My Homilies

Homily of 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

1st Reading: Numbers 11:25-29; 2nd Reading: James 5:1-6; Gospel: Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48

THEME: CHRIST ENJOINS US TO BE TOLERANT AND MODEST!

God created everyone uniquely. He freely endows each person with different capabilities (graces) at His own discretion for the common good, and can actually use anyone as He pleases, to execute His salvific mission. Unfortunately, due to sectarianism, exclusivism, tribalism, fear, envy, injustice and the like, which have been the major cankerworms that stifle the progress of any given society, many talented or qualified persons have been deprived the opportunity of contributing positively towards the growth and development of that society.

In the FIRST READING, when the task of ruling the Israelites became too burdensome for Moses, he saw the need for assistance, and thus entreated the Almighty God so as to carry out the duties entrusted to him effectively. Compassionately, God responded to Moses’ plea, by replicating his power and grace (transference of spiritual gifts), and thus instituted a collective leadership of 70 elders to share his burden. Remarkably, two persons (Eldad & Medad) who were not in the camp also received the same power and grace. Consequently, Joshua, engulfed by zeal, envy, sectarianism, or perhaps, fear of his own position, wanted to stop them. Thus, Moses repudiated him, and wished that all the Lord’s people had such prophetic gifts, and the Lord gave His Spirit to them.

Similarly, in the GOSPEL, due to envious, overzealous and exclusive mentality of Jesus’ disciples, or perhaps, fear of their own positions and the authority of their leader, they could not approve the stranger who was performing a salvific duty in the name and authority of Jesus Christ, without authorization. Hence, they wanted to stop him. But, Jesus reacted to their exclusivist views by underscoring the decisive importance of His person and mission (liberation of humanity from slavery of evil powers). He instructed them not to stop him, that, no man could do a mighty work in His name and be altogether His enemy. Thus, He laid down the great principle that, “he who is not against us is for us.” Even though, there are fake pastors who feign Jesus’ authority, but we can test their spirits (1 Jn. 4:1), and can also know them by their fruits (Matt. 7:20).

Meanwhile, in one of our desert experiences many years ago, in Port Harcourt, before I became a priest, during intercessory prayer sessions, many people were praying in the spirit (glossolalia), precisely the prayer warriors, I was also inspired by the Holy Spirit to pray as such, though not yet in Praying Ministry then. But one brother approached me and started rebuking every familiar spirit in me. According to him, the gift of glossolalia was only meant for those in Praying Ministry; just imagine his perception! Sometimes, some Christians are beclouded by such attitudes, like Joshua, Jesus’ disciples and that brother. When they see others outside their religious group performing the same good works like them, they become apprehensive, as if those people would outshine or overthrow them, or that some gifts are only meant for special people. This is ignorance of the highest order.

Moreover, the Holy Spirit acts in diverse ways, and is not limited to a group of persons, or given through official channels; rather God freely inspires anyone who believes in Him (Acts 10:34), and no one is a monopoly of spiritual gifts (like prophecy & exorcism). It is a wrong mentality to think that, graces or gifts are always given to people according to their status or religious group.

Surprisingly, there are many Christians who form different sects or cliques, and do not see the relevance of other people’s good works, outside their group. Even when those people may have the panaches (wonderful ideas or suggestions) on how to improve their current society, but due to exclusivism of the group, they are being silenced. Such group, no matter how talented you are, they may see you as a threat or obstacle, and will always look for a way to discredit or criticize your actions, either through assassinating your character or not speaking friendly with you. But if another person among them does the same thing you have done, they would applaud him or her.  This attitude may be scandalous to many, especially those with little faith.

Furthermore, Christ also warned us in the Gospel, not to cause scandals to others, especially the little ones. For scandal is doubly sinful act that involves one’s sin and that of another person being scandalized. It could be caused by teaching wrong doctrine, giving wrong advice, exhibiting queer or bad attitudes, which may be imitated by others especially children. According to John Locke (British philosopher), in his behavioral perspective, children’s minds are Tabula Rasa (blank slate), and are largely shaped by their social environment, which exerts its effects through associations between thoughts and feelings, behavioral repetitions and imitations. In other words, children are influenced by what they see people do. So, we have grave obligation, especially those in positions of authority such as parents, teachers, formators, etc., whose duty it is to bring up children in a true Christian faith, not to scandalize them or lead others into error.

