Friday, September 24, 2021

“YET NOW TAKE COURAGE”

Meditation for Friday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time
(Haggai 2:1-9; Lk 9:18-22)

Prophet Haggai continues to address Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah concerning the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. He reminded them of the former glory of the Temple before it was destroyed during the exile. Now that they rebuilt their individual homes and settled down, they should be courageous to work on the temple. “Yet now take courage, O Zerubbabel, says the Lord…take courage, all you people of the land, says the Lord; work, for I am with you, says the Lord of hosts, according to the promise that I made you when you came out of Egypt.” The prophet encouraged them strongly to work on the temple, saying that God’s presence would be with them. The Lord promised to bring to them the treasures of the nations, “And I will fill this house with splendor, says the Lord of hosts.” The temple shall have a greater splendor than in the former days, “And in this place I will give prosperity, says the Lord of hosts.”

Often times we understand and describe God according to the manifestation of His power or the blessings we have received. Those enjoyed the teachings of Jesus would compare Him to John the Baptist; those who witnessed his miracles would call Him another Elijah or one of the great prophets. But the mystery of God that saves is given by revelation. Our experiences and knowledge of God must surrender to divine revelation. At the realm of divine revelation experience becomes worship, and knowledge becomes contemplation! 

After Peter answered through revelation that Jesus is “The Christ of God”, He began to reveal to them that, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” This is the real manifestation of God that should form their knowledge of God and of the Christ. The ‘erection of the Cross’ fulfilled the promises God made through Haggai about the temple. And the knowledge and experience of the Cross encompasses and fulfills the great works of the prophets, but goes further to draw us to contemplation and worship. “Yet now take courage” and embrace the Cross of Jesus, for on it God gives prosperity and heavenly treasures. Amen.

Our Lady of Ransom, pray for us. Amen.

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos.
Friday September 25th, 2021.
www.soundofsilence.ng
www.nwachinwe.blogspot.com

“CONSIDER HOW YOU HAVE FARED”

Meditation for Thursday of the 25th Week in Ordinary Time
(Haggai 1:1-8; Lk 9:7-9)

Haggai prophesied after the Israelites returned from exile, when Zerubbabel was governor of Judah. As the people rebuilt their homes and settled down, they folded their arms against the holy temple. The Lord send prophet Haggai to ask them: “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins?” The prophet explained that they needed the temple for the glory of God to dwell among them and bless their labors with fruitfulness. “Consider how you have fared. You have sown much, and harvested little…Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may appear in my glory, says the Lord.”

But in Jesus Christ the glory of God took its permanent abode among us. The Body of Christ became the perfect Temple; the presence of Christ is the manifestation of God, bringing to us all the heavenly blessings. Jesus brought good news and joy to those believe in Him and abide in Him. So, we ask Herod the Tetrarch, just as Haggai asked the Israelites, “Consider how you have fared?” 

Herod was perplexed at hearing about all that Jesus did: casting out demons, healing the sick, preaching the good news of the Kingdom. Herod lived the opposite: he brought fear and imprisonment to the free, sickness to the healthy, and death to the living! Definitely, he cannot be free in the presence of Jesus. Think about that life style that makes it difficult for us to spend few minutes before the Blesses Sacrament, discourages us from going to Confession or even to concentrate in our prayers. There is that little taste of pleasure that makes our hearts shiver at the mere thought of prayer! There ‘Herodic’ dispositions want us to dwell comfortably in our selfish panel houses while neglecting our abode in the Body of Christ, where we are blessed and covered with the glory of God.

St Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for us! Amen.


Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos.
Thursday September 23rd, 2021.
www.soundofsilence.ng
www.nwachinwe.blogspot.com

Sunday, September 19, 2021

THE BATTLE OF THE RIGTHEOUS

Meditation for 25TH Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
(Wis 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16-4:3; Mk 9:30-37)

1.0.         THE MOTIONS OF EVIL

By its very existence, evil opposes good; evil fights for dominance and survival by trying to overcome the good. Still, it is this very battle to suppress the good that destroys evil and exalts the good. In other words, evil is self-defeating! This internal struggle of self-defeating and self-survival makes evil restless. So, evil finds itself sentenced by the peace and silence of the good. That is why it falsely approaches the good with aggression, blaming the good for its self-defeat and self-destruction. But evil cannot overcome the good because the good exists, and on its own, while evil’s existence is ‘the opposition of the good.’ That is why St Augustine said that EVIL IS A PRIVATION.

