Tag: Sunday mass homily

Every Sin Is A Disaster. 

Every Sin Is A Disaster. 


​*Every Sin is a Disaster*

(Homily for Sunday 24th March 2019).

_“Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” *(Luke 13:2-3).*_

Slavery can be described as an act of man’s inhumanity to man. To be enslaved is to be reduced to the level of an object lacking the rights and privileges proper to every human being. To be enslaved is to be oppressed and afflicted.

God Himself felt for the people of Israel who were slaves to the Egyptians when he said: “I have seen the AFFLICTION of my people and have heard their CRY. I know their SUFFERINGS” (Exodus 3:7). Our lessons today are simple and straightforward.

*One: Sin is Slavery.*

As much as we detest slavery, St. Paul teaches us today that sin by its very nature can be likened to a form of slavery. Just as the Israelites were afflicted and agonized by the Egyptian taskmasters, we are all afflicted as long as we allow sin to dominate our lives.

According to St. Paul: “These things are WARNINGS for us, not to desire evil as they did nor grumble as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer” (1Cor. 10:10). 

*Two: Never Underestimate Sin.*

Sin is an affliction, a suffering, a detestable condition, something that makes us live lower than the dignity God desires for us. In fact, in our Gospel passage, we see that not only is Sin a form of slavery, but it is also a calamity and a disaster.

Some persons told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. They wanted to know if this disaster was as a result of their sins, assuming that they must have been the worst sinners on earth to deserve such a cruel death.

To their surprise, Jesus said, these victims were not any worse than any one of them (meaning no matter how little our sins are, we too deserve such calamity). Jesus also added a similar instance of the eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell and crushed saying: but UNLESS WE REPENT, WE WILL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH. In this way, Jesus paints a vicious picture of sin as something we must avoid at all costs.

*Three: Is Calamity a Punishment for sin?*

Does God allow bad things to happen to us as a result of our sinfulness? If this is the case, how do we explain the case of Job who was a righteous man yet faced a series of affliction? How do we explain the unfortunate things that happen to us even when we are walking in righteousness? How do we explain the brutal death of Jesus even when He was completely sinless?

The truth is that God does not treat us according to our faults. As the Psalmist says: “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities” (Psalm 103:10). Also in Matthew 5:45, Jesus told us that God “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

This means that good things and bad things happen to both good and bad people not necessarily as a direct punishment for sins. The point Jesus wants us to take to heart is that Sin itself is a calamity just as bad as any other calamity we may experience in life.

*Four: There is Good News.*

The Good News is that we serve a God who CARES for us, a God who FEELS our plight, a God who UNDERSTANDS our struggles and is ever ready to help us. The Good news is that God did not abandon the Israelites, but sent Moses to free them from the hands of captivity. This is really Good News because it means that no matter the extent of our present grip under the captivity of sin, God will not abandon us when we cry to Him.

Just as the Israelites could not save themselves, we cannot do it on our own. Nevertheless, Moses did not force them out of Egypt, their exit came as a result of their own cooperation with Moses. This is exactly what Jesus means when He demands repentance from us.

To repent is to make efforts. Yes, God is interested in the efforts you are making. This is why Jesus gave the parable of the fig tree. For three years, the man who planted the fig tree did not see any fruits and he decided to cut it down. The vinedresser pleaded for more time to dig around it and manure it saying if by next year, it still doesn’t produce fruit, it could be cut down.

What efforts are you making? Have you given up on yourself? Why not dig around your lukewarm heart and apply more manure to your spirituality? The truth is that you really do not have all the time. You do not know when you will take your last breath, Act Now!

*Conclusion: Hate Sin Enough to Flee From it.*

The first key to repentance is to see sin for what it really is. *Develop a strong hatred for sin and never take any sin for granted. The worst thing that can ever happen to you is to trivialize sin, painting it as “normal” or just one of those things.* Remember, the choice is yours to make: Repent or Perish!

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace of freedom from the captivity of sinfulness, Amen!

*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Third Sunday of Lent, Year C. Bible Study: Exodus 3:1-15, Psalm 103, 1st Corinthians 10:1-12 and Luke 13:1-9).*

-Fr. Abu.

Planted Near Water.

