Saturday, September 16, 2017

Homily Twenty-Fourth Sunday Year A: Michael Ufok Udoekpo


Homily Twenty-Fourth Sunday Year A: Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·         Sir 27:30–28:7
·         Ps103:1-2,3-4,9-10,11-12
·         Rom 14:7-9
·         Matt 18:21-35

Our God is Slow to Anger, Rich in Love, Mercy and Compassion!

In the Book of Psalms, according Saint Ambrose:
“There is a profit for all, with healing power for salvation. There is instruction from history, teaching from the law, prediction from prophecy, chastisement from denunciation, persuasion for moral preaching. All who read it may find the cure for their own individual failings. All with eyes to see can discover in it a complete gymnasium for the soul, a stadium for all the virtues, equipped for every kind of exercise; it is for each to choose the kind he judges best to help him gain the prize.”

Today’s psalm 103 “the Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion” is available for us. It captures the essence of today’s worship and scriptural reflection on the nature of God, sin and sinner, forgiveness and reconciliation, divine virtues, especially of charity, love and care.
If God’s nature, going back to the Book of Exodus 34:6-7(cf. Jonah, Ps 85, Micah), is mercy, kindness, forgiveness,  infinite love, boundless charity, unlimited care, throughout the history of human salvation, every generation, including today’s generation, is expected to imitate God whose image they are made of.

The generation of Ben Sira of today’s first reading, Book of Sirach, a wisdom book, is aware of the usual human problems, such as appetite for vengeance, injustices, debts, loans, anger against one’s neighbor,  and the difficulty in forgiving those who may have offended us. Or those, that God may have forgiven, in a big way!  But, the good news is that, Ben Sira is wise and is aware of the very nature of God, who is mercy, love, joy , care and  compassionate throughout the history of God's  dealings with the humans. Ben Sira rightly admonish his audience saying: “forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven.”  He rhetorically ask, “Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his on sins... He went on to say, ‘remember the Most High’s covenant, and overlooks faults.”
Similarly, the generation of Christ  and his disciples is aware of these human problems, as well (appetite for vengeance, injustices, hatreds, violence, debts, loans, anger against one’s neighbor, and the difficulty in forgiving those who may have offended us, slightly, or those that God may even have forgiven, in a big way), as reflected in today’s Gospel parable, prompted by Peter’s question, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?  Jesus answers, “I say to you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times,” Meaning, infinite numbers of time of forgiveness ! (Matt 18:21-35).

 Having proposed unlimited forgiveness, Jesus, God’s incarnate, follows up with a parable, understandable to us. Here is a servant whose huge debt have been forgiven by the king. He is happy and seems to leave with a sense relief. But, the bad news is that he who had been forgiven a huge debt, is unable to forgive his friend, whom he threw into prison, the tiniest fraction of what he had been forgiven of, attracting upon himself, the king’s punishment, that he pays back his huge debt as well!
In our daily lives, forgiveness must not have any boundary. It must go beyond seven times, to the divine seventy-seven times.  In forgiving, seventy-seven times, it is good to look at the face of God, the face of Jesus, the King of Mercy, whom Pope Francis also sees mercy, love, and compassion in his pontificate! God chose him because he was merciful to him, as expressed in his motto: Miserando atque elegendo. How different would the modern world be if we imitate half of the pastoral approach or the theology of mercy, proposed by Francis, the Pope.

How different would our world be if we take "forgiveness" seriously as well as "reconciliation"? For “where there is no reconciliation or at least hope for reconciliation there cannot be forgiveness in real sense.” As in the case of the wicked servant of today’s gospel parable; he refuses the king’s forgiveness by refusing to reconcile with his friend who owed him a tiny debt.
How different would our world be if we all realize that God and the Church can forgive sinners, but they cannot condone evil behavior that causes suffering and injustices to others, offensive to truth, love and charity, or a sinner who chooses to stay in sin!

How different would our planet be if we imitate the forgiving instances Christ, in the Bible, be it in the case of the woman caught in adultery, the case of Matthew the tax collector, the case of Zacchaeus, the case Thomas the doubter, or in instance of the denying Peter!
At this Mass and worship, may we acknowledge that we are sinners in need of God’s forgiveness! May we also go out to the whole world, a changing world, and serve where ever we can, as agent of God’s love, boundless charity, mercy, compassion and forgiveness to our neighbors!

Reflection Questions:

1.      Have you ever owed or feel indebted and how do you go about it?

2.      What lessons have you drawn from today’s parable and scripture passages?

3.      How do you help to foster healing and reconciliation in your faith community?

4.      Are there moment that you feel unforgiving? And and how often do you reflect on the nature of God and his merciful face? Or Consider yourself forgiven?

 

 

 

 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Homily Twenty- Third Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo


Homily Twenty- Third Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·         Ezekiel 33:7-9;
·         Ps 95:1-2, 6-9’
·         Rom 13:8-10
·         Matthew 18:15-20

 Regaining our Personal and Communal Hope

Today’s Psalm 95 “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts,” invites us to worship the Lord, the King of kings, and the Shepherd of shepherds of Israel. It invites us to open our ears, our hearts, minds and soul and continuously be loyal to God. It reminds us what we learned in the past, and what we continue to learn today: the precepts of the Lord, the Ten Commandants, the love of God and love of one’ neighbor, as well as the teachings of the Church. The entire Bible readings of today, allow us to rise to our responsibilities, to regain our personal and communal hope. It urges us to re-embrace fraternal correction, the common good, and the desire to meet God in a special way, especially through love, mercy and charitable acts towards our neighbors, the poor and even towards the planets and our environments, as stressed by Pope Francis, in his Laudato si’(“On Care for our Common Home”). This we must do, regardless of our experiences!
Israel’s experience in the Babylonian exile of 587 BC was not a good one. It led to despair. Ezekiel addresses such despair or hopelessness in the 1st reading: a sermon of restoration, hope and reestablishment of the covenant, once broken by sin.

As a prophet of exile, Ezekiel is reappointed as God’s instrument, with a divine appellations “son of man” and as a “watchman” of Israel. These appellations point to Ezekiel’s humanity, and prophetic responsibilities. His duty is to courageously serve as an antidote to discouragement and despair.  He is an agent of hope and love. He is to bring fraternal correction to bear in the community.  As a watchman, Ezekiel is commissioned to remind Israel that the sins of one’s past count for nothing when we repent and do what is right. Are we not also called to be prophetic in our own ways, where ever we are? We are called to be our brothers and sisters keeper. Keeping the common good!

In Romans 13: 8-10, Saint Paul, like Ezekiel, plays the same prophetic role of preaching remedies to despair and discouragement. Paul re-emphasized the Ten Commandments we learned in our catechisms classes, and Sunday schools. Those in the Book of Exodus and of course in Deuteronomy “Shama Israel”, (Listen, Hear O Israel!). These laws are wonderful. Yet, for Saint Paul, love, mercy, forgiveness, or charity to our neighbors, especially the poor, fulfills these laws.
The same message reechoes in the Gospel (Matt 18:15-20) where Jesus says, if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault. If he refuses invites two other people to come with you. But if he still refuses to listen bring the matter to the church, the community of believers. For where two or three gathered in God’s name, God is surely in their midst.

In all these, when we put the messages of Ezekiel, Paul and that of Jesus together, one single theme stands out, namely’ “being our brothers/sisters keeper,” watching out for neighbors. In the case of Ezekiel, bringing them hope and support when everybody seems to be hopeless and despair. In the case of Paul, truly no one who loves his neighbor would think of stealing his neighbor’s property, abusing his children or wife, since “Love does no evil to the neighbor.” What stands out in the Gospel also is that, we be a watchman or a watchwoman to our neighbors in our prayers and counseling. We are called to be prophetic. Those pieces of advice we gently and compassionately give to our grandchildren, children, friends, partners, colleagues, spouses count. They go a long way to help. You never know! We are call to love and to watch our neighbors back, speak well about our neighbors, whether they are there or not.
Today, we live in a very troubling time. A time of immeasurable uncertainties, of poverty, widening gap between the poor and the rich. A time that we are confronted with climate change and natural tragedies, earthquakes and hurricanes. Nobody knows what the terrorists might do next. Nobody knows how far that earthquake, or hurricane might go. Nobody knows hundred percent, how far the wars going on in different parts of the world might extend. Or what those with nuclear weapons might do next. We are yet to control, 100 percent, recent outbreak of epidemics and diseases including AIDs and EBOLA. We still have gun violent, police brutalities, cultural and racial crises in our world.

