Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Homily the Solemnity of Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Fr. Michael Udoekpo


Homily the Solemnity of Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ – Fr. Michael Udoekpo
Readings: Exodus 24:3-8; Ps 116:12-18; Heb 9:11-15 and Mark 14; 12-16, 22-26

 The Presence of Christ, the efficacy of his Body and Blood

Today is the Solemnity of the Body of Blood of Christ, Corpus Christi, in Latin. I would like to invite you to reflect with me on the theme, “the presence of Christ, the efficacy of his Body and Blood.” I have chosen this theme because when Pope Urban IV in 1264, the time of Saint Thomas Aquinas instituted this celebration, among the things he had in mind was that we continue to be devoted to Christ, worship him with hymns and songs, processions, genuflections, adoration,  veneration, visitations, for he is ever present with us in the Blessed Sacrament of love, at Mass, in the bread we break, in the cup we share, in our neighbors we love, in the Church we listen to, and pray with. He is present on our faith journeys, everywhere on earth!

 His presence of love, his covenant with us is unbroken, ever active and effective at least from his part. In ancient days, in Exodus 19, God on Mount Sinai established this covenant of love, and his divine presence with Israel. This covenant was ratified in today’s first reading, Exodus 24:3-8, by the sprinkling of blood on the altar and on the people.  These ancient rites continued on. We see this in Leviticus 16 and 17, on the Day of Atonement, blood sprinkled by priests in the Holy of Holies.  Since ancient times this sprinkled blood was not only a sacred symbol, but a symbol of life, a sign of purification from sins, filthy things, blessings, peace (shalom), good luck, covenant and life’s renewal in the years ahead.

But in the new covenant prophesied by Jeremiah 31:31” in the days to come I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah,” the author to the Letter to the Hebrews in the second reading (Heb 9:11-15) moves a step further to remind us of the efficacy of the Body and blood of Christ, the new covenant foretold by the prophets.

By dying for us on the cross (as we saw during the Holy Week) Christ fulfills/perfects this covenant. He is both the perfect high priest and the perfect sacrifice. Christ’s blood, shed on the cross is more effective than the blood of the animals shed annually and sprinkled on the altar and on the people by the OT priests.

Notice the argument from “less” to “great” or from the “lesser” to the “greater” presented by the second reading. He says, “Christ came as the high priests of the good things that have come to be.” He passes through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, entered into the divinely constructed sanctuary or tent that is heaven, with his own blood, not with animal blood like goats and calves, in order to bring us eternal redemption.

If the ordinary animal blood could be effective in the context of earthly sacrifice, how much more the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, his body and blood. Christ in the Gospel (Mark 14:12-16, 22-26) says, “Take this is my body… and for the cup, this is my blood of the covenant,” words we repeat at every Mass we celebrate. This body and blood of Christ is efficacious. It is superior to the blood of the animals in the OT. It cleanses our consciences from sins, from dead works and enables us to worship the living true God and restore our rightful relationship with God. 

He is alive in the rich and the poor. Christ is alive in the healthy and the sick. He is alive in the living and in our loves ones gone before us marked with the sign faith. He is alive in our relationship with one another. In our homes and rooms he remains the unseen guests of the believer. He is alive in the sacred music. He is alive in the Holy Scriptures we share.   He is alive among peace makers, champions of unity and in those who forgive wrong doings done to them.  Above all He is really present with us,”transubstantially,” in the bread and in the wine when the priests invoke God’s blessings upon it at the epiclesis, particularly in the community of believers.

This reminds me of the song: He’s alive amen, He’s alive, and Jesus is alive forever…He’s alive amen! 

As we celebrate this Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ may we continue to share our faith and our experience of the efficacy of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist with our neighbors, friends and family members!

Homily Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo


Homily Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Deut 4:32-34, 39-40; Ps 33:4-9, 18-20, 22; Rom 8:14-17 and Matt 28:16-20

The Mystery of God’s Love


“Blessed are those whom the Lord has chosen as his own” (Psalm 33:12).

