Have you ever wondered what all the signs and symbols in our Catholic churches mean? Fr. Emmanuel describes the meaning behind some of the images and depictions you might recognize from your parish!
THIRTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
"Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire."
God has given each of us equal opportunities and our unique talents in life. However, each of us is going to account for whatever we do with those opportunities and talents. Our world will surely come to an end and we need to use every opportunity and talent given us to prepare ourselves to achieve our goal of eternal life.
Unfortunately, the perceptions of our secular and anti religious societies see these opportunities and talents as the fruits of their personal effort. So instead of using these for the purpose of God and the promotion of the mission of Christ they rather use them in pursuit of mundane goals and aspirations.
Our readings aim at motivating us to live in such a way that we make the best use of the talents received from God, so that at the hour of our death our Lord will say: “Well done, my good and faithful servant!... Come and share the joy of your Master.” - Matthew 25:21
In our first reading the author using the values and the qualities of a good wife enjoins us to be not only loyal and diligent Christians but also industrious and faithful ones in the use of of our God-given talents and gifts with the “fear of the Lord.” Like the wife we must reach out to the poor and extend our arms to the needy. By this, we stand responsibly ready and prepared to enter Heaven: our eternal home for everlasting life. We are obliged to practice love for both God and neighbors. This pleases God. We have to be creatively and lovingly active. Do everything to carry out the will of God. This is the reason why you have been called to be a Christian.
So the Psalmist echoes that the faithful servant of God is blessed and affirms that the fear of God is the key to human happiness and joy.
In our second reading Paul admonishes that we are “children of the Light” therefore we need to “stay alert and sober.” This calls us to live always prepared to meet our Lord’s second coming. Our wholehearted dedication and commitment to the responsibilities of our Christian living and focusing on our missions will earn us the Lord’s praises at the Final Judgement. Be encouraged and build one another up for salvation.
In conclusion, our gospel message urges us to use our talents and gifts primarily to serve God and doing everything to carry out God given will. We are challenged to be positive, constructive and life-affirming within our circumstances in our time and age, especially, in this unprecedented pandemic period. This must come with trust and focus in God. Whatever is given us is meant to bear fruits for the glory of God and the salvation of our souls. We need to be open in our Christian community by putting into good use every talents, gifts and opportunities God has given us.
Stay healthy... Faith over fear... Keep the Faith... Spread the Faith...
PREPARE YOURSELF FOR SALVATION...
THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
"The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort.
As human as we are the end of our existence on this planet always stares at our face. It’s an indispensable circumstance no one has power or choice over. But the obvious concern is our readiness and the preparations for that end. The non believers strongly posit that death ends our life here on earth so no need to worry about judgement and whatever happens to their souls. Due to this conviction they follow the philosophical wisdom of this physical world.
Where people feel that, for want of freedom, we do not need religion and morality, do whatever makes you happy, take decisions and make choices without considering the repercussions to your neighbor because it’s your right, family or communal life is no more necessary because my privacy/individualism is the priority, the more you possess or accumulate properties makes you powerful in our world today, the end justifies the means. Enjoy your life here and now, do not worry about tomorrow: there is no life after this life!
But for us Christians death rather is a necessary transition to eternal destination of the Kingdom of God. The philosophical wisdom of the world can not save us but unless we open ourselves up to the divine wisdom. Therefore, a searching, watching, and growing heart is essential for a lively, dynamic faith in God. Our readings are throwing a challenge to us to check whether we are ready for our salvation and entrance into the new life of eternity and how we are preparing for it.
That is why in the first reading the author personified the essence of wisdom to encourage adherents to embrace her. His target audience was the dispersed Jews in Alexandria, in Egypt, around 100 BC. As fellow Jews he inspired them to seek and learn from wisdom. Wisdom is a divine gift which will not elude anyone who seeks her sincerely. By this he motivates that adherence to religious values and principles does not matter the environment and location one finds themselves. This is because God is everywhere. He is universal. What is necessary is conforming to Divine wisdom. Being watchful and open makes you prepare for the next life. Indeed, God willingly reveal Himself, but mysteriously in His own way.