Consequently, this is the reason St. James, in the SECOND READING prophetically condemned those who put their hope in earthly or perishable things. Same goes to those who accumulate earthy wealth unjustly, most especially through bribery, oppression, suppression, deprivation and injustices of all kinds against the weak, the poor who labour for them, and those who do not belong to their group, clique or class. For these earthly acquisitions may deprive us of eternal life, if we do not use them wisely in helping the poor and needy.

Therefore, our lessons in today’s readings are:

  • As Christians, it is very pertinent for us to eschew pride, and always seek for assistance (collaboration) in our work when the load becomes too much; instead of burning ourselves up because of vainglories, or be afraid that our efforts, successes or achievements may be attributed to others.
  • We should avoid sectarianism, exclusivism, etc., and not stifle the Spirit of God, or be envious of the gifts of others; or see those performing the same work with us as threats, especially those who do not belong to our religious group or denomination; rather we should do everything possible to uplift their human dignity.
  • We should always carry people along, and always communicate our knowledge and experiences without hoarding them. This would help them to reproduce more of our ingenuity or talents for the betterment of humanity.
  • We should avoid causing scandals to others especially children, or lead those with little faith into error.
  • We should not treat people unjustly or deny the poor and laborers their fair wages. Also, not to allow any earthly possessions deprive us the everlasting prize, but sacrifice them for the sake of eternal life.

Finally, the Holy Spirit works outside the Church community, as is evident in the works done by people who have the good of others at heart. Since no man can possibly grasp all truth, we should always be open to dialogue with others, and not be intolerant with them, which is a sign both of arrogance and ignorance.  However, we should be tolerant with people no matter their tribe, class or religion. Though not a gullible acceptance of anything, but through the Holy Spirit, subject everything to the test.

Therefore, I pray that you and your family may be filled with the Power of the Holy Spirt, so as to fulfil God’s divine purpose for your life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!!!

Peace of Christ be with you…

Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.

Homily of 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B The Almighty God Loves and Cares for you…

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  1. Homily of 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
  2. Homily of 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
  3. Homily of 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
  4. Homily of 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.
  5. Homily of 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
My Homilies

Homily of 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

1st Reading: Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; 2nd Reading: James 3:16-4:3; Gospel: Mark 9:30-37

THEME: WE ARE CALLED TO HUMBLY SERVE ALL WITH A CHILDLIKE SPIRIT!

The quests for power, fame, supremacy, position, and the likes, have engendered a lot of rivalries among many people in our contemporary society. Surprisingly, Christians are mostly the very ones that exacerbate this cancerous phenomena due to their ambitiousness and cravings. Consequently, these tend to hamper growth, development, peace, unity and love in any given society.

Last Sunday, the Church presented to us, the mission of the Messiah, which was embellished with plethora of sufferings (humiliations, persecutions, hatred, opposition, etc). Meanwhile, in the first century B.C., the God-fearing (innocent) Jews experienced the same ordeal in the hands of the ambitious and ungodly people. They were put to the test, and were subjected to an intense influence of Hellenistic (Greek) culture and oppression by some fellow Jews, who had apostatized and converted to Hellenism. However, suffering can be a period of trial and testing for the righteous ones.

The FIRST READING of today highlighted the gimmicks of those renegade Jews, who despised and hated the innocent Jews, because their way of living (righteous) reminded them of their own apostasy. Hence, they always conspired and did everything within their power to humiliate and exterminate them. Paradoxically, these sufferings of the innocents and the success of the wicked are puzzles that continue to confuse many who believe in a Just God. This seems to be the reason why many Christians, seldom make any effort to lead righteous lives again, since they see the ungodly prospering very well here on earth, despite their atrocious acts.

In the GOSPEL, Christ gave the second prediction of His passion, death and resurrection. This, He did, in order to prepare the minds of His disciples before it happens. Nonetheless, due to their worldly-mindedness, His disciples couldn’t grasp the meaning of such prediction, since they were already anticipating an earthly military messiah who would subdue the pagan Romans, and restore the former glories of the Israelites. Ipso facto, this gave rise to their arguments on whom should be the greatest. Perhaps, they wanted to establish a political ranks or distinctions as regards who would hold the principal post of honour among themselves, when Jesus Christ eventually conquers their enemies, and sets up His earthly Messianic Kingdom.