This is the responsorial psalm of today. Some translations would say, “Happy are the nations whose God is the Lord, the people chosen as his very own’” (NAB). Whatever translation, this psalm captures the essence of our celebration today, Israel in the presence of God; the Church, everywhere, every nations, our community (ies) in the presence of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

We celebrate the mystery(that which surpasses our human understanding) of the three persons in One God, the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity; a Triune God who loves and cares for us; the mystery of all that God has done in our lives. This is not a God whom we want to question today “how did three of you become one,” but a God who loves to see us practice our faith or go out to the whole world and preach the values of Christ Jesus, his only begotten, whose birth stories we share at Christmas, passion, resurrection and Ascension at Easter and the coming down of the Holy spirit at Pentecost, to lead the Church.

The 1st reading of today from Deuteronomy Chapter 4 is a clear exhortation or call to remember all these mysteries and wonders God has done for us in the past- in creation, signs and wonders, the liberation from slavery, exodus and redemption.  God can do what humanly seems impossible. I am sure you may have your personal testimonies. Recall God’s wonders including the miracle of the air or oxygen we breathe, the wars he defeated the enemies, the 10 plagues, the miracle of the read sea- all these should strengthen our faith and enable us believe more and more in God- keeping his statues and his basic commandments, namely love of neighbor and God!

He is a miracle working God who out of love journeyed in his son to save us- a son who left us with the Spirit at Pentecost. Each of us become adopted sons and daughters of God when we aloud this spirit of God to lead us. This is the same spirit that we received initially at baptism. Like in the Gospel of today, we all were baptized not only with water, but in the name of God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt 28:16-20).  We want not only to read the fruit of this spirit but we want this spirit to lead us always, even as we bring others to catholic faith by our words and deeds. This is why Paul says, today, ‘brothers a sisters, those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons (and daughters) of God… the spirit of adoption” (Rom 8:14-17).

We also become God’s children and Christ’s brothers and sisters by adopting and adapting his values of peace, unity, faith, prayer, love, obedience and complete self-surrendering, which Mary the Mother of Christ also stood for this even in the magnificent(Luke 1:39-56). She once said to the Angel “how can this be since I do not know any man." But at the end the day, she said, “do with we me whatever thou wilt". How many times did Christ not pray in every step of the way during his ministry? In the last discourse in John 17 he prayed ‘that they may all be one.” Did Christ ever disobey his father? Did Christ ever doubt what his father can do?  How many times did he not completely empty himself and surrendered himself to the Father, even up to the cross? It was never about himself, his will, but always the will of the Father. He said “into your hands I commend my spirit.”

 I think if there is anything we want to take home today from this Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity it is faith not doubt, unity not division, hope not despair, trust rather than distrust and total acceptance of the will God, especially in moments of temptations and lack of intelligible explanations to certain circumstances of our lives.  
You and I know that sometimes when one door closes another opens. Even in sickness and other tragedies of live we can always trust God’s loving acts, and says the Psalmist, “May your love and kindness be upon us, as we place all our hope in you’ (ps 33:22). The mystery of God’s love!

 

 

Homily Pentecost Sunday Year B (Mass during the Day): Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo


Homily(3) Pentecost Sunday Year B (Mass during the Day): Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Acts 2:1-11; Psalm 103; I Cor 12:2-3, 12-13 and John 20:19-20.

The Role of the Holy Spirit in our lives

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Pentecost, 50 days after the celebration of Easter- the resurrection of Christ. The Jews celebrated this feast 50 days after the Feast of Passover- thanking God for the gift of harvest as well for His Sinaitic Covenant with Moses which also occurs 50 days after the beginning of the Exodus in Egypt. There have been many harvests in our lives!

For us, today marks the end of the Easter Season and commemorates the day that the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and on the Church. We are celebrating the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives as Christian men, women and children. We need this gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives today more than ever, in order for us to be able to function as true Christians and agents of evangelization without fear and intimidation, despair, quarrel, discrimination and desire for vengeance, bigotry, division and unhealthy competition.

I remember when I was a kid between the ages of 4-10. I always wanted to hold onto my mum whom I loved and depended on. I always cried, sad and disturbed the whole neighborhood each time my mother would leave me at home to go the grocery store or to the local market for shopping. Sometimes we do feel the same each time somebody we love is about to leave us.

