Igbo Catholic Community

Category: Parish Priest

The Assurance of Rest a Promise of God Even in the Mist of Doubts

The Assurance of Rest a Promise of God Even in the Mist of Doubts

The origin of our being as human beings is without our contributions thus our being is only a gift from our maker. In his omniscience and omnipotence he created us and more importantly in his own image, thus as the book of Genesis stated “in his own image he created us male and female and God looked and saw that all he created is good.” Therefore we are “from God” as we share his being through creation, but “becoming of God” is our responsibility as we make free choices between good and negation of good. Therefore our becoming of God consummates our emanation from God.

This God is the source of all good, and he also thinks good of his creation and assures us of enriching us if we walk in his path (becoming of God). Therefore this God must be of justice if he holds us accountable for all that we do. In a simple term that if we do our path of becoming of his, and then his assurances will equal our choice/responsibility. Every day we are challenged to question the omniscience and justice of God as we confront our difficulties. Why would a barren woman for 14 years who later became pregnant but only to die while delivery the baby. Where is this justice that operates on the guidance of omniscience? Why would a woman who has married for many years, had problem with conceiving a child, decides to adopt three children with the husband, only for the husband to be sick which puts him on permanent disability, and more so the wife just found out that she herself has stage 4 cancer thus has few months to live. Where is the assurance of good for becoming of his and what is the justice for the children whose aye moment is suddenly cut off? (Yes indeed but his justice is built in his mercy as his wisdom goes beyond the empirical. we are called not only to do good but to be of good).

The conflicts of why, how, what and when are not parallel to human nature, but the wisdom of understanding these conflicts is only a gift of faith, hope and consistence of character since in the words of

“the devil knows that when he weakens our faith, replaces our hope with despair we will seize to praise God, we live to die hopelessly and we question the truth of God’s assurance of his ever abiding love.”

monsignor Nworgu A

The faithfulness of God lies on the appointed time of His operation, since his ways are not ours, he takes care of the cause and effects and not just the symptoms, he heals and restores permanently since his being is whole. Everything will pass away but none of his words passes away without fulfilment but only in the minds of the faithful and life of the hopeful with consistency of character.

Life without hope is life without faith, life without faith is life without God and the consequence of this is lifelessness, whereas the reverse of these weapons of destruction is the assurance that through him, with him, and in him we are conquerors. If only we can solve the indefinite problems of why, what, where, and when, we would have made our custom choices but again our human limitations would have caged our choices to less than a perfect one. Unlike us, God is omnipotent and omniscience thus his choice is summa perfectissimus. The substance of our being is divine not even the theory of the big band would contradict this therefore the knowledge of who we are and what we are made of stands as the unlocking master key to life of faith that stimulates life of hope which brings us to the believe in the supremacy of God’s will and his eternal love to us. The problem of “ I” is that you are alone and your strength comes from you alone but to let go allows you to submit your inability to God who takes over while you rest. The unacceptance of the limitation of our knowledge inhibits our experience of the omniscience and omnipotence of God. When we give total submission he takes whole control thus providence and assurance become his responsibilities not ours. . It takes cause and effect for this to be a reality, if we submit totally, then he makes all things new and the burden light for he is faithfully indefinite. Thus “come to me all you labor and are overburdened and I will give you rest.”

The Wrong type of Kindness (Dr. Erasmus Okere)

The Wrong type of Kindness (Dr. Erasmus Okere)

It is hard to find more vivid character drawing greater economy of words than we find in today’s gospel showing serious clash of temperaments and the wrong type of kindness. Two sisters – Martha and Mary represent two different approaches to Jesus. One remarkable difference between the two sisters was that Martha wanted Jesus to listen to her, while Mary wanted to listen to Jesus. These two characters not only draw the values of both contemplative and active spirituality but underline the positive blend of both in our ‘techno-crazy’ environments.
We identify with Martha when we have work to do, problems on our mind, things to finish before we can relax. When we try to pray, our minds spin with a dozen distractions. We remember a phone call we should make, something we need to get at the store, a task that just can’t wait. And – God forgive us – like Martha we sometimes put down the “Mary’s”: “It must be nice. Look at all the stuff I have to do. I wish I could get a break.”
Fair enough, but that’s not the point. All of us know deep down that the best gift we can give to someone is not large sums of money or a delicious meal. That would be wonderful, but we want something more. When you and I think about our lives, we recognized that the best gift someone ever gave us was this: open-ended, undistracted listening. That is the gift Mary gave to Jesus. Martha was busy doing something for Jesus – and, to accomplish it, she wanted Jesus to listen to her. Mary on the other hand, just wanted to listen to Jesus. “Mary,” said Jesus, “has chosen the better part.”

