Homily for 2nd Sunday of Christmas,Year A

Christ, God’s Wisdom and Light that Dispels our Darkness

Readings: 1st: Ecc 24:1-2.8-12; Ps 147:12-20; 2nd: Eph 1:3-6.15-18: Gos: Jn 1:1-18

           

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 Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

“In the beginning was the Word…a light shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not over power…the Word was the true light that enlightens all men…” Today is the 2nd Sunday in the octave of Christmas. On this Sunday, we continue to savor the joy of the new born king, we continue to greet the Word made flesh that now dwells among us, and we continue to rejoice because, as the wisdom of God, he dispels our darkness and illumines our lives. Today, the church invites us to reflect on the import of Christ’s coming to us.

There is a very strong relationship between wisdom and light. In fact, they are synonymous to each other. On the contrary, light or wisdom and darkness are opposites. Light is always contra darkness and dispels it. The Book of Wisdom addresses God as the one who “made all things by your word; God’s eternal, creative, and illuminating power” (Wis 9:1). Proverbs equally writes: “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth” (Pr 3:19). “Light”, “Word” and “Wisdom” are seen as one and the same. This is what they achieve: “For while gentle silence enveloped all thing, your all-powerful Word leaped from heaven, into the midst of the land that was doomed…” (Wis 18, 14-16).

This is what the birth of Christ did for us this season. As the wisdom of God, Christ came to banish ignorance by revealing things that are hidden for ages. As Wisdom He enlightens the eyes of our mind so that we can appreciate God (Eph 18). As light, he not only clears the obscurities of our mind, but also lights up our way. Hence, the psalmist says: “Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a guide for my path…” (Ps 119, 105).

Today, wisdom is personified in our first reading. He is none other than Jesus Christ, the fullness of God’s wisdom. One important point to note from this reading is the fact that wisdom proceeds from God. Thus, Wisdom speaks: “From eternity, in the beginning, he created me…” In other words, he was part and parcel of the nature of God. The good news of this season is that after ages, he is now with us as human in order to help us work and walk in the light. Who are these privileged people? My dear, we are! Therefore the cause of our unending joy this season is that we are highly favored by God. However, it is important that we open ourselves so that He can make use of us adequately. If we do, we shall become wise and enlightened because iron sharpens iron, and fire begets fire.

In our second reading today, Paul continues to thank and bless God, “who has blessed us with all spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ.” This spiritual blessing is Jesus Christ himself, the Wisdom of God who is with us to dispel all ignorance and to illumine our dark spots. Also, Paul reminds us that we are those chosen and favored by God. This is not only for the purpose of being holy and spotless, but also, for adoption as fellow brethrens of Christ.

So, as we continue to rejoice this season, let us know that Christ’s birth sealed our own adoption and opened a door for all of us into God’s heart. Therefore as Paul prayed, “May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ… give you the spirit of wisdom and perception of what is revealed…” let us welcome Wisdom into our lives as our guide. This is because without Wisdom we cannot appreciate what wonders God has worked for us this season. Without the eyes of our mind being opened by the “Ancient of Days” himself, we will remain in perpetual ignorance and our minds always clogged with wickedness.

Today as was on Christmas day, our gospel kicks off with a description of God’s “Logos” or Word. John reminds us of the following that: “Through his Word the heavens were made.” John describes Jesus as God’s creative, life and light giving Word that has come to us in human form. Truly, Jesus is the Wisdom and Power of God which created and sustains the world. Therefore, in order to save us, He assumed our nature. Jesus became truly man while remaining truly God.

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What he was (Divine), he remained, and what he was not (human nature), he has assumed for the sake of our salvation. Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God, he is truly the wisdom and light that dispels the darkness of our life and world. Without losing his divinity he became a man and our brother. He is the one with whom now we shear the same paternity as adopted children of God. His acceptance to be born like us gained us this exalted position and illumines our world.

Finally, for allowing the light of his face shine upon us this season through his Word, Light and Wisdom, let us, like David the Psalmist continue to say: “O Lord, you are my light and my salvation…(Ps 127, 1).

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you all!

Peace be with You!

Maranatha!!

Appreciation and Gratitude: Thanks To You All My Dear Brothers And Sisters For Being There For Me This Year!

