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Month: January 2022

The Character of a True Prophet

HOMILY OF 4TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C.

A TRUE PROPHET IS A LOVING AND CARING PERSON

First Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:31, 13:1-13; Gospel: Luke 4: 21-30.

The Almighty God created humanity out of love. When humanity had fallen due her disobedience, God did not abandon her, rather He did everything possible to reconcile her back to Himself. In the past, He used many people as His spokesmen or prophets in order to carry out this mission. But these prophets were rejected and despised by the people He loved and wanted to save from eternal damnation. Nevertheless, God never turned His back on humanity because of their hostile reactions, rather He continued to show her love.

The First Reading highlights the call of Prophet Jeremiah who was one of the spokesmen chosen by God to proclaim His words to the nations. Initially, this task unnerved Jeremiah, but God encouraged and reassured him that He would be with him despite the hostile reactions of the people: “Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD(Jeremiah 1:18-19).

Meanwhile, last Sunday, the Jews listened to the Word of God with maximum attention and reverence, and thus were deeply touched, enlightened, empowered, and filled with great joy. But in today’s Gospel, we have a different scenario. When Jesus preached the Word of God to His own people, His Words caused a strong reaction as they were listening to Him: some were positively fascinated, while others, due to overfamiliarity, despised and rejected Him, and even tried to kill Him. Being surprised at their lack of faith, Jesus told them that, “… a prophet is not honoured in his own country” (Luke 4:24). In spite of that, Jesus Christ never declined from showing them love.

Unfortunately, due to overfamiliarity, jealousy, prejudice, pride etc; many have lost their God given opportunities which they would have benefited from talented people very close to them. Some even try to pull such persons down through castigation, backbiting, gossips, conspiracy, etc, because they know them very well. This is one of the reasons why things go wrong in the society, because those who would have impacted positively for the growth and development of that particular society are being ignored, rejected and despised. Hence, no much success would be recorded.

Undoubtedly, our world today prefers lies rather than truth, because truth is always bitter to accept, swallow and digest. The moment you speak truth, you lose your popularity. One of the consequences of speaking the truth is rejection. Consequently, many people shy away from speaking the truth and against the evil bedeviling our society for fear of being maligned, rejected or even killed, thereby allowing injustices to prevail.  

Moreover, by the virtue of our baptism, we have become priests, kings and prophets. As prophets, we are called to courageously proclaim the Word of God and speak against the ills of our society as well as the injustices meted out on innocent people without being afraid of whose ox is gored. However, according to St. Paul in the Second Reading, this gift of prophecy can rightly be exercised through love. If one has the gifts of oratory, healing, wisdom, or to pull down mountains, but does not love his or her fellow human being, then that gift is of no value at all. Every gift we have comes from God (James 1:17), so that we can use them charitably for the good of others. For a true prophet is a loving and caring person.

Therefore, we must stand up and speak out for truth, justice and right. As Christians, we cannot but speak the truth always, for God is truth. Telling lies in order to please people implies that we prefer to follow the devil, the father of lies. Certainly, people will fight against us for proclaiming and living the life of Christ, but they will never prevail, because the Almighty God has made us ‘pillars of iron, fortified cities, wall of brass, and He is always with us. For one with God is majority (Romans 8:31).

Finally, there are some people whom God might have placed in our lives to help us, do we reject or despise them because we are close to them or because we see them as enemies? Definitely, in our daily lives as Christians, there will always be moments of trial, misunderstanding and rejection especially by those very close to us. Nevertheless, we should not allow their shenanigans to discourage us, rather we must always have Faith in God and continue to show them love just like St. Paul averred in the second reading. For God loves and cares for us so much, and gave us His only begotten son in order to save us from eternal damnation. He has never denied us His blessings and mercies, but continues to forgive us all the time even when we continue sin against Him. So, we are called to always show kindness and mercy to our fellow human beings.

May the Almighty God protect you from the hands of those who plot evil against you, and give you the grace to always be patient in your challenges and also to proclaim His message to all with care and love, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

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

The Efficacious Power of the Word of God

HOMILY OF 3RD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C.

THEME: THE POWER OF GOD HAS SET YOU FREE!