Moreover, Jesus Christ, perceiving their worldly thoughts, confronted the emptiness of their self-preoccupation by presenting them a little child as a model or symbol of His followers. That His followers are called to serve in humility and faith, with a childlike spirit and trust in the grace of God. This implies that, anyone who wants to be a disciple of Christ must become like children and consider himself or herself as a slave of all. Hence, the one who is the greatest would be the humble servant of others, particularly the poorest (Matt. 20:26).” So, as Christians we must place the poor and marginalized at the centre of our interests, initiatives and plans. Not ambitiously seeking our own selfish interests, which engender dispute, discord and disharmony. 

Regrettably, our discontentment with ourselves and our cravings for what another person owns destroy our inner peace, distort our perspective on life and make it difficult for us to love others. St. James enunciated this in the SECOND READING; that the basic violation of Christian code is concentration on self alone (selfish ambition) to the exclusion of others. Many people who are proud and ambitious especially when it comes to worldly affairs, always see themselves as wise persons. For selfish ambition is the worldly wisdom in its worse sense, and St. Paul made it clear to us: “To be worldly-minded (carnal) leads to death, but to be heavenly (spiritual) minded is life and peace (Rom. 8:6).”  Unfortunately, many people resort to the former instead of the latter, and that is the reason why they often become impatient with their fellow human beings; always stirring up quarrels, hatred, disunity, revenge, rivalry, and the likes, anywhere they are (Gal. 5:17-21).  

Moreover, pride, jealousy, hatred, selfish ambition and covetousness are the most offensive sins to God, and they are cancerous phenomena that are very injurious to humanity, which stem from the evil one. They are the rationale behind every family feuds, village quarrels and global confrontations. So, anytime we begin to nurse or exhibit hateful, revengeful, jealous, or antagonistic feelings against one another, then the evil spirit is at work within us to destroy us. Consequently, if care is not taken, these feelings may lead us to nefarious actions, and the climax is murder, either directly or indirectly (character assassination).

However, St. James gave us an overview of the wisdom that comes from God. It brings the person who is spiritually-minded: love, joy, peace, patience, humility, etc., (Gal.5:22-25). Therefore, we need to be on our guard against our human inclinations, and embrace humility which Jesus Christ our Master exemplified; though He was God, yet He emptied Himself as a humble servant, and was obedient unto death (Phil. 2:6-8). We can succeed, with the help of the Holy Spirit, when we make a resolute decision to love God sincerely as well as our fellow human beings. Furthermore, we can also achieve this by frequently going to confession (Sacrament of Reconciliation) so as to receive the grace to eschew hatred, jealousy, or antagonistic feelings against one another, and thus begin to love genuinely.

Finally, as Christians who belong to the same body of Christ, we are called to serve all in humility and faith, with a childlike trust in the grace of God. Placing the poor, destitute and marginalized at the centre of our interests, initiatives and plans. These will pave the way for us into God’s Heavenly Kingdom at the end of our sojourn here on earth.

Therefore, I pray that you and your family may receive the Power of the Holy Spirit, so that you can serve God and humanity with love, peace, humility and patience; and for those who are under oppression and attack by ungodly people, may the Almighty God deliver you, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!!!

Peace of Christ be with you…

Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.

Homily of 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B The Almighty God Loves and Cares for you…

POSITIONS OF HONOUR DEMAND HUMBLE SERVICES TO ALL. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/rev-fr-benjamin-okala/message
  1. Homily of 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
  2. Homily of 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
  3. Homily of 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
  4. Homily of 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.
  5. Homily of 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
  6. Homily of 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.
  7. EDUCATION WITHOUT CHARACTER AND MORALS: A CASE OF PARALYSIS OF THE MIND

My Homilies, Theological Reflections

The Dynamics of Life Journey!

 

Life is imbued with plethora of unforseen circumstances. Nevertheless, we must always trust in God Almighty for His Divine assistance…

Peace of Christ be with you…

Rev. Fr. Benjamin Okala, C.S.Sp.

My Homilies

Homily of 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

1st Reading: Isaiah 50:5-9; 2nd Reading: James 2:14-18; Gospel: Mark 8:27-35

THEME: GOD IS ALWAYS PRESENT IN OUR SUFFERINGS.