In our human relationships (friend to friend, husband to wife, parent to child) we can easily recognize the power of open-ended, undistracted listening. Something similar applies to prayer. Jesus has all the time in the world to listen to you or me. He comes from the point of view of eternity, which by definition is undivided and perfectly open-ended. The problem is not on Jesus’ side. He can listen to each one, all day and all night. The problem is on our side. We are reluctant to do what Mary did – to put aside other activities and to listen. Recognizing the fact that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem- to die and atone for our sins, his whole being was taken up with the intensity of the inner battle to bend his will to the will of God. Jesus’ visit to the home in Bethany recaptures every moment we spend with him, where Jesus seeks to find an oasis of calm away from the demanding crowds. Martha in her kindness destroyed what Mary so generously gave. One of our great challenges in life is our approach to be kind to people in our own way. We need periods of quiet prayer in our lives if we are to keep our balance and perspective in life. We can get so much involved in what we are doing that we forget why we are doing it. We can get so involved in living that we forget the purpose of living. We can get so involved in pursuing the things money can buy that we forget about the things money can’t buy. It is this kind of mistake that Martha made in today’s gospel. She got so much involved in cooking a meal for Jesus that she forgot why Jesus came. He didn’t come for a meal, rather he came to be with friends.

Based on Sunday readings of July 17th 2016

“When God Calls” Part II (Dr. Erasmus Okere)

“When God Calls” Part II (Dr. Erasmus Okere)

“They will live secure, for from then on he will extend his power to the ends of the land. He himself will be peace”. Micah 5:4.

The world rests upon three things: upon truth, upon justice and upon peace. The triad absolutely dissolve into one, for when justice is done, the truth becomes an actuality and peace a reality. When Christ came into the world, angels sang about peace; and when he went out of the world, peace was bequeathed. Peace therefore takes its locus where there is harmony between two opposed factions.

Peace is a climate in which every person and every group of persons can live the fullness of life that God intended for us when he created us. Peace isn’t merely the absence of war, and isn’t limited to maintaining a balance of powers between adversaries. It is “the tranquility of order”; it
is the work of justice and the effect of charity (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2304).

The followers of Christ are called and empowered, not only to personalize the peace of Christ but also to be messengers of peace, in every way possible, especially by working for a just world order. Peace demands a mentality and a spirit which, before turning to others, must first permeate him who wishes to bring peace. Peace is first and foremost personal, before it is social. It is precisely this spirit of peace which it is the duty of every follower of Christ to cultivate.

Today’s Gospel (LK 10:1-12, 17-20) and the other readings tell us that we too have the task to proclaim the Kingdom. Like those seventy-two persons we too are called to proclaim that the Kingdom of God is at hand, and this has to be done through our lives. It is necessary for us, therefore, to lend a listening ear to the sick and lonely, helpless, young and elderly and give them that consolation and healing. We have to give them the peace of Jesus.

The call of Jesus continues to come to us even today in our families, social and religious
associations and our task as Christians is to be bringers of peace to everyone we meet and everything we do – “LORD MAKE ME A CHANNEL OF YOUR PEACE.” Of course, we need that peace and inner security within ourselves first of all. It is a peace that a close following of Jesus can bring. It is a peace that our conventional society, wracked as it is with so many externally-caused stresses and fears and ambitions, seldom seems to know. Let Peace be our greeting and Peace be our hallmark. Peace is the sign of the presence of God’s kingdom. Igbo na-asi “UDO KA NMA”. May the God of peace be in our hearts and in our homes today and every day.

UDO NKE CHINEKE DIRI UNU NILE!

Based on Sunday readings of July 3rd 2016

“When God Calls” Part I (Dr. Erasmus Okere)

“When God Calls” Part I (Dr. Erasmus Okere)

Following Jesus will cost me.I am called to live by the spirit and not gratify the desires of the flesh. Today, the church calls us to be totally committed to Christ. Without “Looking back,” we must freely “slaughter” all the forces, distractions, and obstacles that prevent us from serving the Lord well.

In the first reading, (1 KGS 19:16B, 19-21) the call of Elisha and his response was a dramatic event. Elisha demonstrated a total commitment to his call. The slaughtering of his oxen, the kissing of his father, and the bidding of farewell to his men, were all symbolic gestures that he had freely accepted his call. It was a sign of total submission to the will, and call of God over his own will. It was also an indication that he loved God more than his business, and his own self. The slaughtering of his oxen is very significant for us today. He “killed and abandoned everything” that could have become an obstacle to his decision to serve God in the future. Also, he overcame the temptation to keep them. This was the proof of his total committed to God. What have we sacrificed, and what is our proof of it?