Planted Near Water.

PLANTED NEAR WATER.

When I read about the biblical tree planted near running waters, two things come to my mind. First, I remember the flowers I planted a year ago and they were not growing as fast as I desired. I observed their slow growth was because they were in a position, under a roof, where rainfall hardly touches them. I decided to install a water pump and used it in watering them. The flowers got water more frequently and became refreshed. 

Secondly, the biblical plant near running waters reminds me of agricultural irrigation in northern Nigeria, especially in Malumfashi, Zaria, and Argungu where dry season farming is very common in the cultivation of vegetables and other crops such as cabbages, tomatoes, capsicum, (tattasai), carrots, sugarcane, rice and so on. Here, farmers use water canals, dams, water reservoirs from which the waters run into the farm ridges.

It was the prophet Jeremiah who uses the imagery of a tree besides running waters to describe a blessed person (Jeremiah 17:58). According to him, a blessed person is one who trust in the Lord and who is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit. On a different note, the prophet describes a cursed person as someone who turns away from the Lord, as a shrub in the desert, in the parched places of the wilderness and in an uninhabited salt land.

Likewise, the Psalmist says, a blessed person is one who takes delight in the law of the Lord and meditates on the law day and night. He compares the blessed person to a tree that is planted by streams of water, which yields its fruits in season and whose leaf does not wither (cf. Psalm 113). On the contrary, the Psalmist says the wicked (cursed) person is like winnowed chaff that is driven by the wind.

It is interesting to see how Jesus shocked his listeners when he turned the standard of the world upside down in re-defining the meaning of blessedness. He says those who are truly blessed are the poor, the hungry, the hated and persecuted (Luke 6:17, 2026). These are like trees planted besides running waters. Conversely, He says cursed are the rich, the satisfied, those who enjoy laughter now and those who enjoy the praises of sycophants.

Make no mistake about it! When Jesus talks about the poor he means those who place their trust in God and those who have a childlike trust in God. Moreover, the poor are those who detach themselves from materialism in order to establish a deep relationship with God. Unlike the poor, the rich are those who are never contented with what they have and who look for every avenue to grab more and more, by hook or crook. They are like Dives who was insensitive to the plight of the needy around him. I wish to recall the words of a famous American preacher who says, “We are rich in the things that perish, but poor in the things of the spirit. We are rich in gadgets, but poor in faith. We are rich in goods, but poor in grace. We are rich in know-how, but poor in character. We are rich in words, but poor in deeds.”

It is not a sin to be materially rich, nor is it a virtue to be materially poor. After all, Abraham was a wealthy man, but had an unshakeable faith in God. He was ready to offer everything including his son to God. The story of the unforgiving servant tells us about a poor servant who was wicked to his fellow servant (Matthew 18: 21-35). This servant’s material poverty was made worse by his wicked heart. However, there are materially poor people who commanded respect and were dignified by God. For example, Jesus identified a poor and honourable person in the poor widow who was radically generously (Matthew 124144). Similarly, the book of Ecclesiastes speaks about an unknown honourable poor man who though poor, was wise, and he delivered a city through his wisdom (Ecclesiastes 9:1415).

In addition, Jesus speaks about the hunger that leads to happiness, which is the hunger for righteousness, virtue, purity, as well as the hunger for the word of God and for the bread of life. He says those who weep are blessed. These are people who suffer brokenness of heart over the affliction and sorrows of others and have a deep sense of empathy. Jesus showed this kind of empathy when he was deeply moved in spirit at the death of Lazarus. He wept (John 1133, 35). More still, He wept over Jerusalem for their stubborn hearts (Matthew 23:37).

Furthermore, Jesus considers those who are hated and persecuted as blessed. He showed us a perfect example, while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously (1 Peter 2:23). An early Christian writer perfectly describes the gentle response of Christians towards persecution. The writer says: 

“They love all men, and are persecuted by all. They are dishonored, and their dishonor becomes their glory. They are reviled, and are justified. They are abused, and they bless. They are insulted, and repay insult with honor. They do good, and are punished as evildoers; and in their punishment they rejoice as gaining new life therein. The Jews war against them as aliens, and the Greeks persecute them; and they that hate them can state no ground for their enmity.”

