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POWER OF GOD

The presence of the Almighty God radiates tremendous Power upon those who love and obey Him; and also brings about Divine protection against all kinds of evil metaphysical powers and attacks, both in the physical and spiritual realms.

Doves 🕊 with the letters Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the Faithful

HOMILY OF THE PENTECOST SUNDAY, YEAR C

THEME: THE HOLY SPIRIT EMPOWERS US TO DO GOOD.

(1st Reading: Acts 2:1-11; 2nd Reading: Romans 8:8-17; Gospel: John 14:15-16, 23-26)

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Today, the Holy Mother Church celebrates in a very special way the Pentecost Sunday; the decent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and Blessed Virgin Mary! It is a celebration in honour of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Most Blessed Trinity; one in being with the Father and the Son, and equal to them in every respect.

Meanwhile, on the day Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven, He promised to send His disciples the Comforter, the Power 💥 of the Most High God, who will be with them till the end of time (Acts 1:8). Consequently, that promise which Jesus made to the disciples just as in today’s Gospel: “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you… But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you(John 14:18, 26), is being fulfilled today in our lives.

This is a memorial day that the Church was born in order to continue the salvific mission and to courageously bear witness to the risen Lord, Jesus Christ. Moreover, the actual birth of the Church was on Calvary, while Jesus Christ hung on the Cross, in fulfilment of His prophecy: “…when I am lifted up from the earth, I shall draw all people to myself(John 12:32). But, Pentecost Sunday marks the day that the Church was first introduced to the world, that is, the first public outing of the Church.

Today, there is a major renewal of interest in the Holy Spirit and spiritual charisms. In the first reading, the disciples were inundated by the Power of the Holy Spirit, which engendered mutual love, forgiveness, peace, generosity and unity in diversity among many people of diverse cultures present, without any discrimination or confusion that was witnessed at the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11. Unfortunately, many gifts of the Holy Spirit are restricted to spectacular, extraordinary and momentary phenomena which often become a cause of rivalry, conflict and division.

Undoubtedly, the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in us may not manifest unless we are, first of all, aware of that presence and that action, and secondly, we make ourselves available for their manifestation in us. For wherever the Holy Spirit is, there is Liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17). So, how do we recognize His presence and be sure that we are truly led by Him? Certainly, the litmus tests are: only when we love (sacrifice) sincerely, forgive no matter the offence, instigate unity in our community, show compassion, detach ourselves from earthly possessions as well exhibit other fruits of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise we should pray and invite Him to possess us.

The second reading describes a consequence of the presence of the Spirit. Each of us has been given gifts by the same Spirit and they must not be a source of competition, but must rather be put at the service of unity. The Holy Spirit is the new law, the force that leads us to do good, which pulls down barriers, and wherever it enters it destroys sin. He will never tell us that everything in our journey of life will be smooth and without hitch at all.… No, that is the deceptive voice of the evil spirit. For life is not a bed of roses, but imbued with plethora of challenges.

As the scripture says: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him(Romans 8:15-17).

However, the Holy Spirit helps us to navigate through the vicissitudes of life unscathed. As a matter of fact, He corrects and guides us along the way, and never leaves us lying on the ground even when we sin or offend God. Rather, He takes us by the hand, comforts us and constantly encourages us (Proverbs 24:16). He makes us weep for our sins; pushes us to frequent confessions, genuine repentance and change of heart; that is, to fight against our lies, deceptions, hatred, rivalry, disunity, wickedness, etc., even when that calls for hard work, interior struggle and sacrifice.

Furthermore, the Holy Spirit pushes us to love and to always do what is pleasing in the sight of God in accordance with the scriptures. Certainly, charisms that build up faith and unity in the Christian community, and lead to greater understanding, forgiveness and service, are true signs of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Finally, the Holy Spirit is sent for a purpose: to remind the disciples of the teachings of Jesus Christ and to instruct them further; to invest the apostles with the authority to forgive sins (John 20:22-23); to build up the faith and unity of the Christian community through various gifts of the Spirit, rejuvenates the Church and teaches her to be an open house of unity without walls of division. Hence, as Christians, who are now the present disciples of Christ and the embodiments or temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), we are now charged with the responsibility of propagating the Power of God beyond the frontiers of the earth through love, peace, kindness, unity, forgiveness, generosity, etc.