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I am grateful to all of you my brothers and sisters in Christ who visited and read these homilies in spite of their many inadequacies and errors. I am most gratful to all of you who read and responded by way of showing appreciation, encouragements and even criticisims. 2014 was a wonderful year and I hope that 2015, will bring us better things. As we enter a new year in a couple of hours from now (of course, some of our brethrens in Asia and Oceania are already there now), I pray that God will grant us all we need to make 2015 a wonderful expirience. May the blessings of the Almighty God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit come down upon you now and for evermore. Amen!

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Happy New Year and peace be with you all you.
Maranatha!
Fr. Canice Chukwuemeka Njoku, C.S.Sp

Homily for 1st Jan -Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, Year B

Resolving To Walk With God This Year: Mary, Mother of God, Help Us!

Rdgs: (1st: Nu 6, 22-27: Ps 66, 2-6; 2nd: Gal 4, 4-7: Gos: Luke 2, 16-21)         

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 Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

“Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time. For the first time in the plan of salvation and because his Spirit had prepared her, the Father found the dwelling place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among men… (CCC 721). Happy New Year my dear brethrens! Today is a special day for all of us. First, we give thanks to God for his many favours especially, for the opportunity of a New Year. Second, today we celebrate the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Both of these are sources of great blessings to us and so we cannot but say thank you Lord! One remarkable thing about all our readings today is that they are all short and simple. While the first is God’s blessing upon us for the New Year, the second, and the Gospel help us reflect on the role of Mary, Mother of God in God’s plan our salvation.

On this first day of the year, today’s solemnity is a celebration of Mary’s motherhood of Jesus. The title “Mother of God” is a western derivation from the Greek “Theotokos” (God-bearer).  Today, the church as ever before, reminds us of the role that the Blessed Virgin Mary played in the plan of our salvation. This solemnity can be traced back to the Council of Ephesus in 431.  In 1751, after a push in Portugal for an official feast day celebrating Mary’s divine maternity, Pope Benedict XIV allowed Portugal’s churches to devote a feast to Mary on the first Sunday in May.  Eventually, the feast extended to other countries, and in 1914 began to be observed on October 11.  In 1931, Pope Pius XI extended the feast to the entire church. Finally, in 1974, Pope Paul VI removed the feast of the Circumcision of Christ from the liturgical calendar, and replaced it with the feast of the “Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God”, bringing Mary’s feast day back to the first day of the year.

New Year offers new opportunities, new ideas, and new resolutions. It is a sign of regeneration and a time hope. A young man was asked: “What is your new year resolution? And he simply responded: “I have resolved to give God all his due. I have owed him enough.” He was further asked: “And what is this His due? He responded: “His due is me, the whole of my life, the whole of my time and the whole of my plans; I have long walked alone and failed. This year I will not work alone again. So my number one priority this year is to walk with God and I know he will not let me fail again as I have always done alone.” Many times I have personally made New Year resolutions. Unfortunately, I have not been good at keeping them. This could have been due to any of the following reasons: May be, I was not meticulous enough about keeping them; May be, circumstances beyond my control prevailed against me and my game plan had to change; and most importantly, may be because in making those resolutions I did not consult God. These are all possibilities, but I think the last is the most probable because we are often in a hurry to do things without asking God, what do I do this time, how do I do it, and where do I go from here? So, if we have made resolutions and failed it could be that we did not allow God to vet them and to show us the way forward. One important thing we must do this New Year is to resolve to strengthen our relationship and walk with God. We must be ready to commit our ways unto him as Proverbs tells: Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans (Pr 16, 3). And also, as the Psalmist admonishes us: Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this…(Ps 37, 5). This year we must refuse to move unless God goes before us. In order words we must develop the resilient spirit of Moses who insisted before God: “If you do not personally go with us, do not make us leave this place… (Ex 33, 15).  Of course the Lord heard his petition: “I will do just as you have asked because I know you very well and I am pleased with you” (v.17).  We must like Enoch (Gen 5, 24) walk with God this year in order to achieve our plans and resolutions. On his own part God is ever ready and willing to walk with us. Hence through our first reading today, he has equipped us for the journey ahead this year. It is a blessing and comes at no other time better than on the first day of a New Year. Therefore, all we need do is simply say Amen. It is a blessing that must guide us positively into, and throughout the year. This is the evidence that God himself wishes to walk with us. What more do we need this year if He has pronounced his blessings on us and has pledge to allow the light of his face shine upon us? Nothing more my brethren! All we need is to resolve to walk with him and he will do the rest.