In all these, we have every reason to listen to God’s voice and pray for our nations and world at large, our civil leaders and ecclesiastical leader.  Like Ezekiel, Paul and Christ, we have every reason to be our brothers and sister keepers, to constantly pray, advice, and watch out for one another; Regaining our personal and communal hope!

Reflection Questions:

1.    In what way are you prophetic Like Ezekiel, Paul or Christ-like in your homes, or areas of work and services?

2.    How often do you forgive or act charitable towards your neighbor or your environment and mother planet?

3.    How does your personal hope and trust in the Lord strengthen the despaired members of your faith community?

4.    How much good have you contributed towards the common good? Or help to spread the Gospel?

 

 

 

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Homily Twenty-Second Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo


Homily Twenty-Second Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·         Jer 20:7-9;
·          Ps 63:2-9;
·          Rom 12:1-2
·         Matthew 16:21-27

 Trusting and following God in times of frustrations, pains, sorrows
“My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God,” (Ps 63:2b). This exquisite Psalm 63 captures the theme and the spirit of today’s Bible Readings and worship; namely “Confidence and Trust in God, even in times of pains and sorrows, rejections and uncertainties". Psalm 63 is a prayer of trust and a hymn of intimacy with God, no matter what!

Truly, there are moments in our lives that God seems to be too far away. It is such moments that today’s Psalmist refers to, metaphorically in the song: “for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water,” (v.2). In our moments of seeming rejection, loneliness, pains, sorrows, hurricanes, natural disasters, sufferings, we are encouraged to look into the sanctuary of history for lessons and wisdom. We are called to appreciate what God has done for us in the past. And realize that God is ever present with us today and in the future (vv.3-6).
Experiences of temporary frustrations, agonies, uncertainties, pains and sorrows are nothing new. Jeremiah, Paul and our Lord Jesus Christ, and his disciples, led by Peter of today’s Gospel, had their shares. 

 In the case of Jeremiah, of all Israel’s prophets, he suffered most. He is a type of Christ of today’s Gospel, heading to suffer in Jerusalem.  Jeremiah was many times publicly rejected. He was once placed in stocks (Jer 20:1-2). He was put on trial, not by the poor, nor by those on the margin, but by priests who demanded his death (26:10-11). Can you imagine priests demanding the death of a prophet of God?
 Jeremiah was banished from the Temple (Jer 36:5), because of his fearless and alternative ways of preaching (Jer 7; 26). Jeremiah together with his friend Baruch were often made to go into hiding (Jer 36:19). Jeremiah was arrested, beaten and imprisoned like Saint Paul of the Second reading. (Jer 37:12-16). He experienced house arrest (Jer 37:20-21) and was abandoned in a muddy cistern (Jer 37:1-6).  In all these, remember, Jeremiah was human, like any of us. His pains, frustrations and sorrows led Jeremiah to complain and to pray in lamentations.

The first reading of today is one of such complaints and lamentations. How often do we not lament, and sometimes focusing only on our ourselves and personal needs. Jeremiah lamented: “You duped me O Lord, and I let myself be duped; you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. All the day I am an object of laughter; every one mocks at me.”
Have you ever been laughed at, or felt deceived? Have you ever been mocked?  These are the parched lands, and the lifeless earths, without water of Jeremiah put into music by today’s Psalmist. But the good news is that Jeremiah like the Psalmist channeled their complaints, miseries and worries directly to God whom they trusted in prayer as the father of love and mercy. Recall the Misericordia et misera of Pope Francis, on November 20, 2016. In all our miseries the Lord clothes us  with his divine mercy!