PRAYER:

Therefore, as the heavily dew🔥 (Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Fortitude, Counsel, Piety, Holy Fear) falls on the disciples today, may the Power 💥 of the Most High God penetrate your inmost heart and reinvigorate, strengthen and fortify you and your entire family so as to produce more Fruits 🍇🍓🍅 of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, generosity, self-control, modesty and chastity), in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Peace of Christ be with you…

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

HAPPY FEAST OF PENTECOST!!!

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True Love is Sacrifice empowered by the Holy Spirit

HOMILY OF 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THEME: TRUE LOVE IS SACRIFICE EMPOWERED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.

1st Reading: Acts 14:21-27; 2nd Reading: Revelation 21:1-5; Gospel: John 13:31-35

Many people have written different wonderful and classical definitions of love in their own level of understanding. Most times, however, they only talk eloquently about love, but in the actual sense, they do not understand its implications not to talk of practicing it. For love goes beyond mere feelings or what most people imagine; it is action embellished with mercy, kindness, compassion, care and sacrifice for the welfare of others no matter what it may cost, even in the face of persecution.

In the first reading, Paul and Barnabas were very happy to proclaim the Gospel of Christ during their first missionary journey despite suffering severely from the Jews. No wonder they were “courageously strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God(Acts 14:22).

Undoubtedly, the secret behind the successes they recorded, in spite of all the persecutions and hardships that encroached them which they patiently endured, and always ready to sacrifice their lives for God and for humanity, was because of the Power of the Holy Spirit they received which propelled and strengthened them. Of course, the reason is very clear: They were motivated by the love of Christ, and were hungry for the salvation of souls. That was the main reason why they never despaired when faced with tribulations and hardships.

In the Gospel, Jesus Christ says to His disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another(John 13:34-35). But how can this be new? Does it mean that people were not required to love before the time of Jesus? Certainly, the Jews had two commandments of love enunciated in Deuteronomy 6:5 (love of God) and Leviticus 19:18 (love of neighbour). Even Jesus Christ affirmed them to be the first and second greatest commandments of the law (Matthew 22:37-39). So how is the commandment given by Jesus new?

Meanwhile, the Jewish commandment of love was “Love your neighbour as yourself”, that is, the way you treat yourself. Even some people do not love themselves not to talk of loving others. But Jesus’ New Commandment is: “Love one another even as I have loved you” (John 15:12). So, how did He actually prove this? Jesus Christ made it clear to His disciples: “A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends(John 15:13). Subsequently, He practically demonstrated His new commandment of love by His sacrificial death on the Cross for the salvation of our souls (salus animarum). His disciples understood this sacrificial love very well and demonstrated it in an exact manner; and that was why they were called Christians at Antioch, because they were doing exactly what Jesus Christ did (Acts 11:26).

Unfortunately, some people who claim to love, reject sacrifices, pains, persecutions, insults, etc in the process; forgetting that they are the conditio sine qua non (necessary conditions) as well as the consequences or elements of love. They always think that love is all about what they can gain from their friends, which engenders momentary happiness and enjoyment that is void of hurts and pains. Yes, they may be right to some extent, but that is only 20% of what love is, which is a selfish one, the other 80% of what love is all about is sacrifice imbued with sufferings, which is a selfless one.

It is worthy of note that, the purest form of love is sacrifice, which is the expression of selflessness, and it is far more than anything related to the physical body. Sacrifice goes beyond what most people imagine. Unlike other kinds of love, selflessness does not care about what it gains or whether it is worth it.