Wisdom makes us search and seek for God and to be with Him after our earthly life. Hence, the Psalmist opines, “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.”
Apostle Paul, in the second reading, exhorts his adherents about the hope of the resurrection in the midst of the immediacy of the parousia (second coming) of Jesus Christ. Obviously, Christ will come again and this world will come to an end so we need to to be vigilant by opening up to the Divine wisdom.
In our gospel message Jesus Christ gives a parable about the foolish and the wise virgins to illustrate the coming of the Kingdom. The five foolish virgins represent those who do not listen to Divine wisdom and are not prepared for the end of life. The five wise virgins are the exact opposite of the former. Hence, every Christian needs to be alert and vigilant in their lives always checking whatever they do. There is better life after this transient life. It takes divine wisdom to be there! Just be wise in your choices, decisions, plans, actions and words. Preparation is key.
Stay healthy... Faith over fear... Keep the Faith...
LET DIVINE WISDOM LEAD...
ALL SAINTS DAY
"If he and she can become Saints, why can't I?"
The advancements of our modern world have unfortunately led to secularism and indifference to religion. This has degenerated into corruption of the moral fabric of our society: where human beings are careless about their attitudes, conducts, behaviors, words and actions and their consequences. This significantly and indispensably poses challenges to Christians and their faith.
However, in the history of Christianity every epoch: ancient, medieval, modern or contemporary, has witnessed its own troubled times where believers have to face circumstances that challenged their faith values and principles. Some individual Christians have stood tall in dedication and commitment to the faith in defending the gospel values and the mission of Jesus Christ in their respective environments. Living their call to holiness in the midst of persecutions, hatred, injustices, immortality, corruption, atheism, etc made some of them to ultimately pour their blood as their proof. Their consistency and unrelenting attitudes towards their faith, even to the point of loosing their lives for the sake of Christ, has made them models and noble examples worthy of emulation.
Hence, the celebration of the feast of All Saints Day today. We rejoice in honoring and dignifying them for their glorious achievements. Now they are blest in the eyes of God and they stand in God’s holy place and sing of the love God has bestowed on them.
Historicity about this feast indicates that it was established to honor the great number of Christians martyred during the persecution of Emperor Diocletian (284-305). Mentioned in the 4th century as one for the Eastern rite celebrated as All Martyrs (according to St. Ephrem of Edessa, 373). In the Western rite it was commemorated on Sunday after Pentecost. Overtime, (609/610) the origin of this feast was perceived to be rooted in the dedication of the Roman Pantheon under the title of S. Maria ad Martyres by Pope Boniface IV (608-615). Pope Gregory IV (827-844) transferred its celebration from May to November 1, an adoption of the English Gallican practice, by making it a holy day.
Our first reading presents the vision of John of Patmos about so great a multitude of Saints in the heavenly glory. These are wearing white robes because they have survived the times of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. This is an indicative to the Christians that the journey to sainthood does not come on a silver platter. These individuals put their trust in Christ and lived heroic lives of faith. They allowed themselves to be used as instruments that God used to work miracles in their time and age. So after achieving the celestial glorification they become our heavenly mediators and intercessors.
Therefore, the Psalmist affirms that their longing to see the face of God has be rewarded. There is hope for us too who long to see His face.
St. John, in the second reading, indicates that God, the Father, has bestowed His love to us; by which we become the children of God. This suggests to us that Saints are children who generously responded to the love of God showered upon them. Hence, our hope of becoming Saints to enjoy the unrevealed things in the heavenly glory, of which the the Saints are enjoying, is to be children of God and as pure as Himself.
Thus, Jesus Christ motivates us with the BEATITUDES to indicate to us that the Saints we celebrate and honor today walked on the hard and narrow paths of their Christian vocation and mission here on earth to arrive at the heavenly glory. The Beatitudes demands far and beyond the Ten Commandments but these guided and shaped the attitudes and behaviors of those individuals to reach their goals of salvation. The Beatitudes are, indeed, the true and reliable recipe to sainthood.