Therefore, those who harbor evil intents such as jealousy, selfishness, greed, pride, etc will always find people of righteousness and prayer very inconveniencing and annoying; the ungodly will always ‘lie in wait’ against the righteous ones, while admiring their courage, peace and freedom. This is what the first reading demonstrated clearly. “Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for, according to what he says, he will be protected.”

2.0.         THE FLIHT TO WISDOM AND HUMILITY

The restless character of evil is manifested wherever it exists, no matter how little it might be. The second reading warns that those who entertain any trace of evil, such as jealousy and selfish ambition, will exhibit disorder and vile practices. And such persons will bring disunity and fight among the community or family. “But the wisdom from above is pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity.” To such, when they pray, God will answer because they do not spend what they have received on their passions.

In Gospel, Jesus, the Righteous One, who in Himself must confront and overcome the ancient hostility of evil against the good (cf. Eph 2:16). He began to explain to His disciples that He was going to take up the pain and death evil inflicts on the good and overcome it on the Cross. This is how he will lead those at war with evil to crossover to the realm of the righteous, peace and freedom. The humility of the Cross becomes the humiliation of evil! Humility becomes our escape from being infected by evil. Since the Cross of Christ is the greatest expression of humility, to carry our cross each day and follow Him humbly like a little child, is the lead way to greatness, peace and joy. Amen.

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos.
Sunday September 19th, 2021.
www.soundofsilence.ng
www.nwachinwe.blogspot.com

Saturday, September 18, 2021

THE SEED ON THE GOOD SOIL


Meditation for Saturday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time

(1 Tim 6:13-16; Lk 8:4-15)

Today we come to the end of our Mass readings’ meditation on St Paul’s first letter to Timothy. His concluding instruction is very clear: “I charge you to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

For us to remain faithful and fruitful in Jesus Christ, the parable of the sower indicates the generosity of God and the struggles we must overcome along the way. In his love and generosity, the Sower makes his seed available to all kinds of soil, both the fruitful and the unfruitful. But each seed had the same capacity to reach maturity and be fruitful. The different soils and conditions to which the seeds were subjected to made the difference. The fruitful seed must not end up ALONG THE PATH, where it will be trodden under foot, and evil birds of the air devour its faith and righteousness. The seed must avoid ending up ON THE ROCK of ‘occasion of sin’, where it will not have spiritual nourishment for sustainable growth. Such seed that want to be fruitful cannot grow AMONG THORNS ‘of the flesh’, where it will be choked and denied the spiritual joy of the freedom of the children of God.

“And some fell into good soil and grew, and yielded a hundred-fold.” If human heart is the soil on which the seed of the word of God is sown, it must remain steadfast as the ‘good soil.’ And that means it must be guarded but never allowed to be an open pathway where anything goes; it must be watered and nourished, never to be a dry hardened rock; it needs pruning and weeding so that wide thorns of pleasure will not choke it into slavery! To be ‘a good soil’, like St Paul charged Timothy, ‘until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ’, does not come by chance. It takes dedication, focus, and in keeping with the commandments. “And as for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bring forth fruit with patience.” Amen.

Saint Joseph of Cupertino, Pray for us. Amen.

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos.
Saturday September 18th, 2021.
www.soundofsilence.ng
www.nwachinwe.blogspot.com

Friday, September 17, 2021

THE SPRITUAL JOY OF CONTENTMENT

Meditation for Friday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time
(1 Tim 6:2-12; Lk 8:1-3)

In today’s edition, St Paul gives a very sensitive and important instruction to Timothy. He tells Timothy to avoid dabbling into issues and teachings that do not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and which do not accord with godliness. A religious who does that has a craving for controversy, which produces envy, dissension, slander, suspicions; he is depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. However, St Paul says, “There is great gain in godliness with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take away anything out of the world.”

 He goes further to instruct Timothy about the importance of contentment and to avoid greed. “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.” St Paul warns that the love of money is the root of all evils. The craving for MORE money, and for financial security have made some to wander away, and such craving brings with it many sorrows. How ugly it looks to see a priest or church leader consumed with desire for money! One who is already contented with what he has will always have more, but his real craving is for love of Jesus Christ. His energy shall be channeled righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness, etc.