True love is to sacrifice one’s own comforts, energy, time, resources and talents for the sake of others; being merciful and compassionate, as well as giving a listening ear to the poor, weak, depressed, etc. Where there is no sacrifice, there is no love, and where there is no love, then there is no Christianity. Only those who are possessed by the Power of the Holy Spirit would be able to endure sufferings and pains for the sake of others, and thus derive their joy when people’s lives are touched positively.

Moreover, once we allow Jesus Christ to dwell in our hearts, definitely we shall receive His Power to love selflessly, which is the Holy Spirit. Without this, we may be acting like the stone-hearted Pharisees who lacked human sympathy, and always laying more emphasis on the external observances of the law to the detriment of humanity. For the presence of the Holy Spirit engenders love, happiness, joy, peace, patience, forgiveness, kindness, endurance, and pushes away the frontiers of hatred, pains, anxiety, animosity, etc., amidst all sufferings. Once He is present in our lives, then He will wipe away all tears from our eyes; just as was revealed to John in the second reading: “The New Jerusalem, coming down out of Heaven from God(Revelation 21: 2). Surely, this Book of Revelation is full of visions, which attempts to describe in symbolic language, the past, the present and especially the future.

Finally, as Christians who have been redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, we are called to love selflessly as Jesus Christ did. Nevertheless, we may not necessarily offer our lives to be crucified or martyred physically, but to sacrifice or deny ourselves certain things we need in order to save the lives or souls of others, even our enemies (Luke 6:27) no matter what it may cost us. However, we cannot achieve these with our own ability, but relying on the Power of the Holy Spirit through fervent prayers. For when we allow ourselves to be possessed by the Holy Spirit and motivated by the love of Christ, then, that is the only time we will have inner joy and peace even amidst our sufferings for the sake of others.

When we must have passed through difficulties and challenges in carrying out our duties with love of God and humanity, then at the end of our lives here on earth, we shall gain eternal life, and enjoy the New Heavenly Jerusalem where God will wipe away all tears from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more. For there shall be true unending joy, happiness and peace.

PRAYER:

May the Power of the Holy Spirit strengthen and protect you and your family, so that you will be able to selflessly sacrifice your life for the sake of others amidst all tribulations, and at the end of your life here on earth, may God welcome you into His Heavenly Kingdom, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!!!

Peace of Christ be with you…

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

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SERMON OF 3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

Audio Ministration

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The presence of God radiates tremendous Power that brings about divine protection against all kinds of evil metaphysical powers and attacks, both in the physical and spiritual realms. His presence infuses the Spirit of Courage/ Boldness and Holy Fear upon those who sincerely and diligently seek Him. Also changes every ugly situation, and thus restores whatever has been damaged or lost. Once the power of God’s presence is eminent, total victory in all circumstances is certified.

Power of God's Presence

HOMILY OF 3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C

THEME: GOD’S PRESENCE DISPELS FEAR AND ENDOWS US WITH DIVINE POWER!

1st Reading: Acts 5:27-32, 40-41; 2nd Reading: Revelation 5:11-14; Gospel: John 21:1-19

The presence of God radiates tremendous Power that brings about divine protection against all kinds of evil metaphysical powers and attacks, both in the physical and spiritual realms. His presence infuses the Spirit of Courage/ Boldness and Holy Fear upon those who sincerely and diligently seek Him, as well as changes every ugly situation, and thus restores whatever has been damaged or lost. Once the power of God’s presence is eminent, total victory in all circumstances is certified.

In the Gospel, however, after the death of Jesus Christ, Peter and other apostles were so filled with fear of what the future may hold for them, and that was why they wanted to go back to their former occupation (fishing) before they were called by Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, Jesus Christ had chosen Simon Peter to lead His Church prior to His passion. He had even changed his name from Simon to Cephas (Peter, meaning Rock), and promised that He would build His Church on that Rock (Matthew 16:17-19).

