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ALWAYS ALLOW GENUINE LOVE TO MOTIVATE OUR ACTIONS!

The Potrait of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ

SOLEMNITY OF THE MOST SACRED HEART OF JESUS

THE HEART OF CHRIST RADIATES LIFE AND LOVE!

1st Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-16; 2nd Reading: Romans 5:5- 11; Gospel: Luke 15:3-7

Today, the Universal Church celebrates the Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ. It is one of the most widely practiced and well known Catholic Devotions in the world.  This heart of Jesus Christ Symbolizes God’s infinite mercy, abundant and passionate love for humanity.

WHY DOES THE CHURCH CELEBRATE THIS FEAST?

We know that the heart is the seat of Love and where there is love there is life and health. Only a pure heart can love genuinely and unconditionally, and once you’re connected to that heart that is pure, life is being transferred or infused in you and you will be transformed. Jesus Christ is a Man with a Pure, Compassionate, Kind, Humble and Merciful Heart, Slow to Anger and abounding in Love. That is why He tells us in Matthew 11:28, to come to Him, those who are overburdened with heavy load in their hearts, that He will give them rest. Because He has come that we might have life and have it in abundance (John 10:10).

Meanwhile, in the first reading, through Prophet Ezekiel, God promised to seek out for His sheep; and to rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. Gloriously, this promise is being fulfilled in today’s Gospel, through Jesus Christ, the good Shepherd, who goes in search of the lost sheep, and, after finding it, rejoices with His neighbours. Certainly, it was because of the genuine Love He has for humanity that He decided to come as human in order to redeem her from her precarious and sinful state. Thus, Jesus reveals His compassionate love towards those who go astray, in order to reconcile them back to the Almighty God, who is the Source of Life, so that they might have life in fullness and live forever.

Moreover, He did this by shedding His precious Blood on the Cross and His Sacred Heart was pierced with a spear, and thus Blood and Water gushed out. Consequently, when He was raised up high on the Cross, He gave Himself for humanity with a Sacrificial Love; ratified by His precious Blood and Water pouring out from His pierced Heart, which is the wellspring of the Church’s Sacraments. So, that won over to the open Heart of our Saviour Jesus Christ, we might with Joy draw water from the well of Salvation (Isaiah 12:5).

Therefore, we need to make frantic efforts daily in order to be connected to this heart. For instance, a magnet has the ability to attract any metallic object and can transfer its properties to that metal when it is being attached to it for some time. Subsequently, that metal would become a temporal magnet and thus begins to attract other metallic objects. So also, if we faithfully attach ourselves to Jesus Christ on a daily basis through the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and Penance, and allow Him to dwell in our hearts, then His attributes of purity, compassion, kindness, humility, merciful heart, slowness in anger and unconditional love will definitely be infused or transferred into our hearts. When this transformation takes place in our hearts, we will be able to transform the lives of those we come in contact with on a daily basis.

Finally, since God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, just as St. Paul explains in the second reading, I enjoin you all today, to imitate that Heart that is Sacred, Pure and Lovely, so that you may have life in abundance and live forever.

PRAYER:

Say: Our Father … Hail Mary … Glory Be to the Father … O Most Sacred Heart 💘 ❤ of Jesus Christ, I place all my trust in you, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners, and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

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

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Happy Valentine's Day 💗

BRIEF REFLECTION ON VALENTINE’S DAY CELEBRATION!

Today February 14, is the Christian feast day of St. Valentine and the traditional day for sending a romantic card or gift, especially anonymously to somebody you love. Though it is not associated with erotic or promiscuous activities demonstrated by our contemporary youths. But a day we commemorate the sacrificial love of St. Valentine, who because of his love for the union of couples that loved themselves in Roman empire, was killed by Emperor Claudius II after placing an embargo on marriage in order for his soldiers to concentrate well in battle.

HISTORY OF VALENTINE’S DAY

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

Meanwhile, the history of Valentine’s Day which occurs every February 14, and the story of its patron saint is somehow vague. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman traditions. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

1) One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he placed embargo on marriage for young men. Valentine, seeing the injustice therein disobeyed the Emperor’s decree and continued to perform marriage rites secretly for young lovers. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, the Emperor ordered that he be put to death.

2) Still others insist that it was Saint Valentine of Terni, a Bishop, who was the true namesake of the holiday. He, too, was beheaded by Claudius II outside Rome.

3) Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured.

4) According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.

Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and most importantly, a romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

THE ORIGIN OF VALENTINE’S DAY: A PAGAN FESTIVAL IN FEBRUARY

Some believe that Valentine’s Day is being celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial, which probably occurred around 270 A.D., while others claim that the Christian Church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Just as other pagan celebrations were replaced with Christian celebration, Lupercalia celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

Before the festival begins, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide.

