacrament of Confirmation program we had last Sunday. Monica and Linda you are just amazing! May God bless our Tri-Parish and the parishioners. Indeed our humility grows our faith. Thanks.
Sunday, October 20, 2019
"Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness.” - St. John Chrysostom
The theme for today’s readings remind me of a joke:
There was this middle-aged farm couple who had no children. After trying their luck in every medical opportunities, they decided to put their trust in PERSISTENT PRAYER as a last resort. And it worked! The wife became pregnant and at the end of her term, she gave birth to triplets. In her excitement she said to the husband, “Persistent prayer really works, doesn’t it?” Her husband replied, “Seems to, but I sure as heck didn’t pray for a bumper crop!”
In our first reading Moses remained persistent in prayer until the Israelites defeated their enemies (the Amelekites). This was achieved not without challenges. When Moses realized that Israel could no more rely on the inadequate resources available to defeat their opponents and also their morale was at the ebb, he resorted to interceding constantly for them. Finally the Israelites were victorious.
Beloved one, don’t be deceived that prayer is a waste of time or is illogically and unempirically oriented, as some people think. Yes, no one can scientifically ascertain how prayer works, but it is the key that has opened the mysteries and myths of life from ancient times 'til now. Whatever challenge, problem or situation you may be battling with, you might have used all available means to surmount it but to no avail. Like Moses, raise up your arms in prayer to join that of Jesus Christ on the cross. Just simply trust God. Your constancy in prayer is your faith in action. There is nothing impossible before God. Just pray!
The Apostle Paul in the second reading insists that our practice of faith is inseparable from our perseverance in prayer. We are inspired that in every situation in life the Word of God should be our bedrock. It is from thence which we must draw our strength and hope in our prayers. Don't grow weary in living the principles and values of your faith. Your perseverance in prayer is a proof of your faith in the Word of God. That is why the psalmist echos, "Our help is from the Lord, who made heaven and the earth.”
So Jesus Christ in our gospel reading uses a parable to teach the lesson of persisting when asking for something. This is what the widow did to the judge until she had her request answered.
Sister and Brother in Christ, whenever you need something from the Lord and it's not forthcoming, don't lose hope. Persistence and perseverance with your faith always pays. As Christians, trust and tenacity in prayer always bring God’s blessings on us. The miracle is that your persistence in prayer will always give you a bumper crop!
Stay blessed... Put on more clothing... May your prayer make you smile... See you in church.
Sunday, October 13, 2019
”To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven.” - Johannes A. Gaertner
It is said, ”an ungrateful child is as dangerous as the venom of the viper.”
Due to the deceptive culture of undermining religion and belief, our modern world seems to have succeeded into brainwashing us into accepting that our achievements and successes are the results of our personal efforts, but not from God (and His grace).
Some believe that it is their right, and that they are in control of their own destiny. This has led people into self-indulgence, ego-centrism, self-focusing and appropriating glory and acknowledgments to themselves.
The consequence of this modern-day trend includes the mad rush for fame, popularity, stardom, celebrity, etc. This is because everyone wants to be in the spotlight. But human beings have soon forgotten that God deserves the due acknowledgments and gratitude. Since, we are what we are because He has made it so, it is from His gratuitous love and care for us. He is our fountainhead. Gratitude should be accorded where it is due.
In our first reading, Naaman (an outcast and non-Israelite) after receiving healing from God through Prophet Elisha acknowledged and showed profound appreciation to Yahweh. He, being a pagan, was very grateful. As Christians we are reminded to invariably exemplify our indebted gratitude for the blessings we undeservedly receive from God.
Paul, in the second reading, admonished Timothy to be grateful to God always, even in his physical sufferings and amid the dangers associated with spreading the Word of God, because God will always be faithful to His people.