Unfortunately, when Jesus Christ was arrested, due to fear, Peter denied Him, not once but three times, even before an ordinary maid. Ironically, Jesus Christ had earlier warned Peter that he was going to do just that, but Peter had boasted that he would never do such a thing. Certainly, fear can make us put respect for human beings before our respect for God. It can also bring about a grave loss of our sense of the sacred, for example unworthily receiving Holy Communion, until we receive Divine Mercy through sacrament of reconciliation. This is the reason why we should not boast with our human capabilities, but only with God (2 Corinthians 10:17). Also to have remorse whenever we offend God and then make efforts to reconcile with Him immediately.

Surprisingly, after the resurrection, Jesus Christ would have been fully entitled to take away the leadership of His Church from Peter. He could have concluded that Peter was so unreliable, that it was risky to entrust him with the responsibility of being in charge of the Church. But Jesus did not do that. Instead, He gave Peter a chance to reverse his threefold denial with a threefold profession of true love for Him. Thrice He asked Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Thrice Peter said, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Three times Jesus said to him: “Feed my lambs,” “Tend my sheep,” “Feed my sheep.”

Meanwhile, Jesus Christ simply wanted to reassure Peter that he would still be in charge of the Church; the leadership of the Church would not be taken away from him as a result of his tripartite denials. He also wanted to let him understand the manner in which he would carry out such great responsibility as the Supreme Pontiff, which are: compassion, mercy and tender loving care (TLC).

The Power of the resurrection dispels the darkness of fear, filling us with the awesomeness of God. This sense of awe creates in us the fear of the Lord, which is indeed the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). It is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that makes us to respect God and not want to offend Him in any way, and also courageous witnesses of the gospel in all situations.

Moreover, this power can only be experienced fully by those who love and obey God sincerely. Just like Peter in the first reading, after experiencing the Mercy and Power of God’s presence, he was empowered and, thus became a changed person. The same Peter who denied Jesus Christ in the presence of an ordinary maid due to fear of being arrested, now confronted the high priest himself, and told him to his face: “We must obey God rather than any human authority… we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him” (Acts 5:29-32). He then proceeded to give testimony of the resurrection to the entire Supreme Council of the nation of Israel, the Sanhedrin. What a transformation!

That is exactly what can happen to anyone who experiences the Mercy and Power of God’s presence. He or she can be so thoroughly transformed or converted – to use a more technical term that he or she will do great things for God. That was what happened to Saul of Tarsus after his encounter with Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. The same thing happened to Augustine of Hippo after his conversion from a wayward life, and also Mary Magdalene, who was totally transformed after receiving the mercy of God, no wonder she was the first to see Jesus Christ after His resurrection.

Undoubtedly, the Sacrificial Death of Jesus Christ has redeemed us from eternal damnation, and through Him we have obtained seven powerful gifts enunciated in the second reading, through the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive Power and Wealth and Wisdom and Might and Honour and Glory and Blessing!(Revelation 5:11-12).

Finally, it is also worthy of note that, apart from the Holy Mass which is the easiest way to experience God’s presence in the Holy Eucharist (Real Presence of God), “Praise” is another way of attracting the Power of God’s presence. For the scripture says: “God is enthroned at the praises of His people(Psalms 22:3). Paul and Silas were freed from prison through the Power of Praise (Acts 16:25-26); same goes to Jehoshaphat and Joshua who gained victory over their enemies through Praises (2 Chronicles 20; Joshua 6).

Therefore, we can easily attract the Mercy and Power of God’s presence and be free from fear only when we constantly obey God’s commands and always sought for His mercy (constant confession) whenever we offend Him. When we do these, no force would be able to stop us and we will not be deterred by anything, because we shall courageously be obeying God rather than human authority, just like Peter and his companions, with compassion, mercy and tender loving care (TLC).

PRAYER:

May the Power of God’s presence transform, protect and empower you to courageously obey God, and thus achieve great exploits, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen!!!

Peace of Christ be with you…

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

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Put your trust in God

HOMILY OF 6TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C.

THEME: ALWAYS TRUST IN GOD IN ORDER TO SAVE YOUR SOUL

First Reading: Jeremiah 17:5-8; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:12, 16-20; Gospel: Luke 6: 17, 20-26.