Interestingly, the Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Finally, as we recall the sacrifices St. Valentine made to save marriages and families in imitation of ONE SACRIFICIAL LOVE that brought us salvation, may you always make efforts to imitate CHRIST in any little way today by showing love to people around you. Also may you receive uncountable blessings and healing mercies from God’s Throne of Grace and Mercy through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Peace and Love of Christ be with you…

❤️ HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! ❤️

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

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.

Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Year C

First Reading: 1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28; Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24; Gospel: Luke 2:41-52

THEME: FAITH, SACRIFICIAL LOVE, RESPECT AND UNDERSTANDING SUSTAIN OUR FAMILIES.

The Family is a Divine Institution, not man made! It is the most fundamental community in human society in which couples are called to give themselves in mutual love and respect. It is also the first place where children learn about, both human and moral values, and the social virtues which every society needs. Virtually, all aspects of daily life are being taught in this basic community by parents to children on an informal level. That is why the scripture says, “Train children in the right way, and when they become old, they will not stray(Proverbs 22:6). Just as the foundation of every building is very important for its durability, same with that of the family.

Furthermore, one important aspect of creating this family community is the task of teaching the children. Parents always remain the primary educators of their children, both in theory and in fact (practice). The primary ‘lessons’ they teach are: how to pray, to be disciplined and to have reverence for God. Also how to be a truly human person: one who is free, able to make choices with a properly informed conscience; one able to love, care, forgive, respect, trust, apologize, appreciate, take responsibility, and serve others.

Certainly, when the children are trained properly in this manner, then the society becomes peaceable and habitable. For such are the examples they have learnt from their parents. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others, that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among the children (Familiaris Consortio, Pope JohnPaul II, Nov. 22, 1981, no. 36). 

Unfortunately, our society is in a despicable situation simply because, the foundations of some families are very faulty. Many families do not give their children good parental upbringing, and that is why when they grow up, they become wicked, disobedient, proud, traitors, and begin to constitute nuisance in the society. Of course, if the family’s foundation is not rooted in love, peace, unity, respect, fear of God, patience, mutual understanding, etc (Galatians 5:22-33), then there is bound to be hatred, acrimony, jealousy, suspicion, rash judgment, etc (Galatians 5:19-21).

The FIRST READING presents Hannah to us; a very humble, obedient and prayerful woman, whose faith in God was so strong that nothing could ever deter her from believing God’s promises for a child. At the appointed time, after fervent prayers, God blessed her with a child – Samuel. Meanwhile, Hannah refrained from making their annual pilgrimage possibly out of a desire to prolong the time she would nurse the child and give him good parental upbringing before presenting him to God as she promised. But she never took any decision on her own without a mutual agreement with her husband, Elkanah who always had reverence for God. No wonder Samuel grew up with the fear of God, respectful, responsible and obedient.

In the GOSPEL, the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph are put before us by the Church as a model for our families. That we call them “The Holy Family” does not mean that they didn’t have problems. They did have, rather they resolved it within themselves and not publicly. They also performed their respective roles diligently.

Certainly, the 3 Model Characters in this Holy Family lived exemplary lives. For instance, Joseph (Father) who was told about Mary’s pregnancy without his knowledge, being a reputable man of faith and someone that has reverence for God, he did not want to disgrace her publicly, but obeyed the instructions given to him by the Angel (Matthew 1:18-25). Even when Herod wanted to kill the Child Jesus, out of Love, he took absolute care of Him and Mary (Matthew 2:13-15). Also, he patiently and humbly worked at his carpenter’s bench so as to provide the necessities of life for his wife Mary and for the child Jesus. Can our Fathers love their wives like this?

Virgin Mary (Mother) was a very humble, patient, caring, lovely, selfless, respectful, obedient and prayerful woman, always compassionate, observant and docile to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. When she noticed that wine had finished at Wedding in Canaan, she interceded immediately so as to save the couples from unnecessary embarrassment (John 2:1-5). These virtues were the weapons she used to conquer the world, which are worthy of emulation! Can our mothers be compassionate and observant in the family like her?

Jesus (Son) stayed back in the Temple after Passover to converse with the Scholars and to teach them, as part of His mission in the world, but as soon as His parents who had been searching for Him came around, He followed them immediately and was obedient to their instructions all His days (Luke 2:43-52). He later grew up as a responsible, humble, obedient, respectful, caring, lovely, patient, compassionate and merciful personality. Can our children always emulate Him and be obedient to their parents like Him?