Therefore, let us walk on the path of blessedness and happiness, which the Prophet, the Psalmist and Jesus show us. Let us be like that tree planted by running water which is never destroyed by winter, hotness, dryness and drought. This tree is a symbol of a person who is poor in spirit, who hungers and thirst for righteousness, who mourns over the affliction of others and who is hated and persecuted for his faith and good works. 

—————————————

6th Sunday of the Year C.

Homily Written By Rev. Fr. Gerald M. Musa.

Stop Toiling For Nothing; Just Obey The Word Of God. 

Stop Toiling For Nothing; Just Obey The Word Of God. 


​*🎷Stop Toiling for Nothing; Just Obey the Word of God.🎷*

Homily for Sunday 10th February 2019.

_“ ‘Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word, I will let down the nets.’ And when they had done this, they enclosed a great shoal of fish; and as their nets were breaking.” *(Luke 5:5-6)*_ 

Indeed as the book of Hebrews tells us, the word of God is living and active. Two Sundays ago, we had Ezra reading the word of God to the people which made them cry, last Sunday, we saw Jesus explaining the word of God to his people and they reacted violently because he highlighted its bitter truths. Today, Jesus spoke the word to Peter and it didn’t make sense to him but when he obeyed it, Peter himself was marvelled at its power.

Without a doubt, our readings today contain so many powerful lessons which cannot even be exhausted in one homily. The summary of them all is the fact that God’s words are so powerful and true that even if they do not make sense to us, our survival and progress in life depends entirely on our obedience to God’s word. Let us not analyse some of the lessons.

*One: Failure is Just a Stepping Stone.*

Last Sunday, Jesus miraculously escaped death in his hometown. Having been rejected from his home town and his own country, Jesus could have just decided to give up entirely. Failure is very painful. There are many of us here who have allowed our dreams to die or refused to answer our Divine Call all because our attempts at actualising them were absolute failures.

Like Peter and his fellow fishermen, some of us have worked all night (the best time for that particular work) only to catch nothing. Like St. Paul and Isaiah, some of us may have become so disappointed with ourselves based on our sinful past that we feel we are simply good for nothing. Jesus experienced failure in teaching his own people despite the fact that He is God but He pressed on. Dear friends, change your attitude to failure. Stop looking down on yourself. Learn your lessons and move on.

*Two: God Calls Us through the Ordinary Events of our Life.*

It wasn’t by mere coincidence that Peter and his team failed that night. It wasn’t by mere coincidence that Isaiah happened to be in the temple when he experienced a vision of heaven during the time of the incense. It wasn’t by mere coincidence that Paul was arrested on his way to Damascus while on a mission to destroy Christianity. Not all of us would be lucky like Isaiah to actually hear a voice from heaven but if we reflect on our life’s daily events we would see the hand of God leading us somewhere.

The truth is that nothing happens by chance but it takes a truly reflective mind to see beyond the “ordinariness” of these events. When Peter saw a great catch of fish which he was not expecting to see, he knew this was not about fish; that, he had just encountered God. He fell down immediately at the feet of Jesus saying: “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Peter recognised the Divinity of God. He and his fellow fishermen would eventually abandon that great catch of fish alongside their boats and nets to follow Jesus.

Have I had a similar experience to Peter? Did I go after the great catch of fish or did I follow that inner voice saying “come, follow me.”? When last did I experience a miracle from God? Do I remember praying for something only to get a speedy and shocking answer almost immediately? Did I like Peter, draw closer to God after the miracle? Did it lead me to repentance knowing how close God was to me when He speedily granted my prayer? Or have I become a miracle-seeking Christian who continues to live in darkness and sin

*Three: Obey God’s Word No Matter What.*

It really felt like a joke when Jesus said: “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” God’s words sometimes come to us as a joke. At times, it feels as if what God is demanding from us is unreasonable and impossible. I was once addressing a group of youths telling them the importance of virginity before marriage and all of them just burst into laughter. They were wondering which planet I came from. Someone once told me that if he does not tell lies, his business would simply cease to exist. Our society has fallen to the extent where taboos are now seen as normal while those who attempt to be righteous are seen as outcasts.

