Category: Holy Mass

Heaven Is Not Cheap

Heaven Is Not Cheap

*Heaven is not Cheap*

_(Wednesday 31st July, 2019. Bible Study: Exodus 34:29-35 Psalm 99 and Matthew 13:44-46.)_

_“The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it” *(Matthew 13:45-46).*_

There is one song that carries the message of our Gospel passage this morning. It goes thus: ‘You take the whole world, and give me Jesus… you take the whole world and give me Jesus… you take the whole world and give me Jesus… am satisfied, am satisfied’.

There is another song that also brings home the message: ‘My lifetime, I will give God my lifetime, my lifetime, I will give God my life time… if I give God my lifetime, He will take care of me, He will never let me die, I will give God my life time’.

Dear friends, *if we really want to get to heaven, then we must be willing to let go of everything we have. We cannot pursue material prosperity at the same time with spiritual prosperity*. We cannot eat our cake and still have it.

A man found a treasure in a field and decided to buy the field. To purchase the field, he had to sell everything he had. Do I consider my spiritual life as a great treasure? Do I value my relationship with God? Am I willing to sacrifice everything else in this world just to remain in tune with God?

Not too long ago, I read the story of a Gospel Artist who was offered a lifetime salary of one million dollars monthly to join the Illuminati cult. The young man turned down the offer saying nothing will ever stop him from using his music to evangelise and worship God. *By rejecting this offer, he has paid a great price for the kingdom of God. Indeed, heaven is not cheap.*

After speaking with God, Moses’ face shone so brightly that he had to put a veil on his face. Do I realize this is exactly what happens to me when I spend time in prayer? Am I willing to sacrifice my time for prayer? Or do I allow other mundane activities to occupy my prayer time?

Dear friends, heaven is not cheap. It deserves all our mind, all our heart, all our strength and all our soul. We must give all we can to the race. Heaven should never be secondary to us lest we miss it.

Today we remember St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus also known as the Jesuits. Ignatius was on his way to military fame and fortune when a cannonball shattered his leg. Because there were no books of romance on hand during his convalescence (healing process in the hospital), he whiled away the time reading the life of Christ and lives of the saints. His conscience was deeply touched, and a long, painful turning to Christ began.

Ignatius was a true mystic. He centred his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Christ, the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, ad majorem Dei gloriam—“for the greater glory of God”. He is the Patron of Retreats.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me the grace to get my spiritual priorities right, Amen.

*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Wednesday of the 17th week in Ordinary Time. (Year 1) Bible Study: Exodus 34:29-35 Psalm 99 and Matthew 13:44-46)*.

-Fr. Abu

God Desires Mercy Not Sacrifice 

God Desires Mercy Not Sacrifice 

*🎷God desires Mercy; Not Sacrifice🎷*

Friday 19th July, 2019.

*Exodus 11:10-12:14, Psalm 116 and Matthew 12:1-8*

“If you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is lord of the Sabbath”.(Matthew 12:7-8).

Every religion has certain rules surrounding offering worship and sacrifices to God. For instance in our first reading this morning, God establishes the feast of Passover for the people of Israel and we can see the rules attached to this feast.

There is an exact day to pick up the lamb, there is an exact day to slaughter the lamb, there is an exact way to prepare it, (not to be boiled or fried but simply roasted), there is an exact way to eat it, there is even a way to dress to eat it and there is a time frame within which it must be totally consumed. And not just that, there is a memorial that must be celebrated every year.

In a similar way, we know that there is a way to make the sign of the cross, there is way to say the Rosary, there is a way to genuflect in church and there is a way to behave before the Blessed Sacrament. Etc. All these are rituals which should help us connect with God!

However, as we see in our Gospel passage, there is an extent to which our worship of God becomes reduced to the mere observation of rules. This was the problem of the Pharisees.

It is like building a mansion and putting a housekeeper in charge of keeping it clean. One day, you travel to a distant place and leave an instruction behind: “Keep this house clean always, don’t even allow a fly perch on the wall”.

Then after some time, you come home and your housekeeper would not allow you to enter your own house because according to your instruction, nothing should enter the house, not even a fly should perch on the wall.

It sounds funny but this is what happens when we observe rules at the detriment of actually worshipping God. No wonder, Jesus says: “I desire mercy not sacrifice”.