The second reading on its part reminds us of how God took flesh by being born of the Blessed Virgin Mary whose solemnity we celebrate today. Most importantly, this reading reminds us of our sonship which is not biological but through adoption. We, by adoption, are children of the same Father (God) as Christ is. Likewise, by adoption, we are children of Mary because, only Christ is biologically speaking. So as children of God we are born of the same spirit with Christ and equally share the same mother. The gospel simply teaches and reminds us that Mary played her motherly role very towards her son Jesus Christ – God made man. Most importantly, it teaches that she was obedient and fulfilled all that she was told to do: “When the eight day came…they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception.”  Not only did she give birth to Him, she nurtured him like every good mother would. Though this, she presents herself as the epitome and model of Good motherhood.

So, as we move into this year already blessed by God in our first reading, let us continue to ask the Mother of God and our mother too, to help us remain focused all through this year in our walk with God and in all that we do. Let us pray: “Hail Mary full of grace…Hail Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now until the hour of our death…Oh Holy Mother of God despise not our prayers in our necessity, but deliver us from all dangers, oh ever glorious and blessed Virgin Mary…Amen. Happy New Year to you all!

Peace be with You!

Maranatha!!

Homily For Holy Family – 1st Sunday Of Christmas (1)

Acting and Praying Together: Living the Spirit of the Holy Family of Nazareth

           Rdgs: (1st: Sirac 3, 2-6. 12-14: Ps 128, 1-5; 2nd: Col 3, 12-21: Gos: Lk 22, 22-40)           

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 Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

On this first Sunday of Christmas season year B, the church invites us to celebrate the Holy Family of Nazareth, the family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Sociologically speaking, the family is described as the nucleus of the human society. It is the place where life and learning begins. Today’s celebration is meant to remind us of the specific and important role of the sacred institution of family in our lives. The church reminds us through today’s celebration that the sustenance and subsistence of our society and world at large, hinges on the continuous existence of the family. Therefore today, the church presents the Holy Family to us as the model for all families who fear and walk in the ways of God.

Today’s celebration underscores the fact that an ideal family is made up of basically a man and a woman, and if God wills, children (Ps.127). Any union other than this in the name of family is an aberration, “pseudomonic” (false), and against God who in the beginning made them male and female. He did not take the ribs of Adam to create another man for Adam to cohabit with. Instead, he took Adam’s ribs and out of it created a biologically and functionally different being, woman (Gen 1 and 2). This call therefore comes at the most appropriate time when the costly fabrics of this sacred institution are greatly threatened and been swiftly eroded by all sorts of unhealthy, demonic, ill-fated ideologies, philosophies, cultural, religious, and odd social practices. To say that the devil and his cohorts are making frantic effort to poison and destroy it completely, might be stating the obvious in a most simple and mild way. In spite of this, there is still hope for this sacred institution.

I have lived in Puerto Rico for a couple of months now, and one of the things that I find very interesting about Puerto Ricans is their strong regard for their family and family values. In spite of the daunting influence of globalization and most importantly, the influence of their affiliating state, they still value their family union and identity so much. Families here are united in prayer, act together, and in fact, carry every member along in virtually all their activities, both social and religious. Those who live abroad are occasionally, drawn back home by the “Family Spirit and Love” with and in which they were brought up. Parents still take care, and pray earnestly for the well being of their children, while children still value and take care of their aged parents. The idea of “sending and abandoning” their aged parents in old people’s home is unconceivable here. This is a great sign of hope for the sacred institution of family. The call today is for us to rise up and emulate the model of ideal family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in other to fashion ours, or repair our broken families.

The first reading of this Sunday explicitly outlines the three different components of a family, the Father, “the first arm”; the mother, “the second arm”; and children, “the third arm” of the family. Each is important and unique in their positions. It equally outlines the position of each member in relation to one another: “God sets the father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.” Most importantly, in this reading is the fact that the roles of children towards their parents are greatly stressed. This role centers on honor, obedience and humility towards ones parents. This is a serious lesson for all children who wish to live long and be blessed. There is a reward for obeying and making both our earthly or heavenly parents happy. Paul hits this nail right on its head when he reminds us of our duties in our families: “Children, it is your Christian duty to honor your parents, for this is the right thing to do. Respect your father and your mother is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it; so that it may go well with you” (Eph 6, 1-4). Jesus our model did perfectly well. In spite of being God, he never scorned his earthly and heavenly parents. Instead, he was humble and obedient (Phil 2, 6-11).