In the second reading, (GAL 5:1, 13-18) Paul reminds us of the freedom we have in Christ. This freedom is for a purpose. It liberates us from the things that enslave us in order to be committed to Christ. It is not freedom to indulge in vain acts, or what Paul calls “self-indulgence.” It is not freedom to become inactive. Instead, it is freedom to follow and serve the Lord. This freedom binds us to Christ. It is a freedom that permits us to submit to Christ, and to surrender all to Him.

The gospel (LK 9:51-62)brings us to the apogee of this total commitment to the Lord. Christ knew and saw the weakness of the young men who wished to follow him. He knew their struggles, as well as their distractions. They had “genuine intentions as well as excuses” as most of us often do. They wanted to follow Christ, yet they were not ready to make the sacrifice.

So seeing their predicament, Christ addressed them: “Once the hand is laid on the plough, no one who looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

(Gen 19, 26) and Judas Iscariot into a traitor. It represents all unnecessary attachments. It does not permit us to make God’s call through his Son Jesus Christ, a permanent experience in our lives. One of the greatest obstacles we have today as Christians is that “our oxen” are still alive. Although we are professed Christians, our oxen are still hidden somewhere in the fabrics of our life. They represent old habits and mundane things that we are still strongly attached to. We must “slaughter” them as a sign of our total commitment to Jesus Christ or, our attention will remain divided because: “You cannot serve God and Marmon at the same time” (Lk 16, 13).The church, therefore, calls us to be totally committed to Christ. Like Elisha, we must “slaughter all the forces, obstacles, and vices such as: envy, jealousy, pride, peddling rumors, character assassination, selfishness, materialism, immorality, and old bad habits. These make it hard for us to be committed to Christ. Then, we can confidently say to Christ: “O Lord, you are my portion and cup” because, we have freely offered all for his sake. If we are committed to the Lord, He will definitely show us the part of life. As a working tool in the hands of God, remember that the work is the Lord’s, therefore, as you do the work of the Lord, never forget the Lord of the work. Have a blessed week ahead.

Based on Sunday readings of June 26th 2016

The father is the “priest” of the home (Dr. Erasmus Okere)

The father is the “priest” of the home (Dr. Erasmus Okere)

The Igbo Catholic Community heartily congratulates all our fathers and wish you a happy fathers’ day! We are proud for your inestimable commitment, support and love on your families and our church. We pray God to grant you the blessings and wisdom you need to remain the awesome dads you have been.
What Jesus says in (Mtt.9:36), is true of many men today: we are “troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd”. When a man would rather spend time on things that never add up to the wellbeing of the family or “hanging out with the fellas” than have any meaningful relationship with his wife and children, he is lost. When a man loses the sense of fairness, compassion, responsibility and respect for his wife and children, he is lost. When a man under the influence of jealousy, selfishness, indolence, drugs or alcohol humiliates and beats his wife, passing on a legacy of violence and abuse to his children, he is lost.

Just as Jesus called laborers into the field to reap an abundant harvest of souls, He calls husbands and fathers who are lost to use the navigational tools of prayer, forgiveness, and mercy to find our way back to our Father in heaven. Just as Jesus called men to the priesthood to serve His Bride the Church, the same Jesus calls men through baptism to be priests of the domestic church, the church of the home. A husband and father should exercise his priestly ministry through “the offering he makes of himself and his daily activities. “You husbands must live with your wives with the proper understanding that they are more delicate than you. Treat them with respect, because they also will receive, together with you, God’s gift of life. Do this so that nothing will interfere with your prayers (1Peter3:7).

This offering should be united to Christ’s offering in the Eucharist “for their work, prayers, and apostolic endeavors, their ordinary married and family life, their daily labor, their mental and physical relaxation, if carried on in the spirit–and even the hardships of life, if patiently borne–all of these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”. The main job of the priest is to offer sacrifice, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should lead fathers to intimate and personal relationship with God, uniting him so closely to Christ that the Eucharist becomes the very soul and center of his spiritual and family life.

The priest of the home must accept the responsibility of living “the Gospel in faith and proclaiming it in word and deed, without hesitating to identify and denounce evil.” Catholic parents are the primary and indispensable catechists of their own children. Fathers are not only called to preach the Gospel but also, and above all, to live the Gospel by setting a good example for their children. If our children see us living the Catholic faith with fidelity and joy, then we can be sure that our example will be worth more than a thousand words and have confidence that our love for Christ will be written into the hearts of our sons and daughters. When we do this, the Catholic faith will become more than a fond memory that fades with time. A father’s living witness to covenant intimacy will become his enduring legacy, a precious gift for his children, and a sure sign of hope in God’s endless mercy and love. Wishing you a renewed vigor in service to God and family, as you enjoy the dignity of fatherhood.