*Let Us Pray: Lord Jesus, may my worship of you be pure and sincere. Amen*.

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

Friday of the 15th Week in Ordinary Time.

Bible Study: Exodus 11:10-12:14, Psalm 116 and Matthew 12:1-8).

-Fr Evaristus Abu.

Innocent As Doves But Wise As Serpents 

Innocent As Doves But Wise As Serpents 

*Innocent as Doves but Wise as Serpents*.

_(Friday 12th July, 2019. Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30, Psalm 37 and Matthew 10:16-23)_

_*“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves”. (Matthew 10:16)*_

In today’s first reading, we saw how Jacob whose name had been changed to Israel finally moved to Egypt along with his entire household and everything he possessed. Even though Joseph sent some chariots from Egypt to fetch him, Jacob waited to hear from God before accepting to move. We are told that God spoke to Israel in visions of the night giving him the green light to go.

We learn from Jacob the need for prayer before taking any major decision in life. Even when everything seems to suggest that a particular decision is the best option to take, there is still a need for us to consult God in prayer. This is why we say that prayer is not one-way traffic, (we do not simply go to God to offload our worries). Prayer is dialogue. While speaking to God, be silent deep within so that you too can hear from God.

Meanwhile, in today’s Gospel passage Jesus continues his instructions to his twelve disciples who were being sent out on a mission. Today, Jesus opens up to them the difficult challenges in spreading the word of God. Jesus told them that they were sheep in the midst of wolves. This analogy perfectly describes Christianity even in our day. Being a child of light is like swimming against the tide. There has never been a time when Christians were loved by the world. We continue to remain the direct object of persecution, hatred, misunderstanding, mockery and all kinds of attack.

Within the last year alone, the number of Christians who have lost their lives in this country for the sake of the faith is alarming. A Pastor went out to preach with a microphone early in the morning in Abuja Nigeria and was brutally murdered. To this day, no investigation or arrest has been made. Two priests and twenty-two parishioners were killed right inside a church, nothing was done. Leah Sharibu remains detained by Boko Haram, just because she refused to denounce her Christian faith. We can go on and on giving examples. The truth is that we have a government in power that supports, encourages and empowers terrorists who persecute Christians.

On the other hand, we must note that there are wolves within the Christian body itself who attack from within; wolves with sheep clothing. These wolves among us are even more dangerous, they cause greater havocs through direct and vicious attacks. This is what Jesus meant by “Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child and children will rise against parents and put them to death”. Bad Christians who fill up seats in church daily are worse than non-Christians who openly declare their hatred for the faith. Bad priests and pastors who cause scandals drag more souls to Hell than traditional worshipers or Muslims who have nothing to do with the faith.

Given the external and internal attacks we face as Christians, how then are we to succeed as sheep in the midst of these fierce wolves surrounding us in all sides? Jesus recommends two things: One, the Wisdom of the Snake and Two, the Innocence of the Dove.

Amongst all the animals, the snake can be said to be the most hated but how come it has not gone extinct? The snake is a very wise animal, it knows it is not strong so it hardly engages in physical combat, it tries to win the trust of others (like the case of Eve), as soon as it senses danger, the snake runs very fast in a zig-zag manner. (if they persecute you in one town, flee to the next). However, the snake is not innocent, it carries a poisonous substance within which is called venom. This is why Jesus added we must be innocent as a dove (harmless, sinless, loving). It is interesting to note that the dove is the symbol of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is saying we must have the Holy Spirit within us always such that when asked to defend our faith, the Holy Spirit will speak on our behalf.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, give me courage, wisdom and grace to live a holy and innocent life that I may remain a sheep and not become a wolf. Amen.

*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Friday of the 14th week in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: Genesis 46:1-7, 28-30, Psalm 37 and Matthew 10:16-23)*.

-Fr. Abu.

Go And Do Likewise 

Go And Do Likewise 

*Go and Do Likewise*

_(Sunday 14th July, 2019. Deuteronomy 30:10-14, Psalm 13, Colossians 1:15-20 and Luke 10:25-37)_

_*“Which of these three, do you think, proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?’ He said, ‘The one who showed mercy on him.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:36-37).*_

Last Sunday, we saw how Jesus sent out the seventy on a mission to evangelize, giving them very strict rules and they returned full of joy. Jesus told them to rejoice not because they conquered demons but because their names were written in heaven. We learnt that each of us is called to be an evangelizer in our own little ways, to preach not just with words but with our very lives.