Similarly, it was not all that easy for Saint Paul in all his travels and preaching of the Good News of Christ. Even though the mercy and love of God was with him, during his miseries and pains, like Jeremiah, Paul was beaten, tried, rejected and imprisoned here and there. But Paul’s attitude in all these is evident in his Letter to the Romans, the 2nd reading, (12:1-2).  Paul says, “Brothers and sisters, I urge you, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.”
Sacrifices, and self-abandonment are demanded of us in all that we do, as believers. It is such sacrifices that Christ reminded his disciples of, in today’s Gospel, Matthew 16:21-27, who thought it was unthinkable that Christ would go to Jerusalem to suffer as he had foretold.

Recall after Peter’s Confession of the divinity of Christ in Caesarea Philippi, in last Sunday’s reading, Jesus praised and blessed Peter. He gave the keys of the Church to Peter, but went on to explain that it was necessary, it was the will of God, and that he goes up to Jerusalem in order to suffer, be killed and on the third day be raised. The disciples did not understand this type of language that it was actually through suffering or the cross of Christ that we find salvation.  Peter and his friends were at different level with different thinking, as we often do!  He almost became an obstacle “satanic” to Christ. For Christ, “Whoever wishes to come after him, must deny himself/herself, take up his or her cross and follow him.”
This invitation to take up the cross, explains the parched land and the lifeless earth, the waterless planet of the psalmist. It explains and sooths the duping and the frustration of Jeremiah. It explains the call to “spiritual worship,” of Paul.  It explains the fact that our relationship with God must go beyond self-seeking and material level. Our relationship with God must go beyond seeking earthly values to seeking heavenly values. It challenges us to that facts that with prayers, deeper trusting, constant longing and thirsting for God, that our pains, illness, tribulations, frustrations, rifts and misunderstandings, can be handled.

 As we brave our daily crosses, personal trials, and agonies of seeming lifelessness and dryness, like Jeremiah, Christ and Paul, our lives must not exclude our concern for others. The more intimate we are with God, trusting him, following him, the closer we are called to be charitable to God’s extended families, our neighbors and our planet, as well.
Reflection Questions:

1.    In your various states of live, vocation have you ever felt like Jeremiah, St. Paul, or Peter and his friends of today’s Gospel? And what do you do!

2.    How do you assist members of your faith communities who come to you with their experiences of pains, crosses, sufferings, hurricanes, disappointments, and frustrations of one form or the other?

3.    Have you ever misled or be an obstacle to a member of your faith community who is growing in faith! Or treat the planet unfairly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Homily Twenty-First Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo


Homily Twenty-First Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·         Isaiah 22:19-23;
·         Ps 138:1-3, 6, 8;
·         Rom 11:33-36
·         Matthew 16:13-20

 A God of Surprise and Giver of Keys Of Responsibilities

Many of us do not like to be surprised, except with anniversary gifts! But our God is a God of surprises. To be surprised implies that we have surrendered at least some of our autonomy(ies). It means events, wonders and amazements have taken place in which we have little or no control, but only to trust in God. Many of such events abound in our lives. In those moments, God is at work. He creates and recreates. He admonishes sinners and welcomes the repentant. He can make king and has the power too to bring kings down. He promotes and demotes.  He changes sufferings into joy, failures into success, illness into good health, and death into life. This is true when we take a closer look into today’s Bible lessons. The Lord entrusted us with the keys to join in building the kingdom.
 In the first reading (Isa 22:19-23), there is a contrast drawn between two court officials during the time of Hezekiah. They were Shebna and Eliakim. Shabna was irresponsible, building a tomb for himself, faithless, abusive, unstable, pompous and selfish (Isa 22:1-18). As a result he was disgraced out of office (v 19). God surprisingly replaces him with Eliakim, whom he calls his servant (v 20). Eliakim is a father to the people (v 21), dependable and solid like a peg.  What a surprise from Shebna to Eliakim! We are invited to be servants of God and of one another.