First Reading: Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-30; Gospel: Luke 1: 1-4, 4:14-21.

Words are the most effective weapon of a human person, and the most influential tools in communication. Both written and spoken words are very efficacious. Whatever we write or say has the ability to influence people to a greater extent, either positively or negatively. We can use words to heal, comfort, inspire or build others; on the contrary, we can also use it to instigate fear or hatred; to destroy or tear people down. So, if the words of human beings are very effective like this, how much more the Words spoken by the God Almighty?

In the First reading, Ezra, the priest of God, played a major role in the restoration of the people of Judah who had come back from exile. He assembled all of them, and thus proclaimed the Word of God to them. They listened to the Word of God from early morning till midday with maximum attention and reverence, and thus were deeply touched, enlightened, empowered, and filled with great joy. They felt the Power of the Word of God, and some of them wept profusely immediately they heard about the tremendous works God had done for them in the past out of love, although their ancestors later disobeyed His commands. But Ezra encouraged them to rejoice and not mourn, for joy of the Lord is their strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

In the Gospel reading, Jesus Christ, filled with the Power of the Holy Spirit, proclaimed the Word of God with authority to a great assembly, which was written about Him by prophet Isaiah: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…” As people listened with maximum attention, He declared to them: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing (Luke 4:18-19). He proved that He is the Word made flesh by demonstrating clearly and practically that everything written is being fulfilled.

Jesus Christ is the Word of God (Revelation 19:13), He is the Power of God which created the whole universe, and brought everything into existence (John 1:1-3). According to Him, It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). And as the psalmist says, “He sent out His word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction(Psalm 107:20).

This implies that, whenever the Word of God is being proclaimed, the Power of the Holy Spirit takes absolute preeminence. This is also evident when St. Peter preached the Word of God to the congregation, and as they were listening, immediately, the Holy Spirit fell on them (Acts 10:44). Hence, the Word of God is the most powerful weapon that has the ability to liberate, heal, transform, create, and restore any bad situation in the universe; human words are limited.

Undoubtedly, whenever we listen to the Word of God with faith and maximum concentration, we always gain spiritual nourishment, as well as transformation, liberation and healing taking place inside us. Thus, we receive spiritual gifts or talents which will enable us to continue spreading the gospel of Christ anywhere we find ourselves (Matthew 28:19-20). If we allow the Word of God which is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) to take root in us, then we would begin to understand that all of us Christians, irrespective of our individual gifts or calling, tribe or race, are one body and one Spirit, and are called for the same purpose, just as St. Paul enunciated in the Second reading.

Therefore, when we abide in the LORD and allow His Words to dwell in us, then we can ask anything we want from God and He will definitely grant it to us (John 15:7). That is when we truly become God’s instrument of peace, love, justice, equity and fairness in our society. We begin to liberate people who are oppressed, bring enlightenment to people by freeing them from enslavement and ignorance with the truth of the gospel, and also heal them from every form of psychological, emotional and spiritual maladies. For when they know the truth, they shall be set free (John 8:32).

Finally, in as much as our human words are very effective in human or societal development, though they are limited, but God’s Words are more powerful, because they are eternal. When our words agree with God’s word, there would be divine restoration, healing, breakthrough, love, peace, etc. in our lives. So, as Christians, we are called to always listen to the Word of God with maximum attention and reverence. Also, to use the Word of God, through our words, to bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor… to build and not destroy, to heal and not to inflict pains.

Therefore, I pray that the Almighty God, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, may help you and your entire family to always be attentive to His Words, set you free from any difficult situation in your life, fortify you by the Power of His Words so as to become His instrument of liberation and transformation in the world; through Jesus Christ, Amen!!!

Peace of Christ be with you…

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

Jesus Christ turned water into wine

HOMILY OF 2ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C.

THEME: THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL BEAUTIFY AND CELEBRATE YOU THIS YEAR 2022

First Reading: Isaiah 62:1-5; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; Gospel: John 2:1-11

A joyful celebration is one of the activities or phenomena that many people always long to experience in life. This is because, most times, it enhances conviviality and harmony among them, which also tend to increase their sense of well-being, regardless of socio-economic factors. Moreover, some people celebrate their anniversaries, memorials, feasts, or achievements regularly, while others who have been passing through moments of excruciating challenges, sufferings, disappointments, etc., but hopeful for the day of restoration and breakthrough, yearn for such joyous opportunities when the chapter of their own life will be opened.

