Today’s celebration joins two observances: the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and the suffering and death that followed that. Ordinarily on Sunday, we celebrate and remember the Resurrection of Jesus. But with next Sunday being Easter, the great annual celebration of the Resurrection, this Sunday we prepare to celebrate that resurrection by remembering intensely his Passion and death. Each year, therefore, faithful Catholics will hear the entire account of Jesus’s suffering and death this week and his Resurrection next week. These two celebrations, of the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord, bracket Holy Week. But even if one cannot attend the observances of Holy Week, the Sunday liturgy alone allows us to hear and ponder the entire paschal mystery, which encompasses Jesus’s death and resurrection.READ MORE
The horrendous acts unveiled daily by the media from around the world leave me wondering which century I am living in. To realize that I am living in the 21st century and witnessing what I see and hear makes my bones cringe with fear about man’s grievous inhumanity to man. For long, people have agitated for world peace free of any violence to no avail. It seems that each time one problem is solved, another thousand pop up. Why is man wicked to man, or is it a return to the mentality of the Dark Ages? My answer comes from the realization that a great act of sacrifice was made over two thousand years ago, but the world paid no attention. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was meant to turn the hearts of men and women to God forever. Unfortunately, it is yet to be seen.READ MORE
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” – John 3:16
This Scripture passage from John’s Gospel is a familiar one. Oftentimes, at large public events such as sports games, we can find someone holding up a sign that says, “John: 3:16.” The reason for this is that this passage offers a simple but clear summary of the entire Gospel.
There are four basic truths that we can take from this Scripture. Let’s look at each of them in a brief way.
First, it’s made clear that the Father in Heaven loves us. We know this, but we will never fully comprehend the depth of this truth. God the Father loves us with a profound and perfect love. It’s a love that is deeper than anything else we could ever experience in life. His love is perfect.READ MORE
During one of his papal sermons at the Vatican, Pope Francis urged Christians to make Christ the number one person in their lives. According to the pontiff, “People need to perceive that for that disciple, Jesus is truly ‘Lord,’ he is truly the center of his life, the whole of his life. It does not matter if, like every human person, he has his limits and even his mistakes – provided he has the humility to recognize them.” These words are inspirational at this period of great expectation before the coming of the messiah. We need such swords to encourage us despite the darkness pervading the world. The Christmas season brings us to the reality of God’s inestimable love for his children, the blood of Abraham, our father in faith. Pope Francis, therefore, is right in preaching Christ as the center point of every believer.READ MORE
A lawless society is a cancer to human civilization. During the Stone Age man lived in caves and hunted with spears and arrows with fear ruling the scene. Today, in many spheres of human life, man has progressed tremendously so fear can be replaced with freedom. The reason is that obedience to civil laws is as important as obedience to religious laws to set our lives in an orderly way without hurting us or those in our trust.READ MORE
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the Lenten journey, a period of forty days and forty nights. On that day we received ashes on our foreheads, a reminder that we are dust and unto dust we shall return. If only we could realize how grim life is, we would always be careful to make the right choices in matters of morality, faith, and life generally. For all those wrong choices, we turn to God at this Lenten period to ask for his forgiveness and help as we indulge in prayer, fasting and almsgiving.READ MORE
Our world has witnessed how Ebola and COVID-19 overwhelmed the world’s healthcare system by putting scientists on edge. We have also witnessed how viruses caused the deaths of many in the United State and around the world. Ebola particularly affected countries of Africa such as the Congo, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. COVID-19 is tagged a global pandemic as no nation is spared in terms of infections and deaths. As more research is conducted with 21stcentury technology, we hope that Ebola and COVID-19 will be totally contained like other deadly viruses in the past.READ MORE
While some researchers are concerned about declining church membership all over the United States, I am happy that somebody is being positive for once. The Barna Group (barna.org) conducted their research and determined that Bible reading has increased from 40% in 2000 to 47% in 2006. I am sure the figures for 2014 would have moved up to 51% because as more Christians yearn for the Word of God. Does this not encourage you? However, according to their finding, the number of “churchless” people in the United States in 2014 is enough to make the 8th biggest country in the world with 129 million. Are you not excited yet?READ MORE
St. Augustine is quoted as saying, “The New Testament is hidden in the Old, and the Old Testament is revealed in the New.” As I pondered today’s readings, looking for a theme, I could not shake the notion of prophecy as the theme. These readings sparkle with the connections between prophecy and the fulfillment of the coming of Christ the Messiah. As we look at some of these connections we have to consider, how could anyone not see the fulfillment of Christ in the Gospels.