The gospel of today gives us examples of faithful women, who journeyed along with Jesus. Some of them were touched by the power of Jesus and He healed them. Their response in following Jesus was not for any gain, instead, they provided for them out of their means. Imagine how these poor women were able to gather things to support the apostles! Again, imagine how Jesus and His disciples were so contented that they enjoyed the support of these simple women, and not looking up to the rich and mighty! Yes, a church leader who craves for money will definitely be out of reach from the poor and simple; he cannot lead them, and they cannot follow him. So, let us be contented that we may remain godly and steadfast in witnessing to Jesus Christ. Amen.

Saint Robert Bellarmine, Pray for us. Amen.

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos.
Friday September 17th, 2021.
www.soundofsilence.ng
www.nwachinwe.blogspot.com

Thursday, September 16, 2021

LOVE AND FORGIVENESS

Meditation for Thursday of the 24th Week in Ordinary Time
(1 Tim 4:12-16; Lk 7:36-50)

Welcome back to our meditations on St Paul’s first letter to Timothy. He continues to instruct the young man on how to handle affairs in the Church. “Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an example in speech and conduct, in love, faith, in purity.” He advised him to organize public reading of scripture, preaching and teaching. As a leader, he should put his gifts to us and devote himself to his duties. St Paul concludes today’s instructions by saying to Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to your teaching: hold to that, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”

In the gospel, Jesus teaches about the relationship between forgiveness and love. The Pharisees felt scandalized that Jesus allowed a woman, who was known to be a sinner, to wipe His feet with her long hair, and kiss them and anoint them with ointment. As they murmured against Jesus, He called the Pharisee, Simon, and taught him that the debtor to whom the creditor forgave more debt would love that creditor more. And turning to the woman Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

Love and forgiveness go together. The one whose sins are forgiven responds with much love; the one who loves much receives forgiveness of sins! The love of a humble contrite heart is always accepted by the Lord (Ps 51:17). Humbled at the feet of Jesus with her tears of contrition, she offered her sacrifice (penance) of costly ointment, and offered all to Jesus with her kiss of love. We can relive this experience through the mystical body of Christ when we kneel at Confession and by anointing the feet of the poor with our oil of charity. In the face of such humility and love, Jesus says, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then, we draw closer to Him with greater love than before, clinging unto Him with the arms of faith. He inspires us forward saying, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace." Amen.

Saints Cornelius & Cyprian, Pray for us. Amen.

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos.
Thursday September 16th, 2021.
www.soundofsilence.ng
www.nwachinwe.blogspot.com

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

“BEHOLD YOUR MOTHER”

 Meditation for Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows
(Jn 19:25-27)

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother, and his mother’s sister…” Today we honor the mother of Jesus as ‘Mater Dolorosa’ (Mother of Sorrows). Mary leads us on the path of those saved by the Cross, for from the first moment of her existence, she was saved from every stain of original sin on account of her role as Mother of Jesus and in view of the redemption in Jesus Christ through the Cross. So, we meditate on Mary’s silent position at the foot of the Cross, which is the highest point of Mary’s sorrows.

As the ‘cross’ of Jesus gradually unfolded throughout His life, so Mary was always standing at the ‘foot’ at each moment; she actively participated and journeyed along with her Son. Catholic Tradition summed Mary’s sorrowful journey into seven:

      The Prophecy of Simeon
The Flight to Egypt
The loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple
Mary’s meeting Jesus on the fourth station of the Cross
The crucifixion of Jesus
Jesus is taken down from the cross
The Burial of Jesus

Mary bore her sorrows with love and in fulfillment of her vocation. Having surrendered herself to the will of God, she silently followed as God’s will unfolded in her life, even when it was humanly painful. In this way, she shared in her son’s suffering and for His sake. She was mystically wounded in heart as she silently clung to the foot of the cross. Jesus recognized her maternal position at His moment of cross and said to her, “Woman, behold your son!” Thus, her gaze is redirected to us her children in faith.

Mater Dolorosa warms our hearts. Our sins bring suffering to the Body of Christ. And as Jesus steps in to heal us and save us, Mary’s maternal presence silently urges us on that we might come to Jesus and be healed. Therefore, loaded with our burdens of sufferings, we stand with Mary at foot of the Cross, that Jesus may look down and behold us under her maternal mantle. For to us He says, “Behold your mother!”

Our Lady of Sorrows, Pray for us. Amen.

Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
Saints Peter & Paul Catholic Church,
Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos.
Wednesday September 15th, 2021.
www.soundofsilence.ng
www.nwachinwe.blogspot.com