In the First Reading, through Prophet Isaiah God gave a message of hope and consolation to all those (God’s Children) who have been passing through moments of excruciating challenges, and promised to restore their land to glory: “… for your sake I will not rest, until your vindication shines out like the dawn, and your salvation like a burning torch…; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight is in Her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married” (Isaiah 62:1-4).

This promise of glorious restoration came to limelight in today’s Gospel, when Jesus Christ performed His first miracle at Cana after His Baptism by turning water into wine.  Meanwhile, when her mother, Blessed Virgin Mary, noticed that the wine of the celebrants had finished, she interceded immediately: “They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:3-5).

Since the hour of His supreme self-manifestation had not yet come, Jesus Christ was reluctant to manifest His power. But, because of the loving compulsion of His mother, He consented to her plea in order to save the couple from unnecessary embarrassment. It would have been a great shame for the couple and for the family to send the guests away without wine, since in Palestine, any marriage feast without wine is no marriage feast at all. Meanwhile, the old wine which had finished symbolizes the Old Law (excruciating moments) and the new wine symbolizes the abundance of the grace that comes through Jesus Christ (joyous moments).

Moreover, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary shows her solicitude for human beings in their moments of challenges and needs. Out of loving concern for human beings, she brings their needs and predicaments within the radius of Christ’s saving power. This gesture is a mysterious indication of her unique maternal role in the entire economy of Christian grace; that she can never abandon her children in time of difficulties. As a mother, she places herself between her Son and humanity in the reality of their sufferings and needs. This implies that the presence of Jesus Christ and Blessed Virgin Mary in our lives will always engender divine favour, peace and joyous celebrations, and also save us from shame.

In the Second Reading, St. Paul reminds us that: “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good(1 Corinthians 12:4-7). So, by the virtue of our Baptism, we have become children of God and members of the Church (Christ’s Bride), who have been nourished with Spiritual gifts, and commissioned to radiate joy of the Holy Spirit in the world, through our God-given gifts or talents. For Christianity is all about bringing joy and happiness into people’s lives. That is, touching the lives of people positively so as to alleviate their sufferings, in such a way that through our actions, people may always have reasons to celebrate joyfully to the glory of God.

Finally, after the Baptism of Jesus Christ, He began His public ministry (Salvific work) by bringing joy and happiness in the lives of the couple in a wedding feast at Cana, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, her mother.

Therefore, let us always do the following:

  1. To always listen to the voice of God through the scriptures and obey His commands, just as the Blessed Virgin Mary said: “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5).
  2. To emulate Jesus’ actions by using our gifts or talents for the common good.
  3. To always seek the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary in our lives especially when we are in difficulties by praying our Rosary daily. For Jesus Christ will never refuse any request made by her mother.
  4. To always emulate Mary’s compassionate and intercessory Spirit by showing people our concerns especially when they are in difficulties, and always pray for them.
  5. To always touch the lives of people positively by showing them real love. For whenever people glorify God because of the kindness and true love we have shown to them, the Holy Spirit who empowered us to bring joy and happiness into their lives, will continue to beautify, sanctify and celebrate us.

Therefore, I pray that the Almighty God, through the Power of the Holy Spirit, may deliver you and your entire family from excruciating experiences and shame, and grant you all divine restoration, breakthrough, open door, mega blessings and spiritual upliftment, so that you may always have moments of joyous celebrations all the days of your lives in the mighty name of Jesus Christ, Amen!!!

Peace of Christ be with you…

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

The Baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ

THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

THEME: WE ARE INITIATED TO BEAR AUTHENTIC WITNESS FOR CHRIST IN THE WORLD!

First Reading: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Second Reading: Titus 2:11-14; 3:4-7; Gospel: Luke 3:15-16; 21-22

Traditionally, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord officially marks the End of the Christmas Season, which then ushers the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, that is, Christ’s acceptance and inauguration of His mission as God’s servant, and also the beginning of the Ordinary Time of the Church’s liturgical year and calendar. This feast is the second Epiphany, God revealing Himself to sinners in the person of Christ, whereby God, through the Holy Spirit declared the Identity of the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit as His Beloved Son. It is can also be referred to as “Theophany”, that is, manifestation of God, the manifestation of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, and the wondrous manifestation of the august mystery of the most Holy Trinity.