Today, Jesus gives us a practical example of our calling as Christians in the story of the Good Samaritan who was neither a priest, nor a Levite. One may wonder, why did the priest and the Levite ignore this man they met on the way? Again what motivated the Good Samaritan to help even when it was a known fact that Jews had no business with Samaritans? These questions bring us to our lessons for today.

*One: Charity is the Short-Cut to Heaven*.

In today’s Gospel passage, a lawyer asked Jesus a very fundamental question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” In other words, what is the most important thing required of me as a child of God? Or to put it in another way, what must I do to gain heaven? It is interesting to note that unlike Nicodemus who had come to Jesus by night to ask a very similar question, the lawyer asked Jesus in public with the intention of showing off his personal qualification for eternal life. The lawyer was hoping that in his response, Jesus would mention those things which he already prides himself with.

To the lawyer’s utmost surprise, Jesus simply gave a candid summary of the entire Ten Commandments: “to love God with all our heart, our soul, our strength, our mind and to love our neighbour as ourselves”. Even in our day and time, this response of Jesus is still quite shocking given its basic simplicity. Note that Jesus did not mention going to Church, praying long prayers, wearing long robes, fasting three times a week and so on. In fact, not even the faithful payment of our tithe is absolutely necessary.

*Two: Who is my Neighbour?*

As Luke tells us, the lawyer was eager to let those around him know how qualified he was for heaven, asked another fundamental question: “Who is my neighbour?” That was when Jesus gave the story of the Good Samaritan. A man was attacked by robbers and left for dead. A priest passed by without helping, a levite also passed by, but a Samaritan who would normally not have anything to do with a Jew was the one who stopped to help. At the end of the day, the lawyer realized he was not as qualified as he thought. The story of the Good Samaritan teaches us that the neighbours God wants us to love are not those who are close to us but those that we often consider as enemies. Our neighbours are not members of our family or community, but strangers who would never be able to repay us for our good deeds.

While attaining Heaven as easy as loving God and our neighbour, the story of the Good Samaritan teaches us that the only difficulty we would encounter in entering heaven is the difficulty of showing kindness to our enemies or those far from us.

*Three: Go and Do Likewise.*

Jesus did not just tell this story for the sake of entertainment, He passed on a very strong message by ending with the phrase: *“Go and do Likewise.”* This final statement of Jesus was His real answer to the question “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” It is not enough that we simply hear God’s word if we fail to do likewise; if we fail to behave like the Good Samaritan. Most of us like to think of ourselves as perfect candidates for Heaven, but I ask you today: When was the last time, you showed kindness to a complete stranger?

The key to helping people is our ability to see Christ in everyone. As St. Paul teaches us in our second reading today, “all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17). Help others not because they deserve it, but because of Christ whom you see in them. Remember that song: “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers; that you do unto me. When I was hungry, you gave me food to eat. When I was thirsty, you gave me drink. When I was sick or in prison, you came to visit me… now enter into the home of my father”.

One thing that tends to prevent us from helping our enemies is bitterness. You may have been hurt in the past, perhaps in your attempt to be kind to others, they repaid your good with evil. Perhaps you are scared of stopping to help that person on the road because you feel he or she may be an armed robber in disguise. But remember, that person may just be you and you too would expect someone to help you.

As much as we try to come up with excuses for not helping others, the truth is that if we search deep in our hearts, we would hear that tiny voice of conscience telling us to be kind. As Moses tells us in our first reading, we don’t need somebody to go to heaven to bring down God’s commandments, they are right in our hearts. Listen to your heart. Follow your conscience. Help, don’t hinder. *Go and do like the Samaritan.*

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, grant me the grace to replicate your mercy and kindness to everyone I meet, Amen.

*Happy Sunday. Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time Year C. Bible Study: Deuteronomy 30:10-14, Psalm 13, Colossians 1:15-20 and Luke 10:25-37)*.

-Fr. Abu

%d bloggers like this: