Homily For 30th Sunday Of Ordinary Time, Year A

Love: The Vertical and Horizontal Dimensions

Readings: 1st: Ex 22, 20-26; Ps 17, 2-4. 47. 51; 2nd: 1Thes 1, 5-10; Gos: Mt 22, 34-40

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 with the Spiritan International Group of Puerto Rico &  Dominican Republic. He is the Administrator of Parroquia La Resurrección del Senor, Canovanas and the Chancellor of the Diocesis of Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. For more details and comments contact him on:  canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com. 

Today is the thirtieth Sunday of ordinary time. Today, the church reminds us of the most important theological virtue, love. In a most special way, Jesus gives us the two dimensions of love. The vertical, love of God, and the horizontal, love of neighbor. When these are perfectly lived, a Christian can conveniently say, I have lived well.

In the first reading of today, through Moses, God warns us: “You must not oppress the stranger or molest him…not be harsh with the widow or with orphans.” Of course, God reminds us that such acts would attract his wrath upon the oppressor. Therefore, the lesson here is that we must treat others justly and with love. God hates oppression and injustice especially, against the weak, the poor and the defenseless.

In the second reading, Paul reminds the Thessalonians community of their former status as pagans, and how they were librated through the power of the good news. Their liberation was a sign of God’s love for them. Their acceptance of the good news was equally a sign of their love for God. Thus, Paul praised their effort and encouraged them to endure in love until the coming of the Lord.

In today’s gospel, the Pharisees posed Christ another “difficult” question: “Master, which is the greatest commandment of the Law?” As usual, this was in in order to test him. A close look at Jesus’ response today, reveals that Jesus presents us with, first the vertical dimension of love: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your soul….” It is important to note that to love God with one’s body and soul requires a lot of sacrifice, and humility. To love God is the most important perquisite of being like him.

The second dimension of love is the horizontal: “You must love your neighbour as yourself?” This is more difficult than the first. This is because, we neglect and take it for granted. This is, by thinking that we can love God alone without loving our neighbors.

Hence, Christ reminds us that: “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1Jn 4, 20). So, the best way of expressing our love for God is through our neighbors. We must affect others positively in order to love God well.

Therefore, in talking of love, charity must begin at home, with your neighbour, with your friends and those around you. Saint Augustine admonishes us; “…Love, and do whatever you will. Whether you hold your peace, through love hold your peace; whether you cry out, through love cry out; whether you correct, through love correct; whether you spare, through love you must spare. Let the root of love be within, of this root can nothing spring but what is good.” This is absolutely right because, it is through our neighbors that we worship and love God. When we find God, we find our own peace and love.

Finally, those who choose to live in peace must help their neighbors to live in peace. Those who choose to live well, must help others to live well too. The value of one’s life is measured by the lives it touched positively. So, with the psalmist, let us proclaim: “I love you Lord, my strength.”

Peace be with you all!

Maranatha!

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Homilia Para El Vigésimo Noveno Domingo Del Tiempo Ordinario, Año A

Domingo Mundial De Las Misiones (Domingo De Domund)

Lecturas: 1ra: Is 45, 1. 4-6; Sal 95, 3-5. 7-10 2da: I Tes 1, 1-5; Ev: Mt 22, 15-21 

Esta breve reflexión fue escrita por el Reverendo Padre Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. Él es un sacerdote católico y un miembro de la Congregación de los Padres y Hermanos del Espíritu Santo (Espirítanos). Él está trabajando con el Grupo Internacional Espirítano De Puerto Rico y República Dominicana. Él es el administrador de la Parroquia La Resurrección del Señor, Canóvanas y el Canciller de la Diócesis de Fajardo-Humacao, Puerto Rico. Para más detalles y comentarios se puede contactarlo encanice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, cancilleriadfh@gmail.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com

¿Cómo podrán creer si no han oído hablar de él? ¿Y cómo oirán si no hay quien lo proclame? ¿Y cómo lo proclamarán si no son enviados? Como dice la escritura: “Que hermosa son los pies de los que traen buenas noticias.” (Ro 10, 14-15).

Hoy, el vigésimo noveno domingo del tiempo ordinario es Domingo mundial de las misiones o, mejor dicho, Domingo de Domund. Hoy muchas personas todavía no han conocido a Cristo. Por esta razón, la misión ad gentes continua a ser más urgente. Todos miembros de la Iglesia están llamados a participar en esta misión. Hoy es un momento privilegiado cuando los fieles de distintos o varios continentes se reúnen en oración y gestos concretos de la solidaridad en apoyo de las iglesias jóvenes en las tierras misioneras.

