Saturday, October 20, 2012


(Reflection on 27th Sunday Yr B. Gn 2:18-24, Heb 2:9-11, Mk 10:2-16)

07600161_thumb3When I first came across the readings of today, my mind centred on marriage. It was a good topic, rich and easy to get by. However, I wasn't too excited talking all about marriage to a congregation of married and singles, who were not seated for a wedding. While battling with this dilemma, two questions from the first reading obstructed my flow of thought: 1) Why was it that Adam himself never complained of being alone, but it was God who identified Adam's loneliness and solved the problem for him? (cf Gen 2:18). 2) How can God declare Adam alone in the midst of all the beauty, resources, animals, trees, etc of the Garden of Eden?

Reflectively, God as Trinity of Persons is the source of communal living. The implication of God identifying man’s loneliness is that human togetherness, the family, my neighbour—comes from God as a gift. This gift forms part of God’s plan for man’s completeness and happiness. On the other hand, it is obvious that God created man with a latent inclination to companionship. This inclination appears open ended. Then comes my neighbour, ‘‘flesh of my flesh’’ (Gen 2:23). With this, the question of man’s inclination for companionship finds its immediate answer. This answer finds its most concrete expression in the human family (cf. Gen 2:24). Immediately we observe that the moment the human person begins to turn away from his family, ‘my neighbour’, ‘flesh of my flesh’, alienation and loneliness set in.

However, inasmuch as God himself implanted this inclination for completeness, human companionship cannot fully resolve it. It is fully resolved only in God. Therefore, the moment man begins to separate himself from God, he experiences a deeper alienation and loneliness, which in turn affects his capacity to establish genuine and lasting communion (cf. Gen 3:10-12). Isn’t this what played out at the fall of Adam and Eve?

Jesus, the New Adam, goes ahead of us to form a new human family. He sanctifies and brings to perfection our broken human communions, forming us into one family, one stock with Him (cf. 2nd reading). Jesus clip_image001_thumbcomes down to us, made lower than the angels (cf. Heb 2:9) to lead us as one family with Him into that perfect union and completeness which becomes the bedrock of our human communion. So in Christ Jesus we are able to build up our capacity for genuine and lasting union. Then we need a docile heart to receive Jesus like little children (Mk 10:14-15).

Here we find the root of divorce. It comes from a stubborn heart (cf Mk 10:5); a heart unlike that of a child! The ingredients that cook divorce are prepared in a heart that is not docile to the friendship that Jesus offers. The broken humanity must go back to God in order to go back to one another.

The second question almost answers itself: 'my neighbour' has no alternative. The Human need for companionship, solidarity and support cannot be replaced by pets, trees, wealth, etc. Unless we embrace one another in love, we remain lonely even in the midst of all the wealth of the earth. And such loneliness bespeaks of fear and vulnerability. Engrossed with material wealth, the human person may live in delusion of false completeness (cf Ps 49).

Dear brothers and sisters, we must wake up to a renewed appreciation of our families and one another as God's gift. But this is just the beginning. We must grasp Jesus' hand of Communion to achieve the completeness that our souls desire, and to overcome fear and remain secure. Communing with my neighbour gives concrete expression to that inner quest for transcendence which the grace of God makes possible.

Fr. Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R

St. Michael's Catholic Church,

Kado, Abuja.



(5th Sunday of Easter Yr A. Acts 6:1-7, 1 Pet 2:4-9, Jn 14:1—12)

DSC02204Gathered here this morning some of us are looking like local chiefs. This shows our diversity.

Each culture can be said to be a response to God’s call in Gen 1:28 to be fruitful, multiply and subdue the earth, and be masters of creation. Cultures arise as man forms repeated adaptive behaviours in thought and action to master his environment. So we see how cultures can be different as environments and societies vary.

But we have gathered here, not to celebrate our diversity but our unity and oneness. We are here today as a people with different thought systems but a common purpose; a people with different languages but a common message. There is something that transcends each unique culture that has dragged us here today.

We see this in the first reading of today where there was quarrel in the community resulting from cultural differences. Earlier in Acts 2:42—44 we were told that the whole believers who came from different cultures were united together in the breaking of bread and the apostles teaching. So when signs of division appeared in today’s reading, the apostles insisted that they must remain focused on that which unites, which transcends all cultures and gives new life to all cultures—the word of God, the life of Christ proclaimed.