In our contemporary society, many people always want to associate themselves with prominent, wealthy and reputable personalities. Perhaps, for their lives to be influenced positively and for them to be accorded respect and honour. Unfortunately, in an attempt to gain the approval of those personalities whom they feel that can help them change their destiny for good, they would go about sabotaging, gossiping, as well as backbiting others. Sometimes, most of them put their whole trust in those personalities as if without them they won’t be able to actualize their goals in life.

On the other hand, some wealthy people put their trust, not on their fellow human beings, rather on their own wisdom and earthly possessions. They consider themselves to be self-sufficient and do not see the need for God’s assistance; not to talk of putting their trust in Him. Hence, they develop a sense of superiority complex and disdain everyone around them. Are you among those persons?

In the First Reading, Prophet Jeremiah, while addressing the people of Judah who had apostatized, foretold the dire consequences of trusting in human allies when they should have trusted in God who has the absolute power and authority over their lives: ”Thus says the LORD, Cursed are those who trust in human beings and depend on human strength, whose hearts turn away from the LORD” (Jeremiah 17:5-6). On the contrary, he further said: Blessed are those who trust in the LORD, whose confidence are in the LORD” (Jeremiah 17:7-8).  

Similarly, the Gospel also presents us with both a blessed (Beatitudes) and an accursed (Woes) ways of life; that is, the opposite ways of looking at life. The beatitudes here are directed to the poor, the hungry, those who are weeping, and those hated by the world. These people are blessed not because of their excruciating situation but because, despite their situation, they still have their focus on God. Meanwhile, to be poor in spirit means, to put your trust, not in your own ability, nor human beings nor earthly possession, but in God for His guidance and assistance. Just as the scripture says, “Trust wholeheartedly in God and do not rely on what you think you know, acknowledge Him in all you do…” (Proverbs 3:5). 

Moreover, the accursed are addressed to the rich, those with no pity who continually exploit the poor for their own advantage, those who are filled now, those who laugh now, and those whom the world speak well of now. Jesus Christ is not saying here that it is wrong to have earthly possessions, but it becomes a curse when we trust more in them than in God, just like the “Rich Fool” who did not include God in his plans for the future (Luke 12:16-21). Also when we fail to make our wealth available for the good of others, just like the “Rich Man” who couldn’t give his food to the poor Lazarus while on earth (Luke 16:19-31).

In the Second Reading, St. Paul elucidated why we must detach our hearts from earthly possessions: this world is but a fleeting moment. But our full and final life will come only after this one is over. If our life ends only in this world when we die, then it means that the incarnation, suffering and death of Jesus Christ are in vain. But Christ made it clear when He said: “I am the resurrection. Anyone who believes in me, even though that person dies, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26). He also said: “No one can come to me unless drawn by the Father who sent me, and I will raise that person up on the last day” (John 6:44).

Therefore, if we set our hearts and bend our whole energies to obtain the things which the world values, we may get them, but that is all we will ever get. In the expressive modern phrase, literally, we have had it! But if on the other hand we set our hearts and bend all our energies to be completely faithful to God and true to Jesus Christ, we will surely bear spiritual fruits through our constant care of the destitute, the sick, the disabled, the mentally ill, the social outcast and indeed, the poor. We may run into all kinds of trouble, and may by the world’s standards look unhappy, but much of our payment is still to come; and it will be joy eternal.

Finally, we are called to put our whole trust in God who has absolute power and authority over our lives instead of in human beings or in earthly possessions. If we solely attach ourselves to people or to our wealth and allow our values and principles to be guided by earthly riches, which are ephemeral, then our soul shall perish at the end of our earthly sojourn. But, when we patiently put our entire trust in God despite the tribulations or vicissitudes of life, then God will surely intervene in our life situation, and at the end our soul will live forever. For those who put their trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved, but abides forever (Psalms 125:1).

May the Holy Spirit give you the grace to make the right choice in life by utterly putting your trust in God, 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.

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 Dynamics of Life Journey!

 

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

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

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

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

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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