Es una celebración de la gracia porque, el Espiritu Santo enviado por el Padre, se ofrece sabiduría y fuerza a los que son obedientes a su acción. Es una celebración de gozo porque, Jesucristo, el hijo del padre, enviado por evangelizar el mundo apoya y acompañe nuestro esfuerzo misionero (Papa Francisco).

En la primera lectura de este domingo, Dios lo hizo clara su elección de Israel. En una manera sorpresa también, Dios reveló su elección de un rey extranjero (Cyrus), a quien el profeta Isaías se refirió como, “instrumento ungido de Dios.” La elección de este rey pagano como su ungido era por un propósito. Esto era para proclamar el nombre de Dios entre todas las naciones.

Por tanto, como tanto Cyrus y Israel, Dios nos ha elegido. Nos a elegido a ser parte se ese mismo proyecto, que es: “Para que sepan de oriente a occidente que no hay otro fuera de mí.” Esta es una llamada a todo el pueblo de Dios, para irse y proclamar la buena noticia hasta los confines del mundo. Es decir, desde norte a sur, y desde oeste a este

En la segunda lectura, Pablo y sus compañeros rezaron por la iglesia de los tesalonicenses. Han predicado la buena nueva allá, pero se conocieron que solo oración puede sostener sus obras. Así que, se conocieron la importancia de la oración en la misión. Por tanto, es importante que nos oramos por los misioneros como el santo papa recuerda hoy.

Estamos llamados a jugar el mismo papel significante de la santa Teresa de Jesús. Ella nunca fue para ninguna misión extranjera. Sin embargo, era ferviente in su oración para el éxito de los misioneros. Hoy, ella se la patrona de los misioneros. Pablo realizó la importancia de la oración para el éxito de su misión, y por eso pidió: “Oren también por me, que me puedo predicar la buena nueva con elocuencia y sin miedo (Ef 6: 19-20).

En el evangelio de hoy los fariseos buscaban una manera par descreditar el mensaje de Cristo. Esto evangelio nos recuerda una realidad bien importante que cada misionero enfrenta. Los detractores y las dificultades son inevitables en la misión. Así que, los fariseos en el evangelio de hoy represente los diferentes obstáculos que un misionero debe enfrentar a lo largo de su trabajo. Se vienen de diferentes formas. Vienen como pruebas, varias formas de tentaciones, dudas, persecuciones, amenaza a la vida, calumnia, y alienación o soledad aun en medio de la gente.

Por tanto, vencer todo esto y ser exitoso especialmente en el mundo de hoy en día, un misionero debe “ser sabio como serpiente y manso como un pájaro” (Mt 10, 16). Debe ser un hombre de oración y mucha fe. Debe aprender vivir solo con Dios porque, Dios estaré ahí todo tiempo con y para él, pero los seres humanos no estarán disponibles para el todo tiempo. Un misionero debe hacer el Espiritu Santo su maestro y compañero porque, él es el agente principal de la misión como Cristo nos promete: “El Abogado te ensañará todo…no preocúpense ante mano como defenderse. Te daré las palabras y la sabiduría que ningún de sus adversarios podría resistir o contradecir” (Lc 21: 14-16). Un misionero no debe ser contralado o dirigido por el amor del mundo como Dimas que abandonó a Pablo por el amor de este mundo (2 Tim 4:9). Al contrario, debe ser dirigido por el amor de Dios y por su pueblo.

Por último, un misionero debe estar listo todo momento para sacrificar y rendar todo (incluso su vida) por missio Dei (la misión de Dios). La alegría de ser un misionero no viene actualmente de cuantos regalos materiales que uno recibe. Al contrario, viene de cuántas vidas que uno toca, y cuanta alegría que él puede traer a los demás. Viene también de, cuanto amor que el puede comunicar a otros a través del evangelio. ¡La paz sea con ustedes! ¡Maranatha!

Homily For 29th (Mission)Sunday Of Ordinary Time, Year A  

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. 

Back On This Mission!

Greetings, and happy Mission Sunday dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Before today’s homily (below), please permit me to bother you a little by explaining the reason for my “supposedly leave of absence” here.

I am sure you have been wondering why I have not posted or updated for the past one month or so. Well, the reason is obvious. As you know, I am a missionary in Puerto Rico (Caribbean Island – Central or Latin America). Unfortunately, we were hit twice by two deadly hurricanes. First, on the 6th of September, 2017, we suffered from Hurricane Irma which left part of the Island devastated including the region where I work, (San Isidro Canovanas, in the North East of Puerto Rico).

While we were recovering from the effect of Irma, on 20th September, 2017 (just about 2 weeks later), came the monstrous hurricane Maria which destroyed and grounded virtually everything in the Island. Electricity, communication (telephone, internet, radio TV etc.) systems, water systems, transport and logistics, infrastructures and business were all knocked out 100% leaving the Island on a stand still. As I write right now, there is no electricity (water and combustibles are still scarcely available and expensive) in the entire Island, and we are only hoping that by December or January it would be restored at least, reasonably.

My parish was affected seriously, and most of my parishioners were rendered homeless and left with nothing. So, we have been working as hard as we could, and aided by the grace of God, in order to heal and rebuild our lives here both spiritually and physically. I must confess that it has not been funny and easy here, but like Paul: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies” (2 Cor 4: 8-10). Keep praying for us, and if you are touched and would like to help us in any little way, please feel free to mail me at: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com Thanks, and Peace be with you.

World Mission Sunday

Readings: 1st: Is 45, 1. 4-6; Ps 95, 3-5. 7-10 2nd: I Thes 1, 1-5; Gos: Mt 22, 15-21

 “How can they believe, if they have not heard the message? How can they hear, if the message is not proclaimed? How can the message be proclaimed, if the messengers are not sent out? How wonderful is the feet of the preachers of the good news!” (Ro 10:14ff).

Today, the 29th Sunday of ordinary time is World Mission Sunday. Today vast numbers of people still do not know Christ. For this reason, the mission ad gentes continues to be most urgent. All the members of the Church are called to participate in this mission. Today is a privileged moment when the faithful of various continents engage in prayer and concrete gestures of solidarity in support of the young Churches in mission land.

It is a celebration of grace, because the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father, offers wisdom and strength to those who are obedient to his action. It a celebration of joy, because Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, sent to evangelize the world, supports and accompanies our missionary efforts (Pope Francis).

In the first reading of this Sunday, God makes clear his choice of Israel. In a most surprising way too, he makes known his choice of a foreign king (Cyrus), whom Isaiah referred to as “God’s anointed instrument.” His choice of this “Pagan king” as his anointed was for a purpose. This was in order to make known His name among other nations.

Therefore, like both Cyrus and Israel, God has chosen us. He has called us to be part of this same project, which is: “that men may know from the rising to the setting of the sun that, apart from me, all is nothing.” This is a call to all God’s people, to go and make Him known to the ends of the earth. That is, from North to South, and from East to West.

In the second reading of today, Paul, and his companions prayed for the church of Thessalonica. They have preached the good news there, but they knew that only prayer can sustain their work. So they know the importance of prayer in mission. Therefore, it is important we continue to pray for missionaries as the Holy Father reminds us today.

We are called to play the same significant role played by St. Theresa of the Child Jesus. She never went on any foreign mission. Yet, she was fervent in her prayers for the success of missionaries. Today she is the patron saint of missionaries. Paul realized the importance of prayers for the success of his mission, so he pleaded: “Pray also for me, that I may be bold in speaking about the gospel as I should” (Eph 6, 19-20).

In today’s gospel, the Pharisees were looking for a way to discredit Christ’s message. This gospel reminds us of a very important reality that every missionary face. In as much as we preach the good news, detractors and difficulties abound. Hence, the Pharisees in today’s gospel represent the different obstacles a missionary must encounter in the course of his work. They come in different shapes and forms. They come like tests, various forms of temptations, doubts, persecutions, threats to life, calumny, and alienation or loneliness, even in the midst of people.

Therefore, for a missionary to overcome all these and be successful especially in today’s world, he or she must be as wise as a serpent and yet as gentle as a dove (Mt 10:16). He must a man of prayer and strong faith. He must learn to live a alone with God because, God will always be there for him, but men will not. A missionary must make the Holy Spirit his teacher and partner because, he is the principal agent of mission as Christ promised: “The Advocate will teach you everything…Do not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” (Jn 14:26; Lk 21, 14-16). He must not be driven by the love of this world like Dimas, who abandoned Paul for the love of this world (2Tim 4:9). Rather, he must be driven by love for God and for His people.

Finally, a missionary must be ready at all times to sacrifice and surrender all (including his life) for God’s mission. The joy of being a missionary does not actually come from how much material gifts one receives. Rather, it comes from how much lives one touches, and how much joy one is able to bring to others. It also comes from, how much love he is able to communicate to others through the gospel.

Peace be with you all!!

Maranatha!!!