Sunday, December 1, 2019
Sunday, October 27, 2019
Friday, October 18, 2019
Saturday, October 12, 2019
Sunday, October 6, 2019
Reflection for 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
(Hab 1:2-3; 2:2-4, 2Tim 1:6-8, 13-14, Lk 17:5-10)
1.0.The Dark Night of Faith
It is not easy to believe and sustain faith. This is because faith is assurance of things not seen or the guarantee of blessings hoped for (Hen 11:1). That is why faith comes as a supernatural gift. It may seem plausible to claim to believe when life is favourable. But with the experience of prophet Habakkuk in the first reading, faith is tested, doubt knocks, and only the one with strong and genuine faith stands. “O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” The echo of the silence of God to the cry of the man faith, vibrates more in the midst of the sound of violence, destruction, strife and contention he perceives. This was the situation the prophet found himself; a test of faith.
The silence of God in the dark night of faith, when It is almost unbelievable to believe, is equally a purifier of faith. “For still the vision awaits its time...if it seem slow, wait for it; it will surely come.” The suspension of God's response to the cry of the man of faith, the elongation of his longing, stretches and strengthens faith, which in turn delivers to him the answers he hoped for at the appropriate time. And this appropriate time of blessing is the now of God. Therefore, whoever does not stand with God now, whose soul is not upright in him shall fail. Such a one cannot possess a faith that can awake from the dark night of faith. “But the righteous shall live by Faith.”
2.0. “Increase our Faith”
This is an all time request! We all need to grow in faith. Faith that is not growing—a faith not watered and fed—withers and dies. Jesus answered, “If you had faith as little as a grain of mustered seed, you could say to this sycamine tree, ‘be rooted up, and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” That means faith increases by being put to action. No matter the size of the faith one possess, if put to use can achieve great results. Faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26).
3.0. Servants of Faith
Jesus describes how we ought to carry out the works of faith so as to grow in faith and receive our daily bread. It is like a servant, who goes about his assigned duties without expecting compensation or reward. He focuses solely on executing his duties, and ensuring his master is satisfied. So this servant places himself at the disposal of his master. He gets his food and drink afterwards, at the appropriate time, which is the time determined by the master, not the servant. “So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
Such a servant, by carrying out his mere duties, has elevated his faith above his hunger or problems, and placed It in the person of his master. Total abandonment or resignation to the will of God is what the saints used to describe such a faith. The righteous shall live by Faith!
The servants of faith do not trust in their endurance or hard work, but in the good pleasure of the Master. The silence of the dark night of faith surfaces as the servant is tossed from one job to another with any intermediary appreciation or reward. However, the master's good pleasure awaits him. His dedication to duty and perseverance become a sort of platform through which he receives his food and drink at the favourable time, which is the time allotted by the master.
Jesus is the Master of our faith. The appropriate time for our daily bread is the now of God. Let us rekindle the gift of faith, and put to action all that our faith in Christ Jesus demands of us. “Your perseverance will win you your lives” (Lk 21:19).
Fr Jude Chinwe Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
SsPeter and Paul Catholic Church
Sunday October 6th, 2019.
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
Reflection for 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C
(Amos 6:1, 4-7; 1Tim 6:11-16; Lk 16:19-31)
The prophet of Social justice, Amos, comes again this Sunday. This time he criticizes not those who oppress the poor but ‘those who are at ease in Zion, who drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with finest oils but are not grieved over the ruins of Joseph!’ Indifference in the face of hardship, either collective or individual, is what Prophet Amos spoke against today. St Paul writes to Timothy about eternal wealth one should acquire, while Jesus presents the pathetic story of the rich man and Lazarus.
2.0. The Man on Fine Linen
The rich man enjoyed his wealth lavishly. He was so protective of himself that he wanted to savour all the pleasures in his earnings. He secured himself with dogs! But he lived in internal insecurity since he felt sharing his food would reduce his enjoyment. Thus he hardened his heart, locked himself up in his world of affluence, and would never notice the wretched Lazarus at his gate. He denied God as His provider, made himself the giver and sole user of his wealth. His indifference to God played out in His neglect of poor Lazarus. Though he dressed in fine linen, the sore-ridden body of Lazarus exposed his naked heart. He denied himself the link he had with Lazarus as neighbour, and created an artificial barrier for his advantage. At last, this rich man died, left all the wealth behind, and landed in hell.
3.0. The Man at the Gate
“And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, full of sores...” The situation of this poor man is scary! No one would ever desire to be in his shoe. It was as if he was abandoned by both God and man; his only companions were dogs, which increased his agony. Still he was at the Gate of his blessings! All that Lazarus prayed for were abundantly in the rich man's house. However, since he was God's friend, why didn't heaven intervene directly, at least to heal his sores? Here lies the mystery...
Yes, God answered his prayer. All that Lazarus desired, God gave him through the rich neighbour. So he came to the Gate of his blessing, the rich man locked him out with the key of indifference. However, Lazarus accepted all these with patience as his lot. His self resignation to the will of God in his suffering was a heroic virtue, which earned him a place in Abraham's bosom. Being poor in itself is not an automatic ticket to heaven.
4.0. Wealth for the Rich and Poor
Now we see in Lazarus the image of Jesus, who accepted suffering as the will of God. But the rich man, in his arrogance and pride, scorned God the giver of every good gift, and there was not the image of Christ Jesus in Him. Hence, St Paul in the second reading speaks of eternal virtues, which all should acquire in order to take hold of the eternal life to which we were called. “O man of God, aim righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.” It was because the rich man was poor in these virtues that he landed in hell, while the poor man Lazarus was rich in these virtues that he rested in heaven.
5.0. The Man from the Dead
The rich man had five brothers who inherited his life of indifference to the needy. From his hell of pain he got no comforter, and he begged, “If someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” Like Lazarus, all that the rich man asked for in Hades were given to him on earth but he neglected them. He placed barriers between him and Lazarus, and this became impassable chasm in the next world. He denied Lazarus food and drink, and he got no water to quench his throat. He requested for preachers of conversion from the dead, and now, Jesus, the first born from the Dead, fulfils every prophecy and inspires contrition of heart.
These series of complaint and requests from the rich man contrasts with the silence of Lazarus. The poor and lowly are usually the voiceless in every society but Heaven speaks for them and defends their course. The One Man from the Dead, Jesus Christ, brings good news to the poor, which includes those that are poor in virtue. In fact the real calamity is lack of love. Such virtue become a sort of “gate of blessing” where the rich come down to, and the poor go up to. Here both the rich and poor enjoy well-being, and have place in Abraham's bosom.
Fr Jude Chinwe Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church,
Ira-Nla, Lekki, Lagos.
Sunday, September 29th, 2019.
Tuesday, September 17, 2019
In any case, there are usually great crowd of mourners who ‘celebrate’ our hopeless, trying to give us courage to stay put and accept the hopeless situation. Thus the crowd accompanied the woman out of the city. Then they met Jesus at the gate! Without invitation, He was moved to compassion. He saw the hopelessness of the woman, who was so devastated that she could not even ask for help! This usually the case when one feels all hope is lost. Jesus stopped the procession and said, “Young man, I say to you arise.” The boy was restored to life immediately...Encountering Jesus at the gate changed the whole situation.
Fr Jude Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Ss Peter & Paul Catholic Church
Tuesday September 17th, 2019.