Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Teach us how to pray

Meditation for Monday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(Jonah 4:1-11; Lk 11:1-4)

One of the disciples said to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” In response, Jesus said to them, “Father, hallowed be thy name, Thy Kingdom come. Give us this day our daily bread; forgive us our sins…” At this time, we need to ask Jesus anew to teach us to pray. As we meditate on Jesus’ teaching on prayer, we see how He described prayer as a relationship, where we communicate with God as our Father. So, prayer positions us as CHIDLREN OF GOD, and opens us to His divine providence. That means His rulership, sovereignty and righteousness becomes our desire as we say, ‘Your kingdom come.’

Prayer is more about God and His kingdom of righteousness than about our needs. But our needs are part of prayer as we say, “Give us each day our daily bread.” While our needs extend all the days of our life, in prayer we ask only for ‘this day,’ which enables us to look up to God in hope for the days to come as His children. Having asked for ‘daily bread’, then we request for spiritual healing and sustenance as we say, “Forgive us our sins…and lead us not into temptation.” Prayer becomes a lived experience as we share the bread we ask for with the hungry, and forgive those who sinned against us as we ask God for forgiveness.


Meditate on how prayer is a wholesome communication that transcends words; it extols God and elevates us above our needs. From the words of Jesus, it is obvious that prayer is a lifestyle, which brings keeps us in touch with both God and our neighbor. The interaction between God and Jonah gives us an example of a man who prays to God, but does not want to assimilate the communication he has with God, and position himself as a child of God. That is why it is not for us to use prayer to ‘impose’ our ideas as Jonah tried. But God, the merciful Father, taught him a lesson that transformed him. So, we join our voices with the disciple to say to Jesus, “Teach us to pray.” Yes, one of the qualities of prayer is that we cannot stop learning about it; and we learn by praying. And every answered prayer is a new lesson in prayer.


Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church,

Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos, Nigeria.

Wednesday October 11, 2023.


Sunday, October 8, 2023


 Meditation for Monday of the Twenty-Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
(Jonah 1:1-17; 2:1, 10; Lk 10:25-37)

Think about how Jonah, a prophet of God, ever thought he could run from the presence of God. It is interesting and surprising that a messenger of God like him, still needed to be taught that God is everywhere. Jonah was overwhelmed emotionally at the thought of doing good to their enemies by bringing the good news of repentance to them. This is usually the case when the man of faith has to confront overwhelming life challenges, such as sickness, poverty, death, etc. But the journey ‘away from God’ does not reduce the difficulties, rather they multiply. Jonah learnt through the hard way that God is not just everywhere, but He is equally present in the darkest moment of his life, for God heard him when he prayed from the belly of the fish!

Jonah learnt, and found God anew where He least expected it. In human terms, we can liken Jonah’s experience to that of the man beaten by robbers, who found a neighbor where he least expected it, i.e., in the hands of the good Samaritan, who was a foreigner. His own priest, and his brother, a Levite, saw him helpless but passed by on the other side. But the good Samaritan attended to him, paid for his treatment, deposited two denarii for his onward treatment, and promised to come back, passing through that way again to make up for anything that might be lacking for his wholesome recovery. So, the good Samaritan would not stop loving until the wounded man is perfectly restored!


Yes, Jonah’s experience has made us realize that God is ever-present, even in the confusion and darkness of our lives. And his three days journey beneath the belly of the fish reminds us of Jesus’ resurrection after three days in the grave. Jesus is ‘God among us’, who brings to us that divine love that heals, pays our debt of sin, leaves behind the deposits of the means of saving grace in the sacraments, and He promised to come back for our eternal perfection. How can we run from His presence? (Cf. Ps 139:7-12). No matter how overwhelmed life challenges may be at the moment, or we might feel beaten and wounded by temptation and troubles of life, let us call on Jesus, just as Jonah did from the belly of the fish, He is ever-present, and His love is endless. Amen.


Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church,

Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos, Nigeria.

Monday October 9, 2023.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

The Stone Rejected by the Builders

Meditation for the Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
(Is 5:1-7; Phil 4:6-9; Mt 21: 33-43)

At the end of the parable of the tenants in the vineyard, Jesus said, “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” The message is simple: a building that is not resting on the cornerstone collapses! It is expected that a builder ought to place his ‘construction’ on the cornerstone. Why did the builders neglect the cornerstone? It is common that the human person does not easily do the right things he knows that are good for him; we are easily distracted and do not often channel our love and appreciation in the right direction.

In the first reading, we hear the story about another vineyard, which was well planted, nurtured and well protected. After all this, instead of producing sweet wine, it yielded wild grapes. The owner was disappointed, and decided to lay it to waste. At the end of the story the prophet said, “For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting; and He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry!” Thus, the Israelites abandoned the righteousness of God, which was their cornerstone, and they fell into the hands of their enemies.


In the gospel, the parable talks about the vineyard, and the tenants to whom it was leased out to. Those tenants cornered all the produce and planned to take over the vineyard from the owner. In their wickedness and greed, they kill the servants of the householder. Finally, killed his son also, hoping that the inheritance would be theirs. But they did not know that the son was the cornerstone, for he was the reason the householder leased out the vineyard to them, and tolerated their excesses. At this point, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death, and lease the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their seasons.” Jesus likened this vineyard to the Kingdom of God, which was first entrusted to the Jews, but it is now entrusted to believers all over the world. Just as the householder would hand over the vineyard to new tenants that will produce its fruit, so will God transfer the kingdom and its righteousness to those ready to bear the fruits of it.


The second reading urges us not to be anxious about anything so as to avoid building our lives on the wrong foundation, and facing ruin like the tenants. This is how greedy and evil thought germinates. But we should offer everything to God by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Chrit Jesus.” Jesus is the Cornerstone. As St Paul said in the second reading, let us fix our minds on the righteousness of Jesus so that we can desire whatever is honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, and worthy of praise. Yes, Jesus is in our midst as the true Vine, and we have been grafted into Him as His branches (Jn 15:5). We must avoid anything that distracts us from Jesus so that we can bear fruit to the glory of God. Amen.


Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church,

Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos, Nigeria.

Sunday October 8, 2023.

Thursday, October 5, 2023

“Peace be to this House”

Meditation for Thursday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
(Neh 8:1-4, 5-6, 7-12; Lk 10:1-12)

To be aware that any endeavor we engage in may not succeed as we wanted, is one of the greatest armors against failure. Sometimes we over exaggerate success in life, business, friendship, marriage, academics, etc, to exclude every possibility of error or failure. The energy to overcome failure will succeed when we are aware that failure is possible! These thoughts came to me as I was meditating on the gospel of today, where Jesus sent out His disciples on a mission to proclaim the Kingdom of God. It was as if the mission was designed to fail, for He sent them out with the awareness that they may not succeed.


Think about the possible obstacles Jesus presented to them as they departed for the mission. How can a lamb be successful in the midst of a wolf, which is out to hunt down the lamb? Still, He denied them financial security so that they cannot ‘buy’ their way out! While the disciples come in peace, Jesus made them to be aware that there may not be a ‘son of peace’ to receive them. So, their good offer might be rejected. As He was sending them out to towns and villages, Jesus reminded them that some towns might not even open their gates to welcome them. It is obvious that Jesus made rejection, vulnerability and insecurity part of the mission, which means their occurrence can no more be counted as failure, instead, they have become part of the success of the mission!


Meditate on your own mission, and see how, in the name of Jesus, what ought to be counted as failure, can become part of your success story! The mission of the disciples succeeded, and it is still succeeding, even as the dangers are increasing. Thus, in the first reading, Ezra the priest asked the people to wipe their tears, saying, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Yes, the success of the mission is not dependent on the wolves or hostile towns, but on the fact that, “The kingdom of God has come near you”, and on the fact that the peace and joy of God’s kingdom is available, and can be accessed even through the disciples. Therefore, the proclamation, PEACE BE TO THIS HOUSE, is itself a success even when there is no ‘son of peace’ to receive it.


Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church,

Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos, Nigeria.

Thursday October 4, 2023.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023


Meditation for Wednesday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
(Neh 2:1-8; Lk 9:57-62)

Let us meditate on the mystery of divine vocation as given in the gospel of today. As Jesus and His disciples were going along the road, they encountered three different people who showed interest in being a disciple of Jesus. The first person presented himself to serve as a disciple. His words were so convincing as he said, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Surprisingly, Jesus turned down the offered. His response to the man shows he could read the man’s mind and saw his attachment to comfort and pleasure. Jesus said to the man, “Foxes have holes, and birds of air have nests; but the Son of man has nowhere to lay his head.” The clamor of the crowd around Jesus and His disciples would soon evaporate, and the cheering and excitement would give way to silence and loneliness. Divine vocation is basically a call to be ‘alone with God.” That is why no one takes this honor upon himself.