In some African cultures, for anyone to be accepted, enrolled or allowed to participate in any group, he or she must undergo Initiation Ceremonies (Rite of Passage) such as; Circumcision, Child-naming, Purification, etc., so as to be reborn into a new role. Similarly, before anyone becomes a full member of the Christian community, he or she must undergo an Initiation Ceremony, such as; Baptism and Confirmation, which imprint indelible marks (sacramental characters) to the recipients. Through these ceremonies, the person receives an Ontological Identity as a Son or Daughter of a particular community.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Baptism is a sacrament that cleanses us from original sin, make us Christians, children of God and members of the Church. It is a Sacrament of Initiation that purifies us from all our sins, rescues us from the power of darkness (Colossians 1:13-14) and brings us to the dignity of adopted children of God (Romans 8:15). It is the sacrament of salvation and the gateway to all other sacraments. Christian initiation is accomplished by means of the sacraments which establish the foundations of Christian life. The faithful born anew by Baptism are empowered by Confirmation and are then nourished by the Holy Eucharist. Thus, this is an invitation to participate in the fulness of the life of God through charity, forgiveness, humility, obedience, fidelity, etc.

Moreover, Baptism establishes a new relationship between us and God, incorporates us into Christ, and initiates us into Community of believers. Thus, it confers on our Souls a Permanent Character (Ontological Identity), designating permanent relationship with Christ and His Church. Of course, Baptism, together with Confirmation and Holy Orders (priestly ordination) are the only sacraments that imprint indelible spiritual marks (sacramental characters) on the receivers. Hence, through baptism, we become a new creation, old things pass away, everything becomes new (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is a precious gift that comes from God’s gracious love and not as a result of what we have done.

Also, by the virtue of our baptism, we become priests, kings and prophets so as to continue in the work of creation and the salvific work in the world as soldiers of Christ. That is why before Jesus Christ ascended into heaven, He commissioned His disciples with this Great Mandate: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). Hence, we are commissioned to bear authentic witness for Christ in the world.

Meanwhile, after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 597 B.C., the Judeans went into exile where they suffered grievously and wallowed in darkness. At some point, they began to query the faithfulness and omnipotence of their God who had allowed His people to suffer defeat in the hand of a pagan nation. However, in the FIRST READING, God revived their drooping spirits through prophet Isaiah; assuring them that their years of suffering, slavery and darkness have come to an end. Although He allowed them to be captured by their enemies due to their disobedience, but will soon redeem them and bring them back home, so that their souls may live. But in order to experience the fullness of God’s glory, He invites them to fill up every valley and level every mountain on their way, that is, repentance.

Surprisingly, in the GOSPEL, before His public ministry, Jesus Christ who had NO SIN, yet came to receive John’s Baptism of repentance, why? First, He did that so as to identify Himself with all sinners, take their sins upon Himself, do penance for them and thus expiate their sins with His Blood. By so doing, He sanctified the water of Baptism for the purification of the souls of those that would come to Him through it, so that they can be forgiven and thus renewed. For during baptism, we die with Christ and rise with Him in the newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).

Furthermore, the second reason was, for John (His Precursor) to recognize Him as the Messiah and thus present Him to his audience as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). For John the Baptist did not know whom the Messiah was, but had been given a sign by which he would recognize Him: “I myself did not know Him, but the One who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit” (John 1:33).

Moreover, the third reason was, for the scriptures to be fulfilled, because immediately John recognized Christ, he wanted to dissuade Him and said: “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as He came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to Him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:14-17).

In the SECOND READING, St. Paul urges us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, which tend to send us into spiritual exiles, but to live sober, upright and godly lives in this world. Since through Baptism we have received New Life (Ontological Identity) in Christ, we participate in His death and resurrection, and have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to become partners with Christ in His redemptive mission. So, in order to be truly part of Christ’s life, St. Paul enjoins us (Ambassadors of Christ) to keep to the demands of our baptism, that is, living a life filled with love, humility, patience, justice, perseverance, prayer, righteousness, kindness, forgiveness, hospitality, generosity, etc., so as to renew the face of the earth.