Naturally, every human person likes comfort, and abhors sufferings, sacrifices or anything that would discomfort or inflict pains upon him or her. However, life itself is imbued with plethora of sacrificial enterprises. Even in our secular world, any successful person would tell you that achieving greatness is not a bed of roses. Like many successful entrepreneurs: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Marc Zuckenberg, Philip Emeagwali, etc, who achieved material greatness for the betterment of humanity, had no secret formula for their success, rather they were faced with many sufferings and sacrifices. This implies that, challenges, misfortunes, sufferings (cross), etc., are, but the very essential aspects of life, and in order for anyone to achieve greatness in life, he or she must be ready to embrace sacrifices or sufferings as his or her companions.

In the FIRST READING, prophet Isaiah foretold the mission of the Messiah, which would be to liberate humanity. As God’s servant, His heart and ears would always be open so as not to miss any instruction from God. However, in the process of carrying out God’s plans for humanity, He would experience humiliations, persecutions, hatred and oppositions which would culminate to His sacrificial death on the cross; but through these sufferings, He would enter into His glory (Lk. 24:26).

In the GOSPEL, despite many good works Jesus had performed, yet people never recognized His true identity (the Messiah), but gave divergent opinions or conjectures about Him. But Jesus wanted His disciples to give a personal account of Himself instead of what others were saying about Him. Thus, through the revelation given by the Holy Spirit, Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!” Jesus admitted the truth of Peter’s declaration, and thus plainly announced His real mission, which would be embellished with sufferings, death and resurrection. He revealed this to them so as to forestall and erase any wrong ideas of a political leader which some of the Apostles might have, but instructed them not to disclose His real identity until His mission is being accomplished.

Interestingly, what Jesus did here in the Gospel is similar to a term in psychology known as Johari’s Windows, which is a useful model for self-awareness and identifying the personality of a person in a group. Ipso facto, it is very pertinent for us to always seek for feedback which helps us to grow both socially, intellectually and spiritually. It is not enough to have the Ecclesiological and Christological knowledge that talk about the Church and Jesus Christ respectively, or to obtain a PhD in theology, without having any personal discovery of Christ, through our daily crosses, so that we can bear authentic witness of the gospel.

Astonishingly, Christ’s disciples couldn’t imagine a Messiah with such power from God to be put to death, and how could a dead man rise again. Moreover, because the Jews had a prolonged historical political domination and oppression by successive foreign powers, it made them began to anticipate an earthly military or political messiah who would forcefully revolt against the Pagan Romans, as at that time, and thus, restore the glorious days of the Israelites during King David’s reign. They never envisaged a Messiah to come and suffer any misfortune, and that was why Peter, as an elder, wanted to dissuade Jesus Christ from His mission, since no one brags with suffering.

However, seeing the manipulative utterance of Peter who just professed Jesus as the Messiah not quite long ago, Jesus immediately, rebuked him saying, “Get behind me Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but man’s.” Meanwhile, Peter was not actually referred to as devil, but a tempter (opponent) whose way of reasoning is carnal or human construct. He was having a human outlook on God’s purpose and wanted to stop Jesus Christ, not knowing that his perspective was actually opposing God’s will. This implies that, sometimes certain thoughts or decisions we make as humans, may not actually be divinely certified, since they do not help us in fulfilling God’s will, rather our own selfish gain. For the scripture says, “There is a way that seems right unto a man and the end is death (Provb. 16:25).” When we do not pay attentive ear to the voice of God for the direction of His divine plans for us, we may not actually know that He is always present amidst our sufferings, not to talk of knowing what He is saying to us at that moment, which may gain us salvation.

Certainly, the cross (suffering) is a symbol of Christ’s redemptive action, which every Christian should be ready to endure, since out of love and obedience to the voice of God, Christ humbly and patiently sacrificed His life, and bore His sufferings in order to save humanity. He told His disciples that anyone who really wants to follow Him, must be ready to pay attention to the instructions that would be given him/ her through the Holy Spirit, which sometimes may lead to the paths of suffering (Mk. 8:34). So, if we want to experience the glorious splendor of the divine majesty, then we should be ready, like the Apostles of Christ, to endure the challenges accruing from the vicissitudes of life (Rom. 8:16-17), for God’s grace will always be sufficient for us even in our struggles (2 Cor. 12:7-10).