Above all during prayers we are challenged to believe in a God of surprises. He surprises us through others and through daily events and circumstances. Some of them may initially look ugly. But don’t lose the mystery of hope. Saint Paul reechoes this surprising nature of God in the second reading (Rom 11:33-36) when he says: “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom, and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways.”
 Similar elements of divine surprises occur in Matthew’s Gospel today. Who would have thought that the same would-be “Denying Peter,” during the Passion Week would surprisingly get the answer put by Christ, “who do people think that I am.” Surprisingly, ahead of other disciples, Peter got it. He professed Christ as the Son of the living God (matt 16:6).   As a result, and like Eliakim who was given the symbols of power, the keys of the house of David in the first reading (Isa 22:23), Peter is divinely entrusted with the keys of responsibilities: to lead, love, forgive and preach faith and hope. He is pastorally blessed and confirmed as the rock upon which Christ’s Church shall be built (vv.18-19).

Each of us has role to play in using the keys entrusted to us by God for the service of God and our neighbors. We are to be a rock and a pillar for one another!
Metaphorically, rocks in rural African families are used for multiple purposes. They are used to crack or produce kernels (from palms) sold for economic livelihood of many families.  Rocks are also used in most cultures for homes, offices’, road or bridge constructions to support and sustain nations and society. In another sense, they are used to build bridges of unity, forgiveness, reconciliation, and ecumenism, inter- religious or cultural dialogue and peace much needed today in our world! O course, God is the "Rock of all Ages."

I know when we experience wars, threats of terrorism, tragedies, civil unrest and other forms of disorientation, we often succumb to the fallacy that God is not really interested in our affairs and concerns. We may feel that we are not persons, only numbers in a gigantic universe. Like Peter and his successors including Pope Francis, in particular, we are encouraged to trust in God. We are invited to be our neighbor’s and planet’s rock of hope and support. We are called to be the rock, keys, and the pillars for our neighboring poor, the immigrants, the rejected, the homeless, the voiceless, the sick, the needy and the suffering of our generations.    

Reflection Questions:

1.    Do you see yourself in Shebna, Eliakim, or Peter in today’ readings?

2.    How have you been using your keys and your assigned responsibilities to foster dialogue, unity, protect the planet, family values, love and empowerment of the poor and marginalized of your faith community?

3.    Name  one or two ways you have used the pillars and the rocks of your gifts to give glory and thanks to God’s name.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Homily 19th Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo


Homily 19th Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

 ·       1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a;
·       Ps 85:9-14;
·       Rom 9:1-5
·        Matthew 14:22-33

  God of Our Peace: It is he; do not be afraid!

 Today we gather on this mountain, God’s presence, God’s abode to celebrate the God of peace; to worship the God of truth; to adore the God of love and gentleness. A God who can walk on the sea. Who can calm the storms and the waves of life?  On this mountain, he says to each of us today do not be afraid of violence.  In this house God says to us today do not be afraid of wars, threats and waves of war. Do not be afraid of Ahab and Jezebel. Do not be afraid of the wild winds and storms, it is I (ego eimi, ayer asher ayeh). This God of peace is revealed not only in the songs we sing today, or the Eucharist we celebrate, but also in the passages of today’s scriptures.

 In the 1st reading (1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a), we are told the prophet Elijah came to the mountain and sheltered himself in the cave. But first of all what brought Elijah to the mountain? He was fleeing from the threats and persecution of Ahab and Jezebel, who had accused him of challenging and defeating their 450 false prophets, Baalism (1 kings 18:1-19:8).  Elijah was searching for peace, truth, and security.

 What brings you to the church, today, if I may ask?  I am sure we came to pray for peace, joy, calmness, God’s blessings, good health of mind and body. None of us come here to pray for nuclear war in our neighborhood or for violent and threats of Jezebel and Ahab, who had threatened Elijah!

In the case of Elijah peace was not found in the cave. Peace was not found in the fire and fury! Peace was not found in the storm. Peace was not found in the earthquakes, as he stood on top of the mountain. Prophet Elijah found peace, security, truth, and God in the gentle breeze that passed by.

 In our daily challenges, and storms, when you are being pursued or chased around by economic hardship, threats and fear of the unknown and debts, this is the type of peace each and every one of us are looking for, especially when the world seems to be against you!