Let’s begin with the dialogue between Moses and the Lord regarding the message Moses is to give to the Israelites.READ MORE
In last week’s readings the theme was a calling to discipleship. Young Samuel is called by God, and Samuel responds by saying, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” In the Gospel of John, John the Baptist announces Jesus as the Lamb of God, and two of his disciples turn and follow Jesus. In the former, God calls Samuel directly; in the latter the calling is a calling of the heart. Samuel was already serving God by being an acolyte of the priest Eli. The two disciples of John the Baptist were already in a preliminary discipleship. These, you could say, were a calling of the righteous. Yet in the Second Reading last week, St. Paul is calling us to turn away from a material life, a life dominated by the body, an immoral life to a life of the Holy Spirit through whom our bodies have become a temple. There is a noticeable distinction between a calling of the righteous and a calling of sinners. St. Paul’s preaching of repentance, however, connects us to today’s readings, of which the primary theme is repentance, a calling of sinners.READ MORE
“Behold, the Lamb of God.” This is a comforting phrase. It may be the most comforting verse in Scripture, although that is saying a lot. Why is it comforting? Because it speaks to our heart. St. Thomas Aquinas, in many ways, tells us that human nature has an intrinsic desire for God. He derives this from his theology of the soul. Of the noble faculties of the soul is the intellect, and the will. The intellect is constantly seeking what is true and the will is constantly seeking what is good. Together they (we) respond to those things that match this desire in both ways. When something is true, it isn’t necessarily good, but when something is good I can’t imagine it not being true.READ MORE
Pope Francis appoints new Cardinals from around the Catholic world. Appointing a Cardinal in the Catholic Church is a recognition by the Holy Father, which in another way, is a call by God to a higher responsibility. The position is next in rank to that of the pontiff and one can be appointed a pope in the future as well.
As I read the news on Vatican websites, I notice that the appointments are always spread mainly from Catholic populations across the world especially among minorities. For example, Myanmar (also known as Burma) has never had a Cardinal until 2015. Thus, the appointment of Archbishop Charles Maung Bo, the Archbishop of Yangon was meant to enhance the faith of over 700,000 Catholics amid 50 million Burmese of other faiths. While some criticize the appointment of Archbishop Bo because of his age, the Vatican feels that the wisdom of this old man will unite all other faiths in Myanmar and shine the light of Jesus in the region.READ MORE
Every morning as I set out for Mass, many thoughts rise with me from my bed. The faces I see today at morning Mass are the likely faces I will see again tomorrow. They sit down meditating and patiently waiting for Mass to begin. I find this highly encouraging for my ministry, and above all, for my spiritual life. I always remember the admonishment of the Bible which says, ‘Remember your Creator in the days in your youth’ (Ecclesiastes 12:1). It is necessary to use the time at hand to pray and honor God in the hay days of our lives.
Comparing attendance from what I know of Nigeria and here in the USA, the enthusiasm is the same. Catholics love the Eucharist and those who attend do so because of their faith. However, the demographics of those attending daily Masses differ between my previous experience of ministry in Nigeria and what I see here. While in Nigeria, I see faces of all ages attend Mass, here it is the old folks that impress me most in the morning. And this is one big reason which makes my sunrise exciting with joy.
My point is not condemning the younger generation because they have to go to school or work, but in praising the efforts of the older generations for their enthusiasm and commitment to nourishing their Catholic life. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was always found at Mass and her encouraged Catholics to attend every morning before they begin their busy schedules. With the pandemic, we need to be careful about our health. However, we need to have time to pray at Mass.
Sometimes we ask, “how can one become a saint?” Here is a simple answer. The saints were not extraordinary people by the privilege of birth. No, the saints were ordinary people who did the ordinary things of life in extraordinary ways. In doing so, they etched their names on a solid path to sainthood as exemplary people that others can emulate because they struggle against imperfections. In the vision of St. John, the beloved apostle, he saw a multitude of people from every nation, innumerable, and impossible to count. These were people who washed themselves in the ‘blood of the Lamb’ through sacrificing their time for the things of God while they lived in the world. Every the individual is given 24 hours in a day, and the the way these hours are utilized depends on an individual’s time management skills. While few remember that worship is important at the beginning of the day, others are in a rush to finish their to-do lists.READ MORE