Some of us “do not have time” to read the Bible but will gladly read thousands of social media texts, newspapers and erotic novels. Why? We feel the Bible does not belong to our world. We feel it is not for normal people like us.  Peter replied to Jesus, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But AT YOUR WORD I WILL LET DOWN THE NETS.”

Do I trust God enough to obey His Words? Do I even realize what my life would have been if only I have been faithful to obey God’s words? Have I been toiling in vain like Peter simply because I feel comfortable living a sinful life; a life of disobedience to God’s word? Do I select and choose from the word of God? Am I one of those “progressive” Christians who feel that some of God’s commandments are no longer relevant especially those related to human sexuality? Dear friends, trust and obey God.

*Four: Just Make Yourself Available, God will Do the Rest.*

One important lesson we also learn today is that you do not have to be perfect before God can use you. When I hear people commenting on the daily homilies on this platform, I find it difficult to believe what they say because I know myself; I know how weak and limited I am and how I am easily prone to errors; I know I am not the author of what I write. For all those called by God, there is always a sense of unworthiness deep down within them. Jeremiah felt he was too young. Isaiah had a guilty conscience. Peter called himself a sinner. Paul persecuted Christians.

God does not call the qualified, rather he qualifies (completes, adds to and betters) the called. In the case of Isaiah, an Angel touched his lips with a lump of burning coal and granted him divine absolution but not all those called by God receive such dramatic experiences. Sometimes, God does not even “qualify” the called, he uses them just like that. Even the so-called “bad priest” can inspire vocations. At times, a poorly prepared homily strikes a chord and brings listeners to tears. All we have to do is to say with Isaiah: “Here I am, send me.”

*Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, teach me to obey your word even when it is hard and tough on my skin. Amen.*

Happy Sunday. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. 

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time. Year C.

*Bible Study: Isaiah 6:1-8, Psalm 137, 1st Corinthians 15:1-11 and Luke 5:1-11.*

-Fr Evaristus Abu.

Beware Of False/Faulty Theologies. 

Beware Of False/Faulty Theologies. 

*Beware of False/Faulty Theologies.*

(Homily for September 16, 2018).
_“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.” *(Mark 8:34-35)*_

We may have very good intentions to serve God. Our love for God may even be unparalleled, we may be the holiest kinds of Christians but so long as there is a problem with our theology, we cannot really claim to be true followers of God. In fact, we may even be hindering Christ unknowingly and acting as stumbling blocks in the salvation of others if we do not properly examine our theology. 

In today’s liturgy, we are made to understand the danger of holding a false theology while claiming to be close to God. Peter was called satan for his false theology. St. James lambasts Christians who due to their false theology refuse to provide practical help to the poor and needy. Isaiah in prophesying about the Messiah, highlights the aspect of suffering thereby exposing as false any theology that is totally against suffering.

Is it possible that I am holding a false theology about who God is? Is my understanding of Jesus Christ correct? What are my expectations for living a Christian life and are these expectations in line with God’s expectation of me? How does my Christian Faith affect relations with the poor, the homeless, the weak, the neglected, the naked, the imprisoned and sick in the society? Do I worship God so He can provide my needs or so that I can become a blessing to people? In a bid to answer these questions, some lessons immediately pop up for reflection.
*Lesson One: The Importance of Questioning Our Theology.*

It was Socrates who said: “an unexamined life is not worth living.” This means if we simply wake up each day and go about our activities without pausing to ask why we do what we are doing, we would be living a worthless life. If an unexamined life is not worth living, then an unexamined Christianity is not worth living. 

Jesus himself teaches us the importance of questioning our theology when he asked his disciples two very vital questions in today’s Gospel passage: “Who do people say I am?” and “Who do you say I am?” Each of us must not only ask ourselves these questions, we must answer them and be sure that our answers are correct! 

It is not enough that we pray when others are praying or go to church because everybody is going to church, we should ask ourselves: “Why am I even praying?” “What am I doing in church?”, “Who is this God I am praying to, what are people saying about Him and what is my personal opinion?”