Culture gives us identity. In Jesus we have a common identity within the diversity of our cultures. In Christ we move and have our being; in Him we become masters of ourselves and masters of the earth; in Him and through Him we achieve the purpose of our creation. Therefore, Jesus is the life; He is theimage truth that every culture tries to capture and he is the way to the Father; the ultimate purpose for which we were created. When I am lifted up, I shall draw all peoples to myself.

Brothers and sisters, our celebration today becomes a celebration of the identity we have in Christ, given to us through our diverse cultures. Therefore, our cultural expression must not negate this unique identity we have in Christ, who sanctifies human culture by sharing in it. As Jesus challenged the wrong understanding of culture and tradition of His time, He still challenges us today to remove in our lives the culture of death, sexual immorality, bribery and corruption, and  tribalism.

Let us develop the culture of prayer and of communion with Christ through the Word and breaking of the Bread like the apostles. He says, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R





(FIFTH SUNDAY OF LENT, 2011-04-09)


In the beginning, God created men and women so that they may live, not for death. But death entered through man’s disobedience (cf. Gen 2: 17, Rm 5:12). See how death tried to rubbish the beauty of creation. And God began the process of redeeming man from death. Within this process came the moment of the law. Since only God can give life, the law was meant to unite us with God the source of life. The Israelites were warned to keep the law and live (Deut 30:15-20). But mere observance of the law could not bring them live. Moreover, they grossly disobeyed the law.

1st reading

The house of Israel was described as dry bones because of their transgressions of the law. By rejecting God, though they were breathing, the prophet addressed them as dry bones. But God promised to restore them to life by His Spirit.

2nd reading

The second reading reminds us that it is the Spirit that gives life. If our life is not guided by the Holy Spirit we are dead though we might be breathing. So we must allow the Spirit to make His home in us such that our interest is no longer in unspiritual things. This is how we are to know when the Sprit has made his home in us. How much interest do we have in spiritual things? How eager are we to contribute and advance the kingdom of God? We begin to understand here that when the Scriptures talk about death it is not merely bodily death but spiritual death.

Physical death is not the problem, yet we often work hard to avoid it; self-preservation. But how much effort do we put in to avoid spiritual death? Some people are spiritually dead; they can no longer perceive God. They have lost interest in things of God—their source of joy, strength and fulfilment no longer come from things of the spirit. The hunger to live which God has put in us exceeds physical life. It has its roots in the spiritual life.


In the Gospel, our resurrection has come. In Lk 20:37-38 He is God not of the dead but the living. The Sadducees and Pharisees argued about the idea of the resurrection. But Jesus shows us today that the resurrection and the life is a person. So we no longer ask what is the resurrection and life but who is the resurrection and life. The issue is: do you believe?

Martha believed in the resurrection on the last day. At least it is easier to think of the resurrection when all has ended. If so Jesus would have said I will be the resurrection...! But how can He be the resurrection in the present to the living and the dead now? This is because He is the resurrection both of the body and the spirit. And we can be dead in spirit though our bodies live through not believing in Christ and living out our faith. Jesus is the one who restores our lives lost to sin. He is the Word spoken on dry bones and they live.

Jesus wept! Why weep when He knew He was going to raise Lazarus? He saw their tears and was greatly distressed because He had associated Himself with their pain and made it His own. He is the compassionate saviour who shares the miseries of His people.

In Jesus’ distress and tears we see His sadness for the fallen man; how man’s disobedience tried to destroy God’s beautiful work. We began to perceive the distress of God as Adam and Eve were being driven out of the Garden of Eden. But He is here to rescue man from death.

Jesus wept! He weeps for suffering humanity. In His tears we see the distress of God for man’s inhumanity to his fellow man. We see the tears of God when life is offered to us but we prefer death, the resurrection is given but we prefer to remain in the grave of sin. In His tears we see the agony of God for innocent blood shed everyday through abortion, violence or careless living.

Jesus wept not because Lazarus was dead, but because He felt the pain and agony of man, which man brought upon himself when God is offering peace and joy.

Dear brothers and sisters, we are asked today to believe in the Resurrection and life. If we believe, then we are one with Jesus. And if we are one with Jesus we cannot be smiling and partying while Jesus weeps. We too must associate ourselves with the suffering humanity everywhere. This is one of the things we are called to do this Lenten season. We associate with suffering humanity to offer them the hope of the Resurrection as Jesus did by raising Lazarus to life.

Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R





1. Jesus speaks in parables: There are about 50 parables in the Gospels. 40 are found in the Gospel according to Luke, of which 15 are narrated only by him. Today’s parable is among the 15 that are found only in the Gospel according to Luke. He uses signs and images familiar to us to pass the great messages of the mystery of God to us. This use of familiar imagery is another expression of humility. The workings of God and how they relate to us can overwhelm us and be difficult to understand. But Jesus lays these mysteries bay before us in signs and images, and in parables. Does Jesus still speak in parables today?

The use of these familiar imageries shows that Jesus was in touch with the ordinary daily experiences of the people at that time. He still speaks to us in parables: in familiar daily experiences. He speaks to us today in our daily moments of happiness, sorrow, hardship or achievements. So we must always be attentive, and look upon such moments with eyes of faith in order to understand the message of Christ. If Christ has humbled Himself to associate with our ordinary experiences, we must always be humble and entrust such moments to Him. There is always a message Christ has for us in every situation we find ourselves.

2. The parable of today enjoins us to be humble before God. Since God humbles Himself and identifies with us (Phil 2:7), he equally supplies the strength and grace we need. Without Him we can do nothing (Jn 15:5). What is the disposition we need in order to respond to our God, to have our prayers answered, our fears resolved and to be at rights with God? The first reading tells us that with humility our '‘prayers will pierce the clouds;'’ we receive the answers we are looking for. A humble heart realizes how close God is and submits totally to Him. He’s like the poor and orphan whose help comes only from the Lord! Hence the Psalmist says “This poor man called the Lord heard him”. Blessed are the poor in spirit, the humble—those who realize their need of God—for the Kingdom of God belongs to them (cf. Mt 5:3).

And this promise of the Kingdom of God, the crown of glory, is what St Paul emphasized in the 2nd reading. He tells us that there is a crown of righteousness for all those who look forward to it; those who humble themselves before God—who work hard to please Him. Therefore, we must have our eyes focused on God’s kingdom and its righteousness. We must instil in our hearts a longing for this crown of righteousness in order to be strengthened as we humble ourselves before God.

3. The parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector reminds us that prayer is one vital way we express our dependence on God. And the way we pray reflects the way we believe. Our prayer reveals the nature of our relationship with God and the secrets of our hearts. Jesus invites us to pray; He is the one who has summoned us here this morning. Our response, our prayers reveal how much we have accepted that invitation. We see the in the attitude of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector the following:

a) “The Pharisee stood there...” but “The tax collector stood some distance away...” God, by coming close to us, has sanctified time and space, distance to be a living imagery of His presence and closeness to us. He has ordained that the chapel/church be a place of prayer. In the church, the altar and the tabernacle are designated as special places of God’s presence. So when we see people kneeling down before the altar, prostrating before the tabernacle, that becomes a living gesture, an expression of the inner yearning for God’s closeness in one’s life. But that can be abused. The Pharisee stood there at the sanctuary as a sign of his self-confidence, pride and self-righteousness. But the tax collector stood some distance away, at the rear end of the temple, expressing his recognition that God is close at the sanctuary and that he’s not worthy to draw close. In humility he was asking God to draw him close.

b) The Pharisee prayed to himself. We must always be careful where our prayers are directed to. We do not pray to ourselves, or to others or to our problems and desires. Also, we must not pray against anybody. But we only pray for people and for our intentions. We pray only to God. Even when we ask the Saints and Angels to pray for us, it is still to God that our prayers are designated. Therefore, we must carefully examine the love that motivates our prayers, and where the love that flows from our prayers are directed.

c) The Pharisee used himself as the standard of judgment to exalt himself and to condemn others. We do this when we use ourselves to justify our own actions and give excuses why we cannot improve, pray or change our behaviour. When we use human power as standard, we set limits. We become a barriers preventing ourselves from reaching out to both God and man and even to our own detriment. God is our judge. Christ is the standard. When we allow pride to get hold of us, and we use ourselves as standard, we not only limit ourselves, we equally cut ourselves off from God’s blessings and righteousness.

Brothers and sisters, Jesus speaks to us in familiar signs and images. He humbles himself, identifying with our ordinary experiences to give us hope and crown of righteousness. Let us approach Him in humility “for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the man who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Our help is in the name of the Lord—who made heaven and earth!

Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R

Redeemer House, Ibadan.