But can we find such Christians in our epoch? Unfortunately, we have ”everything-must-be-good-Christians” in our time and age. This is because some Christians of today only thank God when they are in their ”comfort zones.” When life is good, it's due to their personal efforts. When they are facing difficulties and problems it means God has not been good to them and they become angry and complain. But in life, whether good or bad, we must give thanks to God.
In our gospel reading, Jesus Christ praises the Samaritan leper who came back to show appreciation for the healing received.
Beloved family of God, in one way or the other we are ”lepers” whom the Lord heals every moment in our lives. If you enjoy whatever you are fortunate to have it is not because God owes you, it is not because it is your reserved right, it is not because of your personal efforts, it is not because of what you are thinking... But rather it is because God cares for and loves you! Therefore, you need to thank Him.
To conclude, my beloved one, we must see GRATITUDE as an indispensable virtue that serves as a bridge for the continuous flow of God’s graciousness. It also serves as a conduit or a hinge that keeps us connected to one another for the sustainability of our social stability and existence. You can show gratitude through your prayers (the Holy Mass-Thanksgiving), serving and taking good care of the seniors (your parents), by sharing your time, treasures and talents with others. Remember that gratitude does not only move the human, but also the divine. Gratitude is contagious... Gratitude is golden... Gratitude opens many doors... Our gratitude portrays our faith and what we stand for. Just do it! It may be the key to your prayers (miracles).
Stay blessed... Stay warm... See you in Church. Thanks.
Sunday, October 6, 2019
St. Theresa of the Child Jesus prayed, ”Oh Jesus, it is true that I am not always faithful, but I never become discouraged; I cast myself into your arms, and like a little dewdrop, I sink deeper and deeper into your Chalice, oh divine Flower of the field, and there I find all I have lost and much more besides.”
Christians of the 21st century have been corrupted deeply by the theories and the ”wisdom” of modern science and modern thoughts to the extent that FAITH does not mean anything to them anymore. But the irony is that they claim to be committed Christians. Due to this phenomenon, if life hardships become overwhelmingly unbearable they easily succumb to the prescriptions and dictates of the modern-day culture; like committing suicide, becoming anti-religious, taking consolations in drugs, hating everybody around them leading to living in isolation, etc. Instead of applying faith to surmount their situations, some perceive faith as illogical, waste of time, nonsensical and non-empirically oriented. Verily, our vocation as Christians is dependent on faith. The foundations of Christianity is hinged on faith. Our faith makes us our identity and purpose. Notwithstanding, life is not without challenges and surprises.
The prophet Habakkuk, the author of our first reading, complained (cry) of his anguish and dilemma due to how the ”storms of life” seemed to frustrate him. God finally responded to his cry with assurance and encouragement.
My dearest one in Christ, know that life is an adventure and is full of mysteries beyond our control. I do not really know your worries in life that have become a nightmare you are battling with. It could be health issues, marital (relationship) hustling, family problems, work situations, child delinquency, school matters, or probably something is eating you up; because of this you have been thinking and questioning your faith in God, in dilemma, in shame or the worst of it all you are contemplating on ending your life or taking a crazy decision.
Hold it right there and think again as you pray! Remember what the Lord said, ”if it delays, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late. The rash one has no integrity, but the the just one, because of his faith, shall live.” (Habakkuk 2:3-4) There is nothing impossible with God... Just Trust Him and have Faith... Your life will not be the same... Your story will change. God is with you! Whenever we cry to the Lord with faith and trust He surely answers. Every saint had a problem yet their faith in God made them heroes/heroines. So you see you are not the first and you will not be the last. Let FAITH WORK THE WONDERS.
My sisters and brothers, it is for this reason why Jesus Christ in our gospel reading in responding to the request of his Apostles he said, ”if you have faith the size of mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ’Be uprooted and planted in the sea, ’ and it would obey you.” ( Luke 17:6) This implies faith is a key that unlocks the mysteries of life. It gives us power and control to overcome our challenges in life. It emboldens us to be strong to confront our worries squarely. It encourages us to take the right decisions and directions. Be bold in your faith!... You are not alone... Jesus is walking with you.