In today’s second reading, Paul reminds us of the very significant virtues that are very important to sustain our families. Each member of the family must strive to acquire them. Any family where these are found would definitely remain solid and united. These factors as Paul enumerates them include: heartfelt compassion on members of our families and not just the lip service type, kindness, humility, gentleness towards each member of the family, patience with one another in the family, bearing with and forgiving members of our families when they err against us. Most importantly, Paul says: “Put on love and let the peace of Christ control your hearts.” This is very important! Most families are not living in peace today because instead of wearing the garment of love they wear that of hatred and so affect others negatively. Any child brought up under this type of condition will definitely be a torn in the flesh of the society and our world. The reason we experience all forms of aberrations today in our family settings and consequently in our societies is because we have neglected these for too long. To sum up his counsel on the family, Paul succinctly reminds us individual roles in the family. “Fathers, love your wives and avoid bitterness towards them…Wives, respect your husbands…Children, obey your parents.” Jointly, “parents do not provoke your children.” These roles are crystal clear. The question now is who amongst us have failed in his/her role, and why are our families the way they are today? The candid answer is that most of us have failed in our duty and responsibility toward our families. So we must today emulate this wonderful family of Nazareth in order to rebuild them.

The Gospel on its part presents to us the Holy Family. In addition to the virtues that Paul enumerated above, there are two very important characteristics of this family presented to us today. These include, praying and acting together. In my few years a priest, one experience has kept me wondering how much importance we still attach to our families. For a good number of times I have seen mothers alone bringing their children for baptism and other very important sacraments in the church. Yet, one of the marriage question and consent goes thus: “Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?” Of course, to this, the answer by both the man and the woman is always: “Yes I will!” However, and sadly, many of us are too busy to grace the important occasions and ceremonies of members of our families talk less of coming together to pray. Yet every day we listen to the beautiful saying that, “a family that prays together stays together.” Together, Mary and Joseph took their son Jesus to the temple to be consecrated. They acted and prayed together for the good of their family. When Herod threatened their baby, they decided together in prayers to flee to Egypt. This is a very important virtue to emulate from them today as we celebrate them. This is most especially in our world where individualism had done a great harm to our family ties. Praying and acting together is the magic wand which sustains families. These help our families pull through difficult moments in life. This is true of the saying that “united we stand, divide we fall.” The family has suffered so much and is at the brink of collapse. The only way to heal it is by imitating and the Holy Family we celebrate today. Therefore, let us pray, Jesus, Mary and Joseph: Make our hearts like unto yours. Merry Christmas!

Peace be with You!

Maranatha!!

 

Homily For Christmas Day

The Mystery Is Revealed, And The Word Is Among Us!

Readings: (1st: Ish 52, 7-10; Ps: 97, 1-6; 2nd: Heb 1, 1-6; Gos: John 1, 1-18)

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 Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

“Sing a new song to the Lord for he has worked wonders…The Lord has made known his salvation…acclaim the King the Lord.” Today is Christmas day, the day we have long awaited and prepared for. Christmas is a milestone in the history of our salvation so it is wonderful to know that “God is with us” to save us. Today, God has proved the depth of his love for us by allowing his own son to be born of a virgin.  The Word spoken of, and prophesied about long ago has finally taken flesh. The central message of today’s celebration is the incarnation and revelation of Jesus Christ.

Our first reading from Isaiah finds its sphere of accomplishment in the birth of Jesus Christ, His life and ministry. Therefore, it is a suitable biblical reading for a day like this. Isaiah proclaims: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the one who brings Good News.” In deed the Good News himself is here with, and among us. The onus now lies on us to become “partners in progress”, by spreading the Good News. It is the Good News of love, peace, charity, hope, happiness and above all, it is a Good News of salvation. The call of the prophet today is a call to celebrate Emmanuel, God with us.  It is a call to adore and worship the new born king and prince of peace. It is a call to be joyful, and a call to take the message about the birth of the Messiah to all and sundry.

In our second reading, the letter to the Hebrews captures, and presents what God did for us today in a most convincing and spectacular manner. The letter to the Hebrews simply reminds us that God has fulfilled the promise he made by revealing the hidden mystery of salvation. Now we are the favored ones. Revelation has reached its apogee today and the hidden mystery of the old covenant has finally been revealed in Jesus Christ.

