Friday, August 15, 2014

‘‘Henceforth all Generations shall call me blessed’' (Lk 1:48)

The Virgin Mary made this all-time declaration when she visited her cousin, Elizabeth. This statement serves as an acknowledgment of the great things the Almighty has done for her as the Mother of God despite her lowliness. It is equally an expression of joy and a reason for her joy that, ‘‘henceforth all generations shall call me blessed’’

Gathered here to mark the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, we re-echo and partake in that joy; the joy we have in God our Saviour who looks on our weakness and humiliation (cf. Lk 1:47). God, in His almightiness, considers the weak and lowly and lifts the on high. ‘‘He humbles the proud and raises the lowly’’ (Lk 1:52). Thus, the Solemnity of Assumption announces that Mary, the humble handmaid of the Lord, has been raised on high, assumed into heavenly glory. St Alphonsus Maria De Liguori, Founder of the Redemptorist Congregation, said, ‘‘Jesus did not wish to have the body of Mary corrupted after death, since it would have redounded to His own dishonour to have her Virginal flesh, from which He Himself had assumed flesh, reduced to dust’’(The Glories of Mary, Part II, d. 1).

The dogma of Assumption was declared on November 1, 1950 by Pope Pius XII in the Apostolic Constitution, Munificentissimus Deus: By the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own authority, we pronounce, declare, and define it to be a divinely revealed dogma: that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory (No.44). This dogma asserts that Mary is wholly in God, in the totality of her existence, i.e. body and soul. Being in God, she is alive to all peoples and all generations as Mother of all believers. Thus, in Mary Assumed into Heaven, the Church’s belief in the Resurrection of the body is strengthened and enlivened. The pilgrim Church gazes on Mary with radiant joy, resounding her blessedness in all generations, since Mary has become a model for the Church. Our celebration of Assumption becomes our anticipation of the Resurrection (cf. CCC 966-967).

The Holy Catholic Church celebrates the Assumption of Mary with great solemnity. In this way, the Church stands out as the living fulfilment of Mary’s prophecy that all generations will call her blessed. We, as individual pilgrims in the Church, express our joy as we share in the fulfilment of that prophecy. Thus, when Mary said to Elizabeth, ‘‘Henceforth all generations shall call me blessed’’, she understood that the great things the Almighty has done for her lowly handmaid would make her alive and present to all generations. In other words, God’s great works in Mary can never be relegated to the past. Her motherhood extends to all generations.

Gathered here before the Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, we are besieged by many problems. But we are not blinded by these from seeing God’s goodness and great works in our lives. So as we join all generations to call Mary Blessed, we partake and re-echo her joy, while at the same join our voices with hers to announce that the Almighty has done great things for us.

Fr. Jude Chinwenwa Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help,
Ugwogo-Nike, Enugu. Nigeria.
Written for Enugu Diocesan Pilgrimage/Rosary Carnival Brochure.
August 16, 2014.

Saturday, August 2, 2014


                                                                                       REFLECTION FOR SATURDAY 17th Week in Ordinary Time 
                                                                                                                                            (Jer 26:11-16,24. Mt 14:1-12)
Jeremiah prophesied against the Temple and the City. His voice unsettled the people’s temporary comfort in evil.  Thus, they threatened to kill him. But Jeremiah quickly reminded them that the messaged he delivered came from God. So killing him would not silence the voice because it’s actually God’s word that he proclaimed. And God’s word is a living word that lives beyond the messenger. In other words, whether they let him go or not, God’s word for them must be fulfilled. And if they kill him, they would have only succeeded in increasing their crimes, which implies more punishment. He urged them to accept the message irrespective of him.

Jeremiah’s readiness to die for God’s word becomes a veritable platform that enabled the people to receive the message for what it is, God’s word and not some human thinking (cf 1Th 2:13). Interestingly, it is within this same platform that the messenger becomes effective and successful. In other words, a preacher who removes martyrdom from his catalogue of witnessing for the Word, will most likely trade off the word to save his life. And his list of compromising will begin to increase.

From Jeremiah’s experience in the first reading, it becomes easier for us to understand why Herod and his illegal sweet heart, Herodias, rejected the message of John the Baptist. Deafened by political and royal exuberance, they failed to recognize John’s warning as coming from God. Instead of allowing God’s word to arrest him, Herod arrested John and imprisoned him. ‘‘But God’s message cannot be chained up’’ (2 Tim 2:9). Hence, he was perturbed at the voice of John the Baptist sounding room the prison and from the grave!

Our duty is to recognize and accept God’s word for what it is. This is a life-long project. But it must be fulfilled at every moment and every situation of our lives. We must therefore pray for the grace to fulfil this responsibility.

Fr Jude Chinwe Nwachukwu, C.Ss.R
National Shrine of Our Mother Perpetual Help,
Ugwogo-Nike, Enugu, Nigeria.
Saturday, 2nd August, 2014.