So Paul in our second reading concludes it all that, ”I remind you to stir into flame... For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord... But bear your share of the hardships for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” (2 Tim. 1: 6-8) Why are you afraid? Are others scaring you? Don't you have faith? God is not dead. Pray to him in faith and hope... Unload your worries unto him and be free. Instead of complaining, ask for an increase in faith... May God be with you.
We thank God for successful Fall Festivals. Millions of thanks to the committee members for their sacrifices, also to all parishioners of our Tri-Parish and all friends for making this years’ a fantastic one. May you see successes and prosperity in all your endeavors.
We are indeed people of faith!
Hope to see you at Church... Thanks. Have a blissful week.
Sunday, September 29,2019
According to Mother Teresa, ”If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
The web of the modern culture of secularism, individualism, materialism and hedonistic lifestyle seem to have pervaded our society; even including marital homes and families. This intrusive phenomenon has corrupted our minds and hearts. Due to this, human beings in this 21st century contemporary society places more premium and value on their wealth, money and property than on an other fellow human beings. Therefore, the rich and the wealthy have become complacent and self-indulgent. They think more about their comfort than sharing with others; especially the poor, the needy and the unfortunate one's in the society.
It is for this reason that the author (Amos) of our first reading warns against the selfish and extravagant use of wealth. The rich only think about their comfort and themselves at the expense of the poor and the needy in their society. He spells woe and indicates God’s vengeance on people who refuse to share their wealth with the poor, needy and the suffering. This is what the Israelites did that brought about the punishment of God on them by sending them into exile.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, we live in a society where we have been brainwashed into thinking that the end justifies the means. People always take advantage of the weak and the unfortunate ones in the society to manipulate them to suit their personal comfort and interest. The rich use their money and power to perpetuate social injustice and corruption of moral principles. But as Christians, we must know that money, power and wealth are gifted us by God to support the poor, needy and suffering in the society but not for our personal luxury and comfort. Share with people what you have. You may be the hand of God that answers the prayer of somebody. Use your wealth to gain your salvation.
In connection to our gospel reading Jesus Christ uses a parable about the drama of the rich man and the poor man, Lazarus to diffuse three misconceptions and false doctrines held by the Pharisees and the Sadducees. These included:
1. That material prosperity was a reward from God in life for being self righteous. Also, poverty and sickness were perceived to be punishments from God because of ones’ sins. Therefore, the poor and the sick have been cursed so there is no need to associate with or to help them.
2. That wealth was a blessing from God, so the way to appreciate and thank God was, after paying the portion of ones' Tithe, to enjoy life by eating, drinking and dressing to show off.
3. The Sadducees defended wrongly a false doctrine that there was no resurrection, so the human soul stood no chance of survival after the death of man. There was no retribution for ones’ deed and neglect of doing the right things. Life was all about ”here and now;” no judgement. This encouraged hedonistic lifestyle.
So Jesus used this parable to debunk these misconceptions by insisting that we have to be generous with people. Show mercy to the plight of the poor and the needy. Also, to remind ourselves that retribution and judgement await us after our life here on earth. Then, we should be conscientious in treating people well and do good all the time. Sharing is caring. Our sense of love, care, concern to the situation of the suffering, poor and the needy is a gateway to our salvation.
Therefore, Apostle Paul, in our second reading encourages us to pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience and gentleness. Meaning, we should not allow ourselves to be deceived by the world that life is all about wealth, money, power etc. But rather, these are only transient gifts given us to better our fraternity, faith and to support others. Your life and salvation do not depend on these gifts, but on God and how we use them. Remember what the Psalmist echoed, ”Blessed is he who keeps faith forever, secures justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry...”
This is what made the saints heroes. Are you ready to be one?
May God bless you and all you do. Enjoy the chills of the fall season.
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.