The Apostles felt the same – they were sad when Jesus indicated last week, in the reading of the Solemnity of Ascension that he was leaving to go to the Father. But, he promised them the Holy Spirit.

Recall, the same Holy Spirit was important even throughout the ministry of Jesus.  Remember at his baptism the Spirit descended upon Jesus and named him as he beloved son of the Father. At the beginning of his public ministry in Luke chapter 4, Jesus invoked the prophecy of Isa 61- “The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me. He has anointed me to bring Good news to the poor, and liberty to the captives….”   It was this same Spirit of the Lord that raised Jesus from the dead, and enabled him ascends to the Father.

Just as it was not easy for me when my mum would leave me home momentarily to get to the store for groceries or for any us to lose a dear one, the Bible Readings of today from Acts of the Apostles, Paul’s Letter to the Corinthian and the Gospel of John not only present us with the challenges that face the early Christian community after the Ascension of Jesus.

St. Luke tells us in Acts of the Apostles how the persecuted and frightened and post-ascension church could not really teach the mission of Jesus to the understanding of everyone from different tribes and culture until they had received the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit the early church was filled with fear, wrangling, uncertainties and confusions.

It was the Holy Spirit that enables the Apostles to face with love and patience the ridicule, the rejection they had to deal with after the ascension of Jesus. It was the Holy Spirit that enables them to be understood by people of all nations listed in today’s first reading. The Spirit of unity.

We need this spirit of God (wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord) to deal with the challenges that face us today in our families, in the society, in schools, offices, and places of work, in our nations as followers of Christ.

Some of these challenges you know better than I do may include, division, discrimination, quarrels, pride, boasting, abusing our gifts and selfishness in our homes and in politics and in our communities. These are some the problems that St. Paul was addresses in the early Corinthian Church, of the 2nd reading.

For Paul in Baptism we are all one body in Christ. Just as the eye cannot say I don’t need the fingers or the nose, my legs or ears are not necessarily, we need one another in Christ. You can't say your next door neighbor or the next person on your left or right is not important. Everyone is needed. All the gifts we have are important and we need your gifts to live in fullness with Christ.  None of us sitting here is a chance factor before God or is not gifted with one gift or another. We are all gifted.

For Paul the sharing of these various spiritual gifts enriches the Church, since they all come from the same Spirit for the common good. In other words these gifts are meant for the common good, for the community.  They may reside in some of us informs of prophecy, teaching, administration, acts of charity, healing, speaking in tongues, apostles, prophets, etc . But usually what this spirit brings should be joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22ff).

This is the Spirit that Jesus breathed on the Apostles on the evening of that Easter Sunday in today’s Gospel. It is the Spirit of peace, shalom, wholeness to be agents of evangelization and forgiveness.

Let us pray at this Mass for the gift of the Holy Spirit to take control of our lives so that we may constantly not only feel the presence of God, his peace and joy in our lives, but be able to willingly share it with our neighbors.

 

 

Homily (3) 7th Sunday of Easter Year B: Fr. Michael Udoekpo


Homily (3) 7th Sunday of Easter Year B: Fr. Michael Udoekpo
Readings Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26; 1 John 4: 11-16 and John 17:11b-19

  He prayed that they may all be one

“Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying, “ Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one”(John 17:11b).

There is no better day to read the priestly prayer of Jesus than on the occasion of Johannine Jesus’ last discourse, preparing his disciples for the Post Ascension or Pre- Pentecost periods of evangelization and demands of discipleship. What will become of the Disciples of Christ and the Church after Jesus’ Ascension to the Father? Today’s readings are relevant to us today who presently live in a broken world, plague with wars, and all kinds of divisions, discriminations on the streets, offices, places of work and even in  places of worship.

If we read the preceding verse 11a of this 17th chapter of John, Jesus wishes is expressed, “And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father keep them in your name…”

Jesus himself was in deep union with his Father throughout his ministry. He remains with him. His Ascension was the work of the Father, who lifted him up. He knew the journey was not always going to be easy for his disciple and church.  The more reasons in his High Priestly Prayer of today’s Gospel he committed our well-being and faith into God’s hands. He wants us to remain with the Father and stick around in love and unity with one another. He prayed that through the gift of the Holy Spirit each of us may be brought into that kind of deep union and friendship that he had shared with God His Father.