The gospel of John gives us the synopsis of what happened today, the divine incarnation of God: “The Word was made flesh, He lived among us, and we saw His glory.” The Word which was with the Father as Spirit is now with us as flesh. While not losing His sacred or spiritual nature, he has condescended to become like us. He did this by taking flesh in a poor, humble, willing and lovely virgin. It takes love to do this. Therefore what we celebrate today is love because: “…God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son… (Jh 3, 16).

We must be ready to share this love. God sent Christ out of love, Christ accepted to come out of love, the messengers and prophets announced his coming out of love, and of course, out of love, Mary and Joseph cooperated with God to bring Him forth. So we must not snap the silver chain of love instead, instead, let us extend it to others. Therefore, this is a season we must be ready to offer ourselves to others. One thing we must do this season is that, just as Christ has reached out to us, we too must be ready to reach out to others too. 

Today we celebrate Sacrifice.  So, we too must be ready to sacrifice something for the good of our brothers and sisters as Christ did by leaving his heavenly throne in order to be with us. Just as Christ came down from heaven to be with us, and to show us the way, we must leave our highly exalted positions and comfort zones to reach out to the lowly, suffering and neglected of our society. Today we celebrate Humility. So, we must learn to be humble from Christ. In spite of being the king of the universe, he allowed himself to be born in a manger not minding the discomforts. Today, what we celebrate is the advent of the reign of peace. Peace not as the world gives, but as God promises to offer it to those who believe in him (Jh 14, 21).

Finally, what we celebrate today is hope because Christ’s birth is a great hope raiser for all who would sincerely believe in him. What this means is that, we must exercise great hope and faith, even though, our world is engulfed in wars, hatred, hunger, starvation, cyber attacks, kidnapping, maiming and killing of innocent children, bloodshed,  modern slavery, oppression, injustice, tactical re-colonialism, and in fact, all forms of both natural and human made disasters. Today is a day of joy. So, I wish all of you my dear brethren a wonderful and fun filled celebration this joyful season. Therefore: “Sing psalms to the Lord with harp, with the sound of musicwith trumpets and the sound of the hornacclaim the King, the Lord” who is with us. Merry Christmas!

Peace be with you all!!

Maranatha!!!

Homily for 4th Sunday of Advent, Year B

The Mystery Hidden In Mary – The Ark Of God’s New Covenant

Rdgs: (1st: 1Sam 7, 1-5. 8-16: Ps 88, 2-5. 27. 29; 2nd: Rom 16, 25-27: Gos: Lk 1, 26-38)           

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 Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

“Rejoice so highly favored, the lord is with you…You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus…the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David!” Today is the fourth and last Sunday of Advent season. We are just a couple of days away from Christmas. Today’s celebration therefore is a great song to the everlasting love of God revealed in his covenant with his servant David and his entire people. This Mystery behind and within his covenant with his people kept secret for ages past is what is about to be revealed in the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the ark of God’s New Covenant. Today, the good news about the birth of the messiah was in a most spectacular fashion conveyed to Mary, and humbly, she accepted it.

In our first reading, out of love and in appreciation of God’s love, David moved to build a house for God. However, God would not allow him, but instead, made a promise to David, and sealed it with a covenant: “…I will preserve the offspring of your body after you…I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me…your house and your sovereignty will always stand secure…your throne will be established forever” This promise and covenant is what we expect its fulfillment in few days time. It is based on this same promise and covenant to David that both Luke and Matthew proceeded to trace and write the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Mtt 1, 1-17; Luke 3, 23-38). The reason is to prove that Jesus is actually an off spring of David and so, is the son of whom the prophets spoke about in relation to the throne of David. The hidden mystery of the old covenant is about to be revealed in the new covenant, the offspring of David and the Son of God.

In our second reading, first, Paul gives glory to God because of the strength he gave him to preach the good news, and then throws more light on the fact that Jesus is the Mystery that has been kept hidden for ages. His revelation is the salvation of the world. This good news is the mystery which God himself concealed in the covenant of old. This is enough reason to give God glory today, and during the imminent season of Christmas in full view. During these few days before Christmas, as we tidy up what is remaining of our preparation, we must continue on a note of giving all glory to God for what he is about to do in our lives and in our world at large. Paul’s message today sets us on the fast track towards the incarnation of God’s word which is very close at hand.