Do you notice that in today’s Gospel (Matt 14:22-33), Jesus, the new prophet, like Elijah, was also on the mountain by himself to pray? This is after he might have generously fed the crowd and directed his disciples, including Peter, into the boat, who preceded him to the other side. It was not long when Peter’s boat was being tossed around by the waves, for the wind was against it. Peter and his colleagues were afraid. They even mistook Jesus on the sea to be a ghost!

 Peter’s faith was not strong enough as he stepped  out of the boat or attempted walking on the water to meet Jesus! Peter was afraid of the wind! And cried out, “Lord save me.” It only takes the Jesus, the Lord of peace not only to calm the sea, but to save us, and to save Peter, even with his little faith, even with his little courage of stepping out of the boat to meet Jesus!

Think of our own situations and problems today. We do have our waves and storms of life in form of disunity, racisms, conflicting opinions of theologies and spiritualties; persecutions and misunderstandings, threats of war, poverty, ill health, loss of our loved ones, and hostilities even to the planet and our environments; break down of family values; global indifference to the plight of the poor; secularism and consumerism tendencies. As we gather on this mountain today to pray like Elijah and Jesus, let us remember that, in our storms, waves and life’s turbulence, that Jesus is the source of peace and calm! And we want to always listen to him say to us “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid”!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Homily Feast of Transfiguration August 6 Year A: Michael Ufok Udoekpo


Homily Feast of Transfiguration August 6 Year A: Michael Ufok Udoekpo

·         Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

·         2 Peter 1:16-19

·         Ps97:1-2,5-6,9

·         Matt 17:1-9(Yr. A) Mark 9:2-10(Yr.) and Luke 9:28b-36 (Yr.)

 

Placing our Faith In the transforming Power of Christ

 When the Feast of Transfiguration falls on a Sunday (like today, the 18th Sunday of the Year in Ordinary time, this year), Transfiguration replaces the Sunday Liturgy. It is an important celebration that points us to the transforming effect of Christ, empowered by God his father, who in the first place sent Jesus his Son as the savior and redeemer of the world, to touch us with his healing hands so that we may be transformed and be not afraid!

 This message of be not afraid runs through today’s readings. Looking and listening again to the scripture just read, the mystery of transfiguration is nothing else, but a feast of hope, courage, faith, and trust in the Lord, when we face trials, when we are confronted with the unknown, when we are uncertain of the future, when we are afraid, disillusioned and frustrated, as people would always do in history. The passages we have just read from Daniel and 2 Peter were written at various times in biblical history, to strengthen the faith of their believing audiences who were persecuted, who were afraid of their present and future.

Have you ever been persecuted, or read about persecution in literature or watch them on TV? Have you ever experience fear or feel uncertain of today, or tomorrow? If so, this feast is for you. Today’s readings are for you. The gospel message is for you and your family!

 Transfiguration is an important, or call it a significant event. Perhaps the more reason the feast is recorded in the three– synoptic gospels: Mathew (17:1-9), Mark (9:2-10) and Luke (9:28-36), almost in the same context. In the midpoint of their stories, and soon after Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ.

 We are told in today’s account, after being led up the mountain( abode of God) by Jesus, Peter James and John witnessed Jesus being changed and transfigured before them. Jesus’ face shining like the sun and his clothes became white as light. And behold Moses and Elijah, two great prophets of Israel came charting with him. It was so peaceful that Peter proposes that three tents  be constructed for them: One for Moses, and the other two for Elijah and Christ.  Remember when man proposes God disposes. Barak in the Book of numbers wanted Balaam to curse Israel, but God directed Balaam to bless Israel. Peter in this gospel is directed by an angelic voice from heaven to listen to God’s beloved Son, whose mysteries we celebrate every day.  With the touch of Jesus, the new prophet, the disciples were told to rise up and never to be afraid again!