Finally, since out of His Love for humanity, Jesus Christ bore witness to the Father through Water (His Baptism) and Blood (His Death), and the Holy Spirit testifies this truth, and also delivered us from the powers of darkness, therefore, let us with faith, reciprocate this Love of God by bearing authentic witness for Christ in our families, communities, and in the world at large. This can be actualized through our repentance (sacrament of reconciliation), and by practically extending our love and charity to others; by so doing, they may emulate us and be drawn to Christ.

Peace of Christ be with you…

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

Epiphany of the Lord Jesus Christ

THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD

First Reading: Isaiah 60:1-6; Second Reading: Ephesians 3:2-3; 5-6; Gospel Matthew 2:1-12.

THEME: THE GLORIOUS SPLENDOR OF GOD ALMIGHTY IS ALWAYS WITH YOU!

God is ubiquitous as well as multidimensional, but He freely manifests or reveals His Glorious Splendor to anyone who seeks Him sincerely, and also guides the person throughout his or her endeavors.

Meanwhile, in order to keep the hope of the Israel’s exilic returnees alive, prophet Isaiah in the FIRST READING envisioned the splendor of the future Jerusalem, which the Special Radiance of God 🔥✨💥 will illuminate, and all the nations will come to share in it, bearing their gifts. That the gloom of sadness and despair which enveloped the derelict Jerusalem during their exile will give way to a heavenly brightness, for God will dwell within it once more. So that the gentiles would forsake their idols and partake in that light. The light of the world that shines in darkness and dispels it (John 8:12; 1:5). This light mostly comes through the Word of God (Jesus Christ – Revelation 19:13). Just as the scripture says, “The entrance of the Word of God brings light(Psalm 119:130).

Gloriously, the prophecy of Isaiah has been fulfilled in today’s Feast of Epiphany (manifestation or appearance of a Special thing or a Person). It is the Feast that commemorates the manifestation of God to all humanity through the Gentiles without limitation. God Manifested Himself to the Gentiles through the Magi (Wise Men/ Astrologers). These Magi who were named Mechoir, Caspar and Balthazar were the learned scientists from Persia, India and Arabia respectively, who superstitiously believed that each person has a star, and the person’s fate is being governed by that star (horoscopes). This is not true, it is only God that controls people’s destiny (Jeremiah 29:12-13).

However, God used the Magi’s superstition to teach them the truth, and in response to the Spirit of God, their lives were transformed. This revelation to the Gentiles implies that God can use any means to reveal Himself to anyone He chooses. Also, we should not monopolize God, like the Jews who believed that the Messiah is for them only, and not for others, thinking that we have it all and no other people or persons have the knowledge of God.

Furthermore, in the GOSPEL, the Magi (Astrologers) wouldn’t have experienced the Full Splendor of the Divine Light 💥 (New Born King) only with their human knowledge, predictions or superstitions if they had not consulted the Scriptures, which finally led them to Christ. This implies that our talents, culture, and academic qualifications alone are limited, and cannot truly help us to experience Divine Revelation/ Manifestation, until we allow the Light of the Holy Spirit to guide us through the Scriptures. For the Word of God is Power (Romans 1:16), which has the ability to transform us and push away the frontiers of ignorance and darkness in our lives.

Unfortunately, instead of seeing jubilant people, rather the Magi found suspicion, indifference and hatred in the reigning King (Herod) – a hatred which later culminated to the Massacre of Holy Innocents (Matthew 2:16-18). Among the religious leaders they found knowledge of their past history, but utter indifference as regards the present and the future. These leaders knew the birth place of the Messiah, that is, Bethlehem, but refused to admit the truth. Subsequently, in some years later, they tried to stifle the propagation of the good news brought by Jesus Christ; refusing to admit Him as the Messiah. This is what happens when we are over ambitious.