Besides faith, hope and love, stressed in the 2nd reading, prayer and openness for the guidance of the Holy Spirit are key principles for true discipleship. The union of the disciples and the church can be achieved through incessant prayer, even in making choices or key decision like the selection of Matthias to replace Judas who had betrayed Christ and gone his way. In doing this we are told in the 1st reading, the church prayed and said:

“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two (Judas called Barsabbas and Matthias) you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas has turned away to go to his own place.”

How many of us have not turned away once in a while or tempted to do so from the teachings of the Church, from the teachings of the Holy Scripture from our faith tradition, from the teachings of Christ, love, charity, peace, serenity, gentleness, humility forgiveness, unity, “do to others what you would want don to you” (matt 7:12) and sometimes go our own way. With prayer everything is possible.  With prayer we can make a U-turn back to Christ. With prayer we can remain with him.

 Prior to our decisions and choice making, be it that of the college to go to, a particular doctor to visit, suggestions to make at family and executive meetings, which mass to attend or what menu to choose from, a particular book to read, movie to watch or friends to hang out with, at the United Nations, cabinet meetings, parish councils, diocesan senates, we want to pray, we want to always consult our advocate; counselor, the Holy Spirit, through prayers.

At this Mass, remember this is our upper Room, let us re-dedicate our life’s mysteries into God’s hands. Let us imitate our Mother Mary and the apostles, who prayed before Matthias was selected, who kept the faith, who waited patiently and prayerfully united for the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, come next Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

Homily (3) the Ascension of Our Lord Year B: Fr .Michael U. Udoekpo


Homily (3) the Ascension of Our Lord Year B: Fr .Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Acts 1:1-11; Ps 47:2-3, 6-9; Eph 1:17-23 and Mark 16:15-20

Be lifted up to make known the Gospel

  In different parts of the world, including the ecclesiastical Provinces of Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Omaha and Philadelphia here in the States, the Solemnity of Ascension was celebrated on Thursday after the Sixth Sunday of Easter. In other places including our Archdiocese (Milwaukee) here, Ascension is celebrated today, the Seventh Sunday of Easter.

 Today's celebration is a culmination of the events of the Paschal mysteries of Christ (recall his birth-ministry-passion-death-resurrection and Ascension)! Remember, during the Passion Week, it was evident that the death of Christ was never going to be a defeat, but a victory, an exaltation, a glorification and a lifting up of the Son of Man, “when I am lifted up from the earth I will draw everyone to myself,” ( John 12:32).

On the Cross, he rose above the pettiness of those who had anything to do with His persecution. He drew to himself the Jews, the Gentiles, men and women, including, the Roman soldiers, the Beloved Disciples, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, everyone was at the foot of the Cross.  With his resurrection and appearances many also including the doubting Thomas came to belief in Christ and finally was able to say, My Lord and My God.”

 The readings of today continue to testify to God’s work in Christ Jesus. In Marks account of the Ascension after Jesus had chatted with his friends and the disciples about faith and continuous spreading of the gospel to all parts of the world fearlessly Jesus, “was lifted up into heaven” where he took his seat at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19). Luke presents the same testimony in the first reading, Acts of the Apostles (1:1-11) confirmed by Paul in the Second reading in Eph 1:17-23.

 In all these God is at work. He seated Jesus at his right hand to watch over us; to judge the living and the dead. From there he sends us the Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth, the Spirit of mission, the spirit of Evangelization.  Even after the Ascension, the end of today’s Gospel says, “they went forth and preached everywhere while the Lord worked with them and confirm the word through accompanying signs.”

 God never disappoint anyone who trust in Him.  He continues to be at work in us. When we are down he is prepared to lift us up. When we are discouraged he is there to offer us courage. The mission he commissions us today “go out to the whole world and proclaim the gospel,” is not measured by distance. It is measured by faith.  There is mission to be done in this parish/school and residence home/families. It is measured by hope. It is measured by love. It is measured by the way we imitate Christ, his principles and values, in every circumstances of life.