 
Let me ask again, have you ever been afraid? What are your fears! What are you afraid of: Power, money, health? Transfiguration allows Jesus to consult God his father in order to reassures his disciples, of the healing power and transforming touch of Christ. As Jesus touches his disciples in today’s gospel, and dispels their fears uncertainties, he touches us through our various sacraments- Baptism, Holy Eucharist, Confirmation, Penance, Matrimony, Holy Order and anointing of the sick. He touches us, he anoints us through the scriptures and through the charity we do, and through the good relationship we build and nature with our neighbors.
 
When God anoints us, we are transformed and changed from sorrow to joy, from despair to hope, from a sense hatred to that of love, from vindictiveness to mercy and forgiveness, from exclusion to that of inclusion, especially of the poor, women and children, from hostilities to the planet and environment to the care and love of the planet, our common home…messages of Pope Francis as well. When Jesus touches us, we are transform. We listen more to him, as Peter, James and John. When he touches us we Dialogue with one another, with the sensus fidelium.  We regain our peace!

  Let us pray at this Mass for the spirit of love, faith, hope, peace, trust and openness to the transforming effects, and healing touch of Jesus.

 

 

 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Homily17th Sunday of the Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo


Homily17th Sunday of the Year A: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

·         1 Kings 3:5, 7-12;
·         Ps 119:57, 72, 76-77,127-130;
·          Rom 8:28-30
·          Matt 13:44-52


Understanding the treasure of God’s Love

Throughout history the Lord is always loving, forgiving and ready to assist us with all our needs. In the first reading of today (1 Kgs 3:5, 7-12) the Lord at Gibeon appeared to the young and inexperienced king Solomon in a dream. Divinely encouraged, Solomon asked the Lord neither for riches, long life, fame, nor for power to dominate those he disagreed with, but for the gift of the spirit of understanding and discernment of God’s ways of dealing with us. He ask for an administrative prudence as well!

In his dealings with us, God forbids tyranny, pursuit of evils, rash and harsh judgments of our neighbors and other creation. God rejects dictatorship of all forms that we sometime find in our contemporary society. In dealing with us, God forbids apostasy and worship of false gods, and rushing into decisions without first discerning and committing them to God in prayers.  Even in the midst of our daily sufferings and persecutions we need discernment to realize that “all things work together for good for those who love God.” (Rom 8:28-30).

And those who truly love God will, but pursue the values of His Kingdom, which Jesus in parables, compares with a “treasure,” and a “pearl,” discovered unexpectedly. It is also compared with a “net” that hauls in fish “of every kind”, bad and good (Matt 13:44-52).

What is important in the first two parables of the discovered treasure and pearl is our joyful and total response to finding God after a long, committed, dedicated and successful search. It doesn’t matter how long it takes us to succeed, to discover the treasure of God’s love and forgiveness.  Commitment and dedication are recommended for every Christian. God's time frame is not our time frame. When we succeed God wants us as his disciples, and like the Evangelist Matthew to share with joy and humility our experience and giftedness of Him. He wants us to carry along those who are yet to succeed!

These gifts and faith we received from God as Christians must be at the service of our families, ecclesial and civil communities made up of people of all kinds, saints an sinners hauled in by the “net.”  In our times, we want to share the stories of our faith with our children and grandchildren today, and everyone one, the poor and the rich, saints and sinners.. We want to tell them where we came from in faith, the journeys thus far and how God has blessed us, and how things were done before now, the movies that were watched, the seniors and the aged that were cared for and even the parents and the teachers that were respected. We want to share with our fellow workers, colleagues and friends- those values and honesty that were taught and promoted – the Christ that you have discovered. These treasures are not meant for our selfish custody.

Truly, sometimes our times are filled with selfishness, materialism, subjectivism, and abuse of power in some quarters, neglect of faith and the role of God in our lives, lack of understanding of our neighbors, our subjects, bosses, fellow workers and family members. Our times are also being mixed up with inability to separate evil from good, right from wrong. What some people would call “mixed bag.” Anything goes! Sometimes freedom without responsibility!

Like Solomon let us pray for God’s wisdom today in our daily choices, judgments, evaluations, administration, and discernments. Let us also pray for the grace to always understand the treasure of God’s love, His goodness for us   and the values of His Kingdom
!