Surprisingly, many people often forget that suffering or sacrifice is the conditio sine qua non (necessary condition) for authentic Christianity, and without which no crown or glory can be attained. For they are ways of partaking in the sufferings of Christ. So, anyone who claims to love, sacrifices of his or her time, energy, resources, etc, should be the basis for such love. Remove the cross or sacrifice, then there is no love, and where there is no love, there is no Christianity. For instance, like St. Paul and other disciples of Christ who brought down the gospel to us, suffered grievously in order to be glorified or crowned saints. At a point, when the suffering was too much, and St. Paul wanted them be removed, but God told him, “..my grace is sufficient for you (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Thus, he began to boost in his sufferings for Christ’s sake.

Similarly, just like St. Paul and many Christians, I personally (Fr. Ben), had passed through plethora of sufferings before I became a priest: When I was young during my primary education, I fell from a storey building and broke my ribs; during my secondary school days, I had severe accidental leg injuries; at the university level, I broke my ribs again during football. Also when I was doing my national youth service (NYSC) in 2005, as the best goalkeeper then, I represented Edo state at Abuja, and during the match I fell on top of a stone and broke my ribs again for the third time. In 2009, when I resigned from my job and entered seminary, that first year, I had an accident and my lips tore, and was stitched. After 6 months the same year, I had a slipped disc, which kept me bedridden for two months. In 2016, I broke my leg again, my ankle pulled out from the joint and faced backwards. I was on Plaster Casts (POP) and with clutches for almost one year. The climax of all these challenges was on 23rd December 2016, when I caught pneumonia, which blocked my heart and lungs and I could not breathe again. Consequently, I passed away, but through divine intervention I later came back to life after some hours to the glory of God. In all these sufferings, I never despaired, but had faith in God, and His grace was really sufficient to carry me through, and thus I was very joyful amidst the pains; seeing them as my own share of sufferings in following Christ.

Unfortunately, many Christians, like St. Peter in the Gospel, make the mistake of attributing sufferings to manipulative or projected curse, which is unacceptable and must be resisted by force. Hence, they spend more time moving from one prayer house to another looking for deliverance, or for a way to get quick riches without making any reasonable effort to push away the frontiers of illiteracy or ignorance, and then begin to work hard so as to achieve greatness or even to earn a living. Even some pastors or ministers of the Gospel tend to brainwash their congregation into believing that a child of God cannot suffer any misfortune (sickness, disappointment, lack & want, etc.), instead of going to the hospital first for the treatment of the sick ones (though not all cases are medically oriented) and waiting patiently for God in prayers (divine assistance). This is a wrong Christian teaching (theology).

Surely, there are moments in our lives we may undergo serious training or drilling in order for us to achieve our purpose in life. Like gold, which must be refined in a furnace before it can actually produce a pure or fine gold. For the scriptures made us to understand that, “Good people suffer many tribulations, but the Lord will deliver them (Ps. 34:19).” Jesus Christ even confirmed this when He told His disciples that; “In the world, you will suffer many tribulations, but be courageous, I have conquered the world (Jn. 16:33).”

Therefore, since Christ has suffered for us out of love, we too should emulate His footsteps and reciprocate this love, by accepting difficulties or sufferings for the sake of others. Just like St. James said in the SECOND READING, our faith is dead without the heart of God. It is meaningless without compassionate service to the poor and needy. For authentic Christian life demands that one is ever ready to sacrifice one’s own convenience and pleasure for God’s Sake. This is the real meaning of faith in action, ipso facto, practical Christianity.

Finally, we should always:

(1) Give gratitude to God the Father for allowing His Son to undergo such rigorous roads for our sake;

(2) Bear our own daily crosses patiently and gladly; and

(3) Help the needy to carry their crosses by providing them with the basic necessities of life, while relying on divine assistance (God’s Grace) to see us through.

I pray that by the Power of the Holy Spirit, may the Grace of God be sufficient for you in your difficulties or sufferings, and at the end, may you gain eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.

Homily of 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B The Almighty God Loves and Cares for you…

POSITIONS OF HONOUR DEMAND HUMBLE SERVICES TO ALL. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/rev-fr-benjamin-okala/message
  1. Homily of 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
  2. Homily of 28th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
  3. Homily of 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B
  4. Homily of 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.
  5. Homily of 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

My Homilies

Homily of 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

1st Reading: Isaiah 35: 4-7; 2nd Reading: James 2:1-5; Gospel: Mark 7:31-37

THEME: WE ARE GOD’S INSTRUMENTS OF HEALING AND RESTORATION.