  We are called to be missionaries even onto ourselves, to our children, to our spouses, friends, families and next door neighbors. We are called to preach, pray for and lift out our children and friends out of drug abuse? With his Ascension we are called to transcend faithlessness and continue to pray for our nations to recognize more and more the place of God in our lives, in our politics and homes.

I was so impressed and up lifted yesterday when a friend of mine in New York, actually called from Arizona asking for prayer for his brother, whom he believe was in a very dark and bad place (state of life)... After listening I offered few words of encouragement and upliftment to the family.

Although Christ has departs, today’s solemnity reminds us that Christ still remains with us in the tabernacle, in the Holy Eucharist, in kinds words we share with our neighbors. He is with us in the passages of the Scripture. He is with us in our schools, in our studies, offices, work places and where we live (here in this residence home).  He says, in Matthew 28:19-20 “I am with you always, until the end of the time.”

As Christ lifted up, let us pray at this Mass be lifted up in Spirit to be able to lift up others, especially the poor, the sick, the needy. May we in this changing world continue to believe and make known the Good News of Christ, in our words and actions, in our homes, families and in every situation in life.

 

 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Homily (2) 6th Sunday of Easter Year B (Mother’s Day USA): Fr. Michael Udoekpo


Homily (2) 6th Sunday of Easter Year B (Mother’s Day USA): Fr. Michael  U. Udoekpo
Readings: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; 1 John 4:7-14 and John 15:9-19

 God Is Love as a Loving Mother!

 Today we celebrate our God who loves us as a loving mother! Ordinarily when love is mentioned everyone is awake and various interpretations are attributed to it. But, thanks to Pope Benedict XVI  who in the beginning of his  papacy, years ago, gave us an in-depth meaning of true love, namely God, through his Encyclical, Deus Caritas est (God is Love).

The readings of today, particularly on a Mother’s Day [here in the Unites States], revisit these themes of God’s love for us and how we respond. In the Gospel, John 15 Jesus says, “As the Father loves, me so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love… No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” While in the 2nd reading, 1 John, we are also bluntly told, “God is love,” (Deus Caritas est).

It is not just sentimental love, but God’s love is in action through his incarnation, becoming human in his Son to be with us, teach us, walk with us, eat with us, preach to us, and heal us. Christ love for his father in turn, is in action through his obedient ministry. Though he was in the form of God, he did not for once, count equality with God his father, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant (Phil 2:6-11). Throughout his ministry from baptism to the cross he humbly proved his love for us in changing water to wine (John 2), in encouraging non-believers to believe (John 3), in reaching out to the poor, the weak and foreigners, the “Samaritan women,” (John 4) in healing the sick, raising the death (John 6-11), washing the feet of his disciples (John 13), and marching freely to the cross. In fact, “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.”

We are truly God’s friends no matter where we come from or what language we speak, or look like! Our friend Jesus expects us to imitate him. Don’t we ordinarily say, “Show me your friend I will tell you who you are?” If we are God’s friends, we are expected to remain in him, keep his ethics, morality, commandments, values, theologies, spiritualties. we are expected to put who our divine friend is into practice. 

We can do this by bearing witness to him like Peter in today’s first reading. Peter brought the spirituality of his friend, Jesus to the Gentiles, beginning with the house of Cornelius, whom he baptized in the name of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit. We are told, “While Peter was speaking, preaching the word of God, the Holy Spirit fell upon “all” who were listening to the word of God.

This God is love and his love is universally in action. It reaches to the Jews and Gentiles! This is the true love of God. Of course, in our own practical situations, the test of true love, in fact is not just by what we feel, but by what we do which affects our neighbors. Do I speak well about my neighbor, pray for them? Am I able to hold that elevator/ door for my incoming friend or senior?  Am I patriotic!  Am I charitable and sensitive especially to the needs of the poor. What effects has the papacy of  Pope Francis has on me thus far? Am I understanding, prudent, modest in what I say, write, eat, drink and wear? Am I kind, generous, gracious, compassionate, not instigating violent, hatred, jealousy and division, or rushing to judge my neighbors without possessing all the facts? Am I conscious that I am limited in many ways!   Again, on a Mother’s Day ([like this in the States) we might ask Am I loving, forgiving, caring, generous, obedient to my superiors, parents,  available, approachable, affectionate, impartial as our loving mothers?