Meanwhile, for any family to live in Peace, there should be SACRIFICIAL LOVE, RESPECT and UNDERSTANDING. This implies that, one of the partners should be “BLIND” to some extent on certain issues concerning the family. By that I mean, he or she should overlook certain things in order for peace to reign, otherwise there would be misunderstanding and quarrels. The Husband should love his wife sincerely and treat her with gentleness, as Christ does for her bride (Ephesians 5:25). Also, the wife should be submissive to her husband (Ephesians 5:22), and the children should be obedient and supportive to their parents (Sirach 3:1-18)

Moreover, in order for Sacrificial Love, Respect and Understanding to be eminent and be sustained, these should be put into consideration: Praying Together, Tolerance, Forgiveness, Patience, Endurance, Trust, and Frequent use of Magic Words (I am sorry, please, excuse me, thank you, forgive me, I am grateful, etc). For it takes courage and personal integrity to teach children the truth: that people are more important than things; that human life has infinite value unconnected with wealth, beauty, intelligence, ability, etc.; that all people are equal; that they are lovable and loved; that they are called to chastity and holiness; that the ability to pray is the greatest gift they can have. Education is not just for human success; it must include the truths of our faith.

Finally, parents for their part, have the responsibility to train, care and nurture their children in every aspect of their lives, especially to teach them to be prayerful, to be disciplined and to have reverence for God. Also how to be a truly human person, able to make positive choices with a properly informed conscience; one able to love, care, forgive, respect, trust, apologize, take responsibility, and serve others. If parents fail to give their children good parental upbringing while they are growing, they may be indirectly contributing to the decadence of our society.

May the Almighty God through the anointing Power of the Holy Spirit, bring divine healing, breakthrough, restoration, everlasting joy, peace and love in your family, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

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

GOD CHOSE US FOR HUMBLE AND SACRIFICIAL TASKS.

Homily of 4th Sunday of Advent, Year C

THEME: GOD CHOSE US FOR HUMBLE AND SACRIFICIAL TASKS.

1st Reading: Micah 5:1-4; 2nd Reading: Hebrews 10:5-10; Gospel: Luke 1:39-45.

The ways of God are certainly not our ways and His mercy surpasses all human understanding (Isaiah 55:8-9). Yes, God does not choose people based on their class, positions of honour or popularity in order to fulfil His divine plans, rather He chooses the poor, lowly, weak, humble, or those that are always ready to selflessly sacrifice their comforts so as to save others.

In the FIRST READING, through Prophet Micah, God promised to send a Messiah (Saviour) to the world who would redeem humanity. Though, He wouldn’t come from a great city like Jerusalem or from a rich powerful family, but from a small, unknown, poor and insignificant tribe of Judah – Bethlehem. Meanwhile, many Prophets of the Old Testament had references to the coming Messiah, but Micah’s prophecy was one of the clearest, for he was precise on the birth place of the Messiah, which really helped the Magi to know the exact town the Messiah would be born.   

In the GOSPEL, the prophecy of Micah came to limelight when Virgin Mary visited Elizabeth. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit revealed to her and to the unborn child in her womb that her visitor and cousin was to be the Messiah’s Mother. Hence, filled with the Joy of the Holy Spirit immediately the Virgin Mary greeted her, Elizabeth was inspired to proclaim the dignity, the special position given to Mary in God’s plan for our redemption: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why has this been granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? … Blessed is she who believed that the things spoken to her from the Lord would find their fulfilment (Luke 1:42-45).”  

The SECOND READING reminds us today, the last Sunday of our preparation for Christmas, of the real meaning of the incarnation. It shows the deep sacrificial love, humility and obedience of Jesus Christ – the Messiah, who truly knows why God chose Him, and offered Himself to come into the world in order to save humanity from her precarious conditions. Undoubtedly, to be chosen by God so often means both crown of joy and cross of sorrow. The piercing truth is that God does not choose a person for ease, comfort and selfish joy, but chooses someone in order to use him or her for a serious task that will require the person’s commitments and devotions (Isaiah 49:5-6).

Finally, from the readings of today, it is obvious that God works in mysterious ways that are beyond human comprehension. He does not actually choose people that are popular, influential  or rather those that feel that they are powerful in the society in order to carry out His mission, rather He chooses those that are humble, obedient, and are willing to sacrifice themselves selflessly for the sake of others, for special and great tasks. For Love is Sacrifice. To love is to sacrifice one’s own convenience, energy, time, resources and talents for the sake of others. Where there is no sacrifice, there is no love, and where there is no love, then there is no Christianity.”

Although, we may be insignificant in the eyes of people in the world, perhaps because we do not belong to high class (bourgeoisie) personalities or rich powerful family, but once we sincerely and humbly love God and our fellow human beings, then God may use us at the appointed time to carry out big tasks, which may make us famous in the world, just like Bethlehem. Therefore, since Christ sacrificed His life for our sake, let us endeavor to sacrifice ourselves for others, and be the saviour of many families who are passing through difficult challenges in this Yuletide.

Peace of Christ be with you…

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

Homily of 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B.

THEME: LET US ALWAYS ALLOW GENUINE LOVE TO MOTIVATE OUR ACTIONS!