In our contemporary society, some of the horrendous and precarious situations (insecurity, injustice, crime, delinquency, poverty, inflation, wickedness, etc.) encumbering us, mostly occur as a result of our insensitivity and deafness to the truth or common good. Unfortunately, many people are tired of listening to sound doctrine (truth). Some intentionally close their ears from listening to God’s Word not to talking of proclaiming it, while others are too shy or nonchalant to evangelize, or to speak against societal ills. Also, many who are at the helm of affairs (civil & religious) intentionally close their eyes and ears to the sufferings of their subjects (proletariat), especially the poor (anawims).

Sequel to this, evil prevails unabatedly, and our society continues to swim in the ocean of socio-economic, cultural and political quagmires. Due to the prevalence of all these overwhelming debacles, many people, especially Christians are dismayed, and beginning to doubt the efficacy of God’s word or His presence in our society.

In the FIRST READING, seeing the precarious situation of the Israelites, God made a promise through prophet Isaiah that He will come at the appointed time (messianic era) to avenge the cause of the poor, and free them from that which oppresses them or hinders their fruitfulness. His coming will be victory over all forms of maladies (physical or spiritual), slavery and inhuman situations.

Fortunately, today’s GOSPEL brings to limelight the fulfillment of this messianic prophecy, where Jesus Christ, out of compassion, healed a man who had suffered serious speech and hearing impediments, which subjected him to cultural stigmatization, social discrimination, and psychological trauma; thereby limiting his association and communication with others in the society. Meanwhile, this man represents those whose ears or hearts are closed, and cannot listen to the gospel of Christ or proclaim His wondrous deeds with their mouths; and also those who are insensitive to the plights of people around them.

Although Christ did heal the deaf and dumb, blind and lame physically, however, there is more implied here than mere bodily cures; which are signs of the spiritual restoration. Moreover, this restoration is being ratified during our baptism, when the priest touches our ears and mouth by saying: ”The Lord Jesus Christ made the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak. May He (soon) touch your ears to receive His word, and your mouth to proclaim His faith, to the praise and glory of God the Father.” This sacramental or spiritual gesture empowers us to listen and be illumined by the power of God’s word, and thus, proclaim it to all nations.

However, it is not only having the ability to hear and preach God’s Words, but to become Christ’s instruments of healing and restoration in our society: With our eyes, we see the challenges and impediments of our neighbors; with our ears we listen to their problems; with our legs we reach out to the poor (physical, spiritual & psychological), and with our mouths we speak words of consolation and encouragement for the voiceless in our society. For God cannot come down physically to solve human problems, rather through the Holy Spirit, He uses human persons (us) to communicate or reach out.

Furthermore, one of the ways we mediate God’s creative power to others is by listening attentively to them without discrimination. St. James avers this in the SECOND READING, that fraternal charity can make no distinction of persons. Our ability to give listening ear to people is more important than what we speak or do for them. For many people are looking for whom to share their problems with; since problem shared is half solved. Hence, that act of listening to people in a non-judgmental manner, and giving everybody (both rich and poor) equal treatment, can be a powerful life-giving spirit to them.

Regrettably, there are people, mostly Christians who because of their worldly wealth or positions expect and demand special respect for themselves. Even some of our religious leaders, discriminatorily marginalize and oppress the poor, and give special honor to the rich because of the fat envelopes they would gain from them. But according to St. James, Christians who give special honour to such persons are already passing judgement with evil thoughts, and thereby usurping God’s right.  For the earthly wealth or position are no criterion for distinction in the Christian community, since all are equal before God (Gal. 3:28).

Finally, as Christians, we are called to be God’s instruments of healing and restoration in our society. There should not be any form of social discrimination or cultural stigmatization among us. For God does not discriminate (Rom. 10:12). As a matter of fact, He even shows preference for those that are poor in worldly goods, but are rich spiritually. Therefore, let us be sensitive to the challenges of those around us, especially the poor, so that they may experience God’s healing touch through our relationship with them.

Therefore, I pray that you may be healed from every maladies of spiritual deafness and dumbness through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

Rev. Fr. Ben Okala, C.S.Sp.

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