There is a story of a Maltese loving mother who gave birth to conjoin-Siamese baby boys. Any surgery to separate them would result from one baby boy giving up his life for the other. It was a very difficult choice for both parents, especially the mom, who really spoke up, passionately. Her argument was that she loved both children equally, without partiality.  I am sure many of us have also seen or heard about children, sons and daughters, husbands in prison who are loved by their moms and wives in spite of who they are. We saw the Baltimore mother pulling her son back from the face of violence the other day in Baltimore! Some have acclaimed her “the mother of the year 2015.”

Of course, we also live in a challenging time that some children, husbands tend to ignore if not abandon their parents, wives or aged moms in nursing homes, without visitation. Sometimes we forget their roles in our lives, and in our families. Without our moms many of us would not be here today. So today is the day we reflect on the love of our mothers, the role of women in the church and society,  appreciate them, pray for them, visit with them, take them out for dinner, if you can, or call them on the telephone if they are far away from you!

Today is also the day when we return to the foundation of true love, namely God, and reevaluate how we daily respond to his love, exemplified in  our loving mothers, by keeping his commandments, and  by loving our neighbors as God our friend has first loved us.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Homily(2) 5th Sunday of Easter Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo


Homily(2) 5th Sunday of Easter Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Acts 9: 26-31 Ps 22:26-32; 1 John 3:18-24 and John 15:1-8

  Remaining in Christ Jesus

 In the last discourse of John’s Gospel which we began reading last Sunday, Jesus continues to remind his disciples, of who he is. Jesus is not only the Way to the Father, he is the Truth, the Life (John 14), and the Vine (John 15), to whom we must remain as branches. He knew that his death would be devastating to the disciples, humanly speaking. We saw this in the conversation the two disciples on the way from Emmaus had. We saw this in Mary Magdalene. We saw this in Thomas and others.

After his resurrection, Jesus would not only have to appear to them here and there, but sometimes would eat fish with the disciples to show that he was still there with them. Apart from his appearances he knew he would ascend to the Father who sent him originally. Although the coming down of the Holy  Spirit on the Church was on the way, it was important for Jesus to stress the importance of his disciples sticking with him ( Gr. menĊ), remaining with him, consistence in doing good, in loving and believing, holding onto Jesus, his teachings, after he was gone physically.


He uses the imagery of the vine and the branches to drive home his point. Jesus is the vine, the source of life and nourishment, and we are the branches- nourished by the vine.  Whoever remains in him bears abundant fruits- because without Christ we can do nothing. Vine branches you know can’t survive on its own without the parent tree.

 Take faith for example. Faith, trust is a wonderful gift, and a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It is that spiritual nourishment that comes only from Christ the vine. As we are told in the 1st reading, it was not easy for the Disciples of Christ in Jerusalem to trust the repented Saul. They knew him to be a terrorist, a murderer and a persecutor of Christ. It takes faith and nourishment from God for us to trust one another, not to be afraid of one another. It takes faith and trust to see ourselves as brothers and sisters in the Lord, irrespectively of our cultural or biological differences. We need each other.

 What about the fruit of joy, peace in peace less world of today? (Think of the current Police/Black community crisis in Baltimore, and all over the United States today, as well as the proliferation of violence in the world). We need patience in a world that everybody is in a hurry today. We need kindness, goodness, faithfulness to our vows and church’s teachings that sometimes slip away from custody. We need gentleness and self-control in a modern world filled with greedy tendencies.  We need to remain with commandment of forgiveness and love (Gal 5:22), as well as allow Christ to take control of us, to prune us so that we can bear much fruits.

  The more reason  the author of 1st John  insists today that, “those who keep his commandments remain in him, and he in them, and the way we know that he remains in us is from the Spirit he gave us” (1 John 3:18-24). In other words, the best ways to remain in Christ is to live joyfully, lovingly, peacefully, selflessly, with patience-endurance, allowing Christ to prune us, forgiving those who have offended us, and showing sincere kindness to one another.