*Lesson Two: Our Theology Speaks for Itself.*

Just as the disciples provided false answers, there are many Christians today who see Jesus as a Miracle Worker, a Bread Provider, a Security Man, a Charm, a Swear word, and so on. That is to say, we see Jesus as a means to an end, (something to be used to achieve some material comfort) rather than as God to be worshipped. This explains why there are lots of Christians who pray very well, go to Church regularly and even hold high positions in Church but do not believe Jesus has a say over what they do with their bodies. Jesus for many is more of a service provider than a Father! 

If I cannot give Jesus that respect of allowing His words guide my daily choices, whether in public or in secret, it is because I have a false theology; I do not see Jesus as the Christ but as something lower; a magician who does my wish and works for me. When Peter answered correctly, Jesus charged them to tell no one. Why? There is no point in announcing our theology to the world, our actions are enough; they speak volumes!

*Lesson Three: A Theology without Practical Love for others is a false Theology.*

This is where our second reading today comes in. St. James says: “show me your faith apart from your works and I by my works will show you my faith.” The works James was referring to in this passage is not church attendance, not speaking in tongues, not casting out demons, not performing signs and wonders, not even evangelism. No! The work that shows our faith is charity to the poor, the needy, the sick, the helpless and those who come to beg from us. Jesus himself said: “whatsoever you do the least of my brothers, you do unto me.” Matthew 25:40. 

No matter how holy we may claim to be, if the poor do not feature in our scale of preference, then our understanding of God is faulty. If we simply believe God is there to provide for us without also bearing in mind that we are blessed to be a blessing to others, then we do not yet know God. It is a shame that we Christians believe that Christ died so that we can live a life of luxury, a life of abundance, a life without stress while we turn a blind eye to the poor who cannot afford what we waste.

A theology of “give me, give me, O Lord” without “how do I give to you O Lord” is a self-centred theology; a fake theology. A theology that gives in expectation of reward is a business/investment theology. 

When a man of God tells you to sow a seed so that you can get back double or tenfold returns on your seed, and even embellishes it with examples, just know his theology is faulty. It is not a sin to sow a seed or to give a sacrificial offering. Your seed might build a church where millions after you will worship God, your seed might help many to become saints, your seed might affect morality in society for good etc. but if sowing that seed is done only with the mindset of getting it back yourself, then it is no longer a seed but a business. Give to promote God’s work, give to become a blessing to God’s children, NOT to get it back.

*Lesson Four: A Cross-less Theology is a Fake Theology.*

Jesus tells us today; “if any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Mark 8:34. True Christianity involves self-denial, self-discipline; suffering; embracing lack; giving away one’s life for Christ’s sake. A few days ago, we celebrated the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and we noted the following:

As powerful as the Cross, so powerful are those pains, insults, ridicule and shame we have to put up with for the sake of our Christian Faith. Just as we can no longer look down on the Cross, so also we dare not look down on what we have to suffer if such suffering is due to our desire to serve God. Do not despise your sufferings, do not reduce your Cross, do not abandon the narrow path; do not try to be like everyone else, do not get tired of doing good even when your goodness seems unrewarded and unappreciated by others. Cherish the pains and sacrifices you have to put up with for Christ’s sake.

Indeed, we should not be ashamed of or pray against the sufferings which come to us as a result of our decision to stand for Christ. Not only should we expect to be maltreated, insulted, hated or misunderstood, we should be happy when we experience it. We should be able to say with Isaiah in today’s first reading: “I gave my back to those who struck me and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I did not hide my face from shame and spitting.” Isaiah 50:6.

Peter, like many Christians today had a cross-less theology; a theology that says “God forbid” to sufferings that come as a result of our desire to serve God; a theology that always seeks an easy route; a theology that desires glory but rejects self-discipline; a theology of pleasure; a theology that convinced Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit saying they would not die; a theology that gives false interpretation to the scriptures just to suit the audience and make them happy. Such a theology is nothing other than a satanic theology and it is the theology behind the upsurge of churches in our society while evil multiplies daily. Could it be the case that my theology is satanic?

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me carry my daily cross joyfully and save me from falsehood. Amen. 

*Happy Sunday. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (24th Sunday in Ordinary Time: Year B. Bible Study: Isaiah 50:5-9, Psalm 116:1-9, James 2:14-18 and Mark 8:27-35)*
Fr. Abu.

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