The Gospel of today presents us with two important figures in the “drama of the nativity of Christ.” First the angel Gabriel, the faithful messenger appears with a message. His message is about the fulfillment of a promise, and about the revelation of the hidden Mystery of the old covenant in the new. A mystery remains a mystery only, until God decides to unveil it, and Jesus is that Mystery who will be revealed to us on Christmas day through God’s instrument Mary, who willing accepted Christ to take her flesh. Mary’s role in the salvation history stands out clearly today. She receives the message calmly in spite of all odds against her. As the ark of God’s new covenant, she yields easily by giving her fiat: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it is done unto me according to your words.” With these innocent words she accepted the role assigned to her before time (Ish 7, 10-14). Not only was Mary’s faith a statement of willing donation and submission of herself to God’s own will for the salvation of the world, it is also a statement of her humility, generosity, courage, and love for humanity. She took such an enormous risk that none of us might be ready to undertake even for the best of price or reward. She did this in spite of all the inconveniences and risks attached to it especially, the possibility that her proposed spouse Joseph would divorce her and that her reputation would be badly smeared in the deeply religious and cultural family, and community of her time.

Today therefore, just as Mary got the message and cherished it in her heart and is willing to give us the Messiah, we too must cherish the good news about the unveiling of the Mystery of God’s new covenant to us. Let me remind you my dear brethrens, that the season we are about to enter is a season of joy, receiving, sharing, and giving. Today the angel brought the good news to Mary so also, we must continue spreading this message. This is a season in which we must send some good news, through cards, gifts of love and good will messages. Let us try and reach out to others especially, the poor, the week, the aged, and especially those who cannot offer us anything in return. The good news is also for them, and we can be their angel Gabriel through whom the wonderful joy of Christmas can reach them.

Finally, as we wait for the next couple of days for the manifestation of the new covenant and the fulfillment of God’s promise to his servant David, let us join the psalmist in proclaiming: “I will sing forever of your love, O lord.  Through all the ages, my mouth will proclaim your truth!”

Peace be with You!

Maranatha!!

Homily for 3rd (“Gaudate”) Sunday of Advent, Year B

Rejoice, But Do Not Lose Focus of Your Destination!

Readings: (1st: Ish 61, 1-2.10-11: Ps {Lk 1, 46-54}; 2nd: 2 Th 5, 16-22: Gos: Jh 1, 6-8. 19-28)

          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 Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

“I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God; The Almighty works marvel for me, Holy is his name”(Ish 6, 10-11; Luke 1, 49). Like a sojourner who seats by a fresh stream while looking at his destination across a valley, today we seat to be refreshed by God while joyfully looking at our salvation which is close at hand. Today is the Church’s and our response to that call of prophet Isaiah last week (2nd Sunday of Advent): “Look, here your God is coming with power”. We are doing this with the sight of our destination in full view.

The third Sunday of Advent is a Sunday of joy (Gaudate), because it provides us with the season and moment of refreshment for the rest of the journey ahead. Having come thus far in our journey, therefore the Church says to us as the prophet Nehemiah said to the Israelites: “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Neh 8, 10). This is of course with the hope that we do not lose focus of our destination. This should provoke the feeling of great joy my dear friends, and this joy is what we celebrate today. However, it suffices to note that this is not the end of the journey. There is still one week and a couple of days separating us from our final destination. The likely temptation today is for us some of us to presume that we have arrived. My dear, we have not arrived, it is not over until it is over. So, after today we must continue our journey with the feeling of a new zeal, fully re-energized and re-empowered.

In our first reading today, Isaiah busts out in Joy as he experienced the divine presence and hand of God tremendously at work in his life and mission: “The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me, for the Lord has anointed me to…” This is a song of joy and satisfaction of one who has been fully empowered, and for what the Lord God of Host has done. This Sunday, like Isaiah, we should sing this same song because we are being filled with, and by the Spirit of God who energizes us for the last phase of our preparation and journey this Advent. In appreciation of what God has done for us so far especially on this joyful Sunday, we must pause and say like Isaiah and Mary: “I exult for joy in the Lord, my soul rejoices in my God, for he has cloth me with the garment of salvation…” This is the great joy that Gaudate Sunday provokes; the joy that our salvation is near, that we have been empowered by the Spirit of God to take hold of it, and to make it known to the whole world.