Moreover, some of our leaders today are like Herod who doesn’t want rivals on his way. They see talented persons as threats and thus, using subtle techniques to discredit or subdue them, yet smile before them. Some of them are sadists, they are always angry and embittered when they see people around them progressing. Some go to the extent of committing murder either directly (physical killing) or indirectly (character assassination) so as to ensure that they get rid of their rivals or someone they feel that is shining or progressing more than them. Just Imagine!

Nevertheless, there are no powers or plans of the evil one that will be able to stop the destiny (star) of anyone that is being guided by God Almighty; for no weapon formed against the person will be able to prosper (Isaiah 54:17). So, if God is for us, no man, woman, powers or forces can be against us, or stop us from fulfilling God’s purpose for our lives (Romans 8:31). Even if they try to stop us, God will still outsmart them the way He tricked Herod and his household in today’s Gospel. For the scripture says, “they shall plan and gather to attack you, but their plans will be scattered” (Deuteronomy 28:7; Isaiah 54:15).

So brethren, are you one of those standing as Herod in people’s lives? Are you blocking someone’s progress directly or indirectly? Are you denying someone his or her right because you are in authority? God Almighty is watching... Someone’s Destiny (Star ✨⭐) can be delayed, but cannot be denied. It must surely shine 💥 to the Glory of God. Since God’s Glory has shone upon us, no man born of a woman can stop our destiny which has been ordered by God (Isaiah 60:1-3; 44:24-26; Revelation 3:7-10).

Finally, God manifested Himself to the Magi through the Star, but today He manifests Himself to us through His WORDS and SACRAMENTS, especially in the HOLY EUCHARIST. So let us always adore and worship Him with our talents, gifts, resources and most importantly, with our lives forever. For the glorious splendor of God Almighty is always with us!

May the Glory of God guide you and dispel the darkness in your hearts, and protect you and your family from the plans of the evil ones, and may the glorious splendor of God Almighty help you to shine like bright star 💥 and fulfil your destiny triumphantly, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

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

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD

1st Reading: Numbers 6: 22-27; 2nd Reading: Galatians 4:4-7; Gospel: Luke 2:16-21.

THEME: THROUGH VIRGIN MARY, HUMANITY GAINED HER REDEMPTION!

Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. With Great Joy I welcome you all to New Year 2022. A year of Grace, Mercy, Favour, Miracle, Deliverance, Breakthrough, Restoration, Healing, Spiritual Upliftment, and Success in the name of Jesus Christ.

Today, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Motherhood of Mary. The divine motherhood is the highest summit of all the gifts of grace which she has received from the heavenly Father, the gift towards which all the others are destined. Mary’s entire life and holiness are projected towards the incomparable mission of allowing the realization of the mystery of the incarnation, the divine Word made flesh in her most pure womb. She is the gateway to the mystery of God and the key to the understanding of God, Christ, and the Church.

Meanwhile, the classical doctrine on the Missio Dei (The mission of God) as God the Father sending the Son, and God the Father and the Son sending the Spirit was expanded to include yet another “movement”: The Father, Son and the Holy Spirit sending the Church into the world. And this was made possible through the role played by the Blessed Virgin Mary in her acceptance to be the Theotokos (Mother of God or God’s Carrier), that, when the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world, through her (Galatians 4:4).

Moreover, Mary was brought into an intimate relationship with the Blessed Trinity. As far as missionary thinking was concerned, this linking with the doctrine of the Trinity constituted an important innovation. Besides, her relationship with the Three Divine Persons is entirely unique and eternally different from that of any other human being. She was the daughter of God the Father, Mother of Jesus Christ, and true spouse of the Holy Spirit. Next to Christ, she supplies the most accurate image of the Holy Spirit.

Certainly, to see Mary in her relationship to the Trinity we must first turn to the dogma of her Immaculate Conception (Mary’s spiritual birth and baptism); which states that from the first moment of her existence Mary was preserved from the taint of original sin due to the foreseen merits of Christ. For, it would certainly be against right reason to think that the All-Pure God, the Second Person of the Trinity could take flesh in a woman who was tainted by sin. For God prepared Mary in her conception that He might one day be born of her in time. 