1st Reading: Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; 2nd Reading: James 1:17-18, 21-22.27; Gospel: Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

Prior to his demise, and knowing fully well that the Canaanites’ pagan practices would be so tempting to the Israelites, Moses exhorted them in the FIRST READING, to always remember and be faithful to God’s Ten Commandments that were given to them at Mount Sinai, without any form of alteration. So that, all may go well with them when they eventually settle down in Canaan. Even though the pagans would be superior to them in all earthly skills and traditions, but the Israelites’ knowledge of God would definitely astound those worldly-wise people.

Unfortunately, as time went on, the Israelites were negatively influenced by the Canaanites’ traditions, and thus, became wordily-minded and trivialized God’s laws. Subsequently, from the Ten Commandments, the Jewish religious leaders (Pharisees & Scribes) created/enacted about 613 additional man-made religious and traditional laws, which were very complex and confusing, oppressive and legalistic. They sanctimoniously prided themselves on their strict and rigorous observance of the law and human traditions, which they carry out to an intolerable extreme. Hence, they placed higher premium on those traditions than God’s Commandments. Even when one engages in bribery, stealing, sexual immorality, slandering, gossiping, wickedness, jealousy, pride, killing or character assassination, etc., for them, it wouldn’t matter, provided the person piously keeps those human traditions, then he/she is righteous (Isa. 29:13).

Moreover, one of those additional laws was the washing of hands up to the elbow before eating, which was not merely a hygienic requirements, rather a ritual observance. Even though someone’s hands were clean already, he/she would still have to wash them before eating, so as to fulfil his/her religious practices; just like what the Muslims do before their daily prayers (Salat). Disdainfully, the Pharisees confronted Jesus Christ based on this ritual observance in today’s GOSPEL pericope. That His disciples violate the tradition of the elders and eat with hands defiled, that is, unwashed. Meanwhile, according to the Talmud (Jewish authority for traditional ritual observances), only the priests were bound by this law of washing their hands before eating, not obligatory to all Jews.

But because of jealousy, the Pharisees and Scribes were always finding faults with the good works Jesus Christ was doing throughout His public ministry. They accused Him of blasphemy when He forgave the sins of the paralytic; criticized Him for eating with tax collectors/ sinners; accused Him for violating the Sabbath by allowing His disciples to pluck ears of corn when they were hungry; just to mention but a few. Similarly, so many people in our society today, behave alike. They are very intolerant and judgmental in their dealings with others. Some are very jealous of others because of their gifts/ talents; while others are disdainful because they have more talents than others. They often forget that, every gift (tangible or intangible) we have, whether it is innate (natural) or acquired (learnt), actually came from God for the common good or edification of humanity; we didn’t give them to ourselves.

However, Christ never despised the law and traditions of the elders, but always wanted to correct the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and Scribes. That it was not about mere keeping of human laws, but to respond to the Divine Law of Love, which is Salus animarum (salvation of souls) (Jn. 10:10). For Him, the human laws are good and should not be trivialized, rather they must benefit the welfare of humanity. Nevertheless, when the observance of those laws would be detrimental by reason, to human beings, epikeia should be applied. Epikeia (virtue of legal justice) is a term in Moral Theology which gives room for a law to be broken in exceptional cases, in order to achieve a greater good. But, epikeia, per se, cannot be used with regard to the natural laws (Divine Law of Love), but only with regard to inadequate and imperfect expressions of the human laws.

Although the Pharisees and Scribes performed many acts of virtues, but their sense of self-sufficiency or self-glorification vitiated their good deeds. This made them developed a proud superiority complex, and despised those who did not belong to their exclusive class. Contemporarily, there are people like that, who always exhibit superiority complex over others, or see themselves as righteous ones; simply because they are wealthy; or are God’s ministers, prayer warriors, good preachers; or they have adoration ministries; or are always performing one or two external religious rituals/ devotions. These spiritual exercises are good, but they are not what really make someone righteous or authentic Christian.

Finally, we owe our existence and every natural and supernatural gift we possess to God Almighty, since according to St. James, everything we have comes from Him. Therefore, we should not allow human traditions to influence us negatively, like the Pharisees and Scribes, who were insensitive to human needs; or be intolerant and judgmental in our dealings with others; or be jealous of people because of their gifts; or be disdainful of others because of our positions; or create draconian rules that engender injustice, tribalism, hatred, jealousy, poverty, etc. Rather, we should charitably use all the gifts and resources we have to alleviate poverty (physical, psychological & spiritual) in our homes and communities. Also, let us always be conscious of our thoughts towards others, so as to free ourselves from being eaten up by jealousy, which is very cancerous, but allow Genuine Love to always motivate our actions, which will definitely pave way for us into God’s heavenly throne (Matt. 25:31-41).

Peace of Christ be with you…

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

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