Our second reading is an explicit exaltation from Paul to us especially on this great and joy-filled Sunday of Advent: “Be happy at all times, pray constantly, and for all things give thanks to God…” In this brief exaltation of Paul, we find a wonderful progression. First, it is an exaltation to be happy, joyful and cheerful for the journey so far has been so good, and because, the Lord God of host has refilled, re-energized and empowered us to take hold of our salvation. Second, it is an exaltation to be thankful to God for the journey so far. This is because, “If the Lord had not been on our side (Ps 124, 1), the enemy would have pursued and overtaken us. If the Lord had not been on our side, we would have been no where today! Third, it is an exaltation to “Pray constantly,” to be careful, watchful, vigilant, and in fact, not to lose focus of our destination. Hence, Paul warns us thus: “Never try to suppress or treat the gift of prophecy with contempt.” This is because doing this would be tantamount to refusing or denying the authenticity of what has long been foretold about the birth and the coming of the Messiah to us. This is dangerous and will definitely be counter-productive for our salvation and the efforts we have made so far in our journey this season of Advent.  Therefore, for Gaudate Sunday to be truly meaningful it must provoke a great feeling of joy and thankfulness, while still strongly preserving and keeping us focused on our journey and duty this glorious season of Advent.

Once again, today our gospel revolves round the prophecy and clarion call of the “Prophet of Prophets”, John the Baptist. The major difference between today’s gospel and that of last week rests simply on the fact that they are accounts from different writers Mark and John. Possibly also, because Mark’s version (as is characteristic of his gospel) is shorter than John’s which includes the description of the person of John the Baptist and his discourse with the Pharisees. Apart from these, the message and the clarion call remains basically, functionally and ontologically the same. It is still from: “The voice that cries in the wilderness, Make a straight way for the Lord.” Why is this reading and call being repeated this joyful Sunday, could it be that we did not hear it well last Sunday? Well, if we say it is because, “variety is the spice of life”, we might be a bit correct. However, I do not think that none of the former or even the latter (alone) is the reason. We must note that whenever words and statements are repeated in the bible, in any other literary writing, or even in any circumstance of life, it is for the purpose of laying strong emphasis.

Repeating this gospel and clarion call of John the Baptist after exalting us to be joyful in the first reading, psalm, and in the second reading is not an accident or a mistake. It is rather, an act and the manifestation of the wisdom of the Holy Mother Church who cares for her children. It is here again to remind us that, though we are given a little time today to relax, refresh and rejoice, the clarion call is still sounding as loud as ever: “Make a straight way for the Lord.” In order words, we are not done yet with our preparation. Repeating this clarion call (though from a different version of the gospel) is highly significant because it is a way of keeping us alert so that we do not lose focus of where we are actually heading to: “ It is  NOT Christmas  yet!” It is a way of reminding us that the joy of Gaudate Sunday is only but a tip of the iceberg, and a foretaste of what the fullness of our joy will look like on Christmas day, when we shall embrace Christ – the Cause and Fullness of our Joy.

Finally brethren, as we rejoice today, let us be mindful of, and say a loud amen to the prayer of Paul, who knowing full well that we are still on a journey sums up his exultation to us with a prayer of commendation and hope: “May the God of Peace make you perfect and holy, and may you all be kept safe and blameless…for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…God has called you and he will not fail you.” Surely, he will not fail us until we have seen our salvation and experienced the fullness of our joy who is Christ the King of Glory.  Surely, he will not fail us because: “All the promises of God in him are Yes, and in him Amen, to the glory of God …” (2 Cor 1, 20).

Peace be with You!

Maranatha!!

 

Homily for 2nd Sunday of Advent, Year B

Why, and for What Reason is Jesus Christ Coming?
Readings: (1st: Ish 40, 1-5.9-11: Ps 84, 9-14; 2nd: 2 Pt 3, 8-14; Gos: Mk 1, 1-8)

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 Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