This inspires us that we can become Saints by choosing well by doing good and avoiding evil, by choosing to follow Christ, the way to heaven. The Saints were once like you. You will also be like them one day. Just be saint today!
Faith over fear... Keep the Faith... See you in Church...
JUST IMITATE THE SAINTS...
THIRTIETH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
"The things that we love tell us what we are."
Love is a language we speak to express our intent and desires in relationships: being divine or human.
Love is an indispensable bridge that connect nature: either divine or human.
Love is an expression that crosses every barrier, color, race, tribe, gender, etc that everyone understands.
Love is a key that opens doors to discover our destiny, purpose and mission in our terrestrial existence.
Nonetheless, has our modern world advanced the very essence of Love in it rightful direction? I think it has been twisted to salute the transgressions and the deceit of our corrupt and filtering away society. This is because the very core values and the prospects of Love has not only been shamefully compromised but also abysmally adulterated!
In our contemporary world today:
People claim to love, yet they slander and kill others.
People claim to love, yet they hurt, deceive and betray trust and confidence of others.
People claim to love, yet they unjustly mistreat and abuse others.
People claim to love, yet they cheat and are corrupt to others.
People claim to love, yet they disrespect and disparage others.
People claim to love, yet they refuse to care and pay attention to the feelings, the the needs and the plight of others.
People claim to love, yet they refuse to acknowledge the presence of God and their fellow human being in their lives.
Is this what they call LOVE? If not, then what is it? Love has now become only a feeling and just a word where they use without attaching importance to it; as if it is just like a passing away wind. But actually, Love is an action and a practice of what we truly are. Unfortunately, if human beings grow to become indifferent to religion and morality; this is the result!
Hence, our readings today aim at calling humanity especially us, Christians, to reconsider our responsible obligations to Love. To Love God and to love our neighbor is not a choice but a right and a must to do, per our vocation.
In the first reading after God liberated the Hebrews from Egypt and were in mount Sinai he expressed His desire to enter into a covenant with them. He made the terms of this covenant with them, of which they agreed. The Ten Commandments was the core of the covenantal terms. In this He demanded from them a social conduct of compassionate love for others. To love the underprivileged fellow human beings, the poor, widows, orphans, etc as God had done to them when in slavery. So it should be both social and religious ethics to love and be compassionate on others; because to love God is to love your neighbor. As Christians, let us understand that to love our neighbor is to honor the image of God and to do this is to honor God Himself. To love our neighbor is to practically to respect the creation of God and to prove our love of God. Loving our neighbor is not only obeying the commandments but actually summarizing them into action.
That is why the Psalmist clearly states that to love God is to manifest who He is to us: our rock, fortress, deliverer, strength, horn of salvation, stronghold, savior, etc. So if we love our neighbor this is what we give them.
Apostle Paul, in the second reading praises the Thessalonian Christians for being models of the Faith to others. Their enthusiastic mutual love for one another was not only an example but also contagious to others including pagans. Their love for themselves in following the commands of Christ was great and amazing. In the same way we also have the obligation to be models of love by proving our love of God in our challenging world and also showing in practical sense this love to our neighbor in this pandemic period.
In conclusion, Jesus Christ in the gospel reading, in answering the Pharisee, put the Ten Commandments in summation: Love of God and Love of neighbor. Hence to paraphrase the C.C.C.#2083 & 2196 Love of God means dedication of the whole person to His will, putting Him first in your mind and heart, speaking respectfully of Him, honoring Him, etc. Loving your neighbor means treating people with respect, respecting them, their relationships, reputations and properties. Acknowledgement of their inviolable human right, seeing them as part of yourself.
Indeed, let our love be for God but not for the world. We are for God but not for the world. God can save us but the world can squander us. The world is transient but God is permanent and eternal. The world has a destruction but God has a destination to eternal life for us. Your duty is to LOVE God and LOVE your neighbor; leave the rest to Him!
Faith over fear... Keep the Faith... Love is contagious. See you in Church.
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR CONFIRMANDI.
YOU ARE INDEED GALLANT SOLDIERS OF THE FAITH IN THIS CHALLENGING PANDEMIC!
TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR IS TO LOVE GOD...
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.