Jesus invited the second person, saying, “Follow me.” This man seemed to be gifted with high sense of duty, which would have been very profitable for the spreading of the gospel, for the said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” The man did not understand that the call to follow Jesus is the one and only responsibility that encompasses every other duty. Thus, our sense of duty must be directed to Jesus, then expressed in our other daily engagements. That is why Jesus replied, saying, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.”


The third person seemed to have an attachment to his family and friends. He had made this earth ‘a home’, so, it became difficult for him to open up promptly to a new relationship that would take him away from ‘home.’ This man seemed to be a passionate person, which would have been a good quality to help him bond with Jesus as a disciple and contribute to the building up of the family of God. But he could not release his hands from the grip he had on his human bonds, so he said to Jesus, “I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” He did not understand that God’s call demands immediate and complete response. Suspension of our response is at the same time a rejection of the call. Therefore, Jesus said, “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”


Since it is God who initiates the call to serve Him at any level, the dignity of any vocation lies in God. That means our response to the call must respect that dignity. Hence, we cannot put hands on the plough of the kingdom of God but have our eyes fixed on the kingdom of earth.


Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church,

Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos, Nigeria.

Wednesday October 3, 2023.

Monday, October 2, 2023


 Meditation for Tuesday of the Twenty-Sixth Week in Ordinary Time
(Zech 8:20-23; Lk 9:51-56)
Aggression and violence are common ways people exert force and exercise their authority. When these are applied, the common response is usually resistance and revenge, which in turn multiplies the aggression and violence and leads to more chaos and destruction. But Jesus teaches us, and demonstrates with His life, that humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness are the right ways to exercise authority and power. However, in the midst of rising tensions, the human person tends to put aside the ‘ways of the Lord’ and quickly resorts to his natural inclination to violence and aggression. At the end, man finds himself empty and powerless unless he follows the true way that Jesus taught us.

In the gospel of today, when the Samaritans prevented Jesus from passing through their village because he was heading to Jerusalem, the two brothers, James and John, said to Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?” Jesus rebuked them. He turned and followed another way. If God gives us such power to call down fire from heaven, it is to defeat evil, and not to destroy our fellow human being or those that oppose us. Even if we do not have such great power, the little power we have in finance, knowledge, health, strength, etc, are readily applied to hold down the weak and ignorant, fight those who oppose us, and to establish our ego and self-importance. Like the two apostles, revenge is easily on our lips and at the tip of our fingers!

Jesus rebuked the use of violence and aggression, and He followed the alternative root. And this is the route we are expected to follow. It is in this alternative route of peace that our power and authority shine out. This is because it gently and silently neutralizes every aggression and violence, and renders those who project them powerless. Think about the distraction, waste of time and energy it would have been for Jesus had it been He stopped to take revenge on the Samaritans! The alternative route of peace helps us to be focused on our journey, and it ensures that we get to our destination. Amen.


Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church,

Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos, Nigeria.

Tuesday October 3, 2023.


Thursday, September 28, 2023


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

“Haggai” is a beautiful Hebrew name meaning, “Festive.” Haggai’s prophecy came at the end of the Babylonian exile, during the rebuilding of the temple as ordered by Cyrus, king of Persia. He was among the twelve minor prophets, who delivered messages to Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, who supervised the reconstruction of the temple. The Israelites encountered a lot of opposition and challenges in the rebuilding (Cf Ezra 4:1-5), which made them discouraged and they stopped the work. Then, the prophet Haggai stepped in to encourage the people to resume the work.


Haggai asked, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Consider how you have fared. You have sown much, and harvested little; you eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill…” The prophet urged them to go back to work on the temple that the Lord God may be pleased with them and blessed them and grant them satisfaction.


Pause and meditate on what it means for a Christian of today to live comfortably in his or her ‘paneled house’ and neglect the ‘Temple of God.’ Such can be compared to the situation of Herod the tetrarch, who broke God’s law, beheaded John the Baptist from the comfort of his palace, to protect his pride, and satisfy his wife and daughter. At the end, he lived in perplexity, uncertainty and sadness. Hearing the name of Jesus became a ‘riot’ in the heart of Herod! In the words of prophet Haggai, consider how Herod fared! But if we build up the temple of God by living spiritual lives, and aligning our bodies to the divine law, then, the Lord God will be pleased with us, the Holy Spirit will make His home in us, and the sweet name of Jesus will uplift our hearts. Think about the freedom of heart and the power we shall possess, and the Lord will bless us and satisfy us. Amen.


Fr Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church,

Tedi-Muwo, Ojo, Lagos, Nigeria.

Thursday September 28, 2023.