In a certain way, the Blessed Virgin Mary unites and mirrors within herself the central truths of faith. Almost like a railway junction where many lines converge and where connections are established, she is the mirror reflecting the core truths of faith, the meeting point for a great many fundamental Christian doctrines. That is why in Vatican II, precisely – Lumen Gentium; Chapter 8, no. 53, the Church puts down in writing the tremendous and indispensable role Mary played in redemption. She calls her the “temple of the Holy Spirit”. Though her role in redemption was to be a purely human one, acting on behalf of mankind. It is a matter of great importance because every grace, virtue and supernatural gift, which Christ merited, is given to us by Mary and the Holy Spirit.

If through faith the Blessed Virgin Mary became the bearer of the Son given to her by the Father through the power of the Holy Spirit, while preserving her virginity intact, in that same faith she discovered and accepted the other dimension of motherhood revealed by Jesus Christ during His messianic mission. Hence, from Mary the Church also learns her own motherhood: she recognizes the maternal dimension of her vocation, which is essentially bound to her sacramental nature, in “contemplating Mary’s mysterious sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will.”

Furthermore, if the Church is the sign and instrument of intimate union with God, she is so by reason of her motherhood, because, receiving life from the Spirit, she “generates” sons and daughters of the human race to a new life in Christ. For, just as the Blessed Virgin Mary is at the service of the mystery of the Incarnation, so the Church is always at the service of the mystery of adoption to sonship through grace.

Consequently, through her “burning charity”, which sought to achieve, in union with Christ, the restoration of “supernatural life to souls,” Mary entered, in a way all her own, into the one mediation “between divinity and humanity.” Not only as our Mediatrix, but also as a mother she also wishes the messianic power of her Son to be manifested, that Salvific Power which is meant to help humanity in her misfortunes, to free her from the evil which in various forms and degrees weighs heavily upon her life.

This also lends credence to the statement made by St. John Paul II in his encyclical, that, “…the Church sees Mary in the saving mystery of Christ and in her own mystery; deeply rooted in humanity’s history and eternal vocation according to the providential plan which God has made for her from eternity. Mary is maternally present and sharing in the many complicated sufferings which today beset the lives of many people; … helping Christians in their constant struggle between good and evil, to ensure that they do not fall, or, if they have fallen, will rise again”(Redemptoris Mater, 1987, no. 52).

Finally, the Blessed Virgin Mary is the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe. Her exceptional pilgrimage of faith represents a constant point of reference for the Church, for individuals and for communities, for peoples and nations and, in a sense, for all humanity. She is already the eschatological fulfilment of the Church and the followers of Christ still strive to increase in holiness by conquering sin, and so they raise their eyes to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who shines forth to the whole community of the elect as a model of the virtues, in order to understand in its completeness the meaning of her own mission.

PRAYER:

As we begin the year 2022 today, I pray for divine intervention upon those who are looking for Job Opportunities, Traveling Visas or Passports, Promotion in offices, business growth and expansion (1Chronicles 4:10), life Partners (Proverbs. 18:22), Pregnant Women, Seeking the fruit of the Womb (Psalm 127:3), Sick (Ulcer, Diabetes, Hepatitis, Cancer, those who couldn’t conceive due to Blocked Fallopian Tubes, Mensural Flow problems, infertility, Fibroid, etc.), families under bondages, siege, living in disunity, living in abject poverty (destitute, eking for life…), living in fear, those that lack faith in God, weak in prayer and righteousness, that the Holy Spirit will shatter and level every Goliath or mountain in their lives and families…in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I also decree, let there be an inundation of the Power of God upon everyone under the sound of my voice now and may there be a miracle of Divine interconnectedness in your families so that you may experience the stupendous Power of the Holy Ghost this year 2022 for Divine Transformation, Restoration, Liberation, Mega Anointing and Spiritual Upliftment in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I declare Divine Mercies, Blessings, Open Doors, Healings, Deliverance, Miracles, Breakthroughs, Promotions, Divine Gifts (Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Piety, Counsel, Fortitude and Fear of God). I pray for the Spirit of Holiness and Purity, Prayer, Humility, Obedience, Self-control, and an increase in Faith so that this year 2022 and beyond, people may begin to see Jesus Christ and Blessed Virgin Mary in your Character, attitude/ behaviour and utterances to the glory of God, in name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

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

Happy New Year
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