“A voice cries in the wilderness; prepare a way for the Lord. Make a straight way for our God across the desert. Let every valley be filled in, every mountain and hill be laid low…”(Ish 40, 3; Mk 1, 3; Jh 1, 23). On this second week of Advent year B, we continue our waiting and preparation for the Lord’s coming. Today in a special way the church calls us to reflect on the good news that this season brings – that Christ is coming. In light of this, we are also to reflect on the reason for his coming, and most importantly on what we ought to be doing while we wait for him.
Today all our readings focus on the following themes, the imminence of the Lord’s coming and arrival, the need for repentance for the forgiveness of our sins, and of course the need to live saintly, holy and spotless lives. All of these are geared towards making sure that we are fully prepared for the glorious encounter with our Lord and King, Jesus Christ. One important question that we must ask ourselves today is: Why is Christ coming, what are all these talks about his coming for? The answer is simple: He is coming because he loves us, he is coming in order to forgive, console, and to save us, and he is coming to make all things (including us) new. He is not just a busy body who has nothing to do at home and goes about gossiping or mending in other people’s affairs. No, he has a mission and that mission is all about us and our world as the prophet Isaiah gladly informs us today.
In our first reading today, there is a paradigm shift in the prophetic, and prayer  pattern of Isaiah from lamentation and wish, to optimism. He has moved, from, “how I wish that you tear heaven…” to “prepare a way for the Lord… Here is the Lord coming with power…” His prayer of hope last week (1st Sunday of Advent) seems to be materializing and bearing fruits soon. So, he confidently says this week, “console my people, console them…” Last week he lamented and wished that the Lord tears down heaven and come down, but today his tone has changed. He sounds more optimistic and certain like someone who is beginning to see the result of or a response to his previous plea. This is a sign that we are going to make it. Like Isaiah, we too must progress in our journey this Advent. Isaiah’s prophecy today is for all of us a great hope raiser that our salvation is close at hand as we continue to wait and prepare for the Lord’s coming. However, it is not yet over as the fulfillment of this hope still lies in the future, though not too far away from us. So, rather than relaxing, we must heed his call, “prepare in the wilderness a way for the Lord…”
In the second reading, Peter assures us that Christ will certainly come. Once again, like the Prophet Isaiah, he gives a boost to our hope. He encourages us not to lose hope in the prophetic promises about the coming of Christ irrespective of our human reckoning of time which is quite different from God’s. Peter wrote at a time when some people were at the verge of losing their hope in the promise of Christ’s second coming due to the teachings of some false prophets and mockers. Today, Peter makes the following very important points. First, that what we conceive as a long period of time is nothing in God’s time, as there is a difference between God’s time and ours. This is the reason for the popular saying: “God’s time is the best time!” Our human reckoning of time is “Chronos”, which refers to our human sequential time, in which second follows second, minute follows minute, hour follows hour, day follows day, etcetera. This is the type of time is where we live a great deal of our lives, as the clock urges us on to the next scheduled appointment or event. On the other hand, God’s reckoning of time is “Kairos” which signifies a time in between, a moment of undetermined period of time in which something special happens. In other words, kairos points toward a moment when we cease to be conscious of chronos, of the ticking of our man-made clocks, because we are taken up in a special moment that seems almost timeless. While chronos is quantitative, kairos is qualitative. The second, and most important message of Peter to us this Advent revolves round the “The Day of the Lord,” which he warns us comes like a thief. Therefore he reminds us of what we ought to be doing this time around: “You should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and long for the Day…do your best to live lives without spot or stain so that he will find you at peace.” The need to better our lives is the core of Peter’s message to us today. This is the season when we must make every effort to live holy lives, a season we must ask for pardon from God for those times we have not got things right, and a season we must make every effort to reconcile ourselves with God and our neighbour. Living a holy and saintly life means being actively involved in God’s work and with others around us. It is not only a measure of our personal spirituality, but also, a measure of how effective our ministry of prayer, charity, and evangelization, has been.
In the Gospel of this Sunday, John the Baptist like Isaiah brings us the good news about the Lord’s imminent coming. He makes an explicit call to us to repent for the forgiveness of our sins. What is there to repent from? They include, those moments we have denied God through our words and actions, those moments we have failed ourselves and our neighbours, those times we have neglected the good we ought to do, those times we have gossiped and castigated others, those times we have not been true to our selves, God, our neighbours and our country, and those times we have failed to live saintly and holy lives. This Advent is the time to say, God we are sorry, forgive us for we have sinned! This is a very important condition for us to welcome Christ worthily, and this is what the prophets Isaiah, John the Baptist, and the Prince of the Apostles Peter mean respectively by, “preparing a way for the Lord” and “living holy and saintly lives.” If we sincerely repent this season, then the salvation that Jesus brings will be ours, and we will be part of the new generation that he comes to transform and redeem by his love. If we clean up ourselves properly, we need not be afraid of the Day of the Lord, but simply look forward to it with joyful anticipation. Anticipation of the coming of the Lord should not merely inform our manner of life. Rather, it should motivate us to respond with repentance, holy and saintly living, godliness, and of course, joyful expectation of our salvation. Humbly therefore, let us pray with the psalmist today: “Let us see, O Lord your mercy, and give us your saving help”.
Peace be with You!
Maranatha!!