Friday, September 26, 2014

Homily (2) 26th Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) 26th Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Eze 18:25-28; Ps 25:4-9; Phil 2:1-11 and Matt 21:28-32
Our Faith Journey is Not Over!

In our society today, it is very common to blame others for our failures and past mistakes. Just as it is common to attribute our successes to others. This is why we have  formed the concepts of individual and collective responsibilities. With collective responsibility we easily tend to see ourselves as victims, and blame the present on the past. Of course, such tendency is not new. When we look closely at the history of Israel, God's chosen people, it was there. Sin and suffering were blamed on the mistakes  of their ancestors.  Even in the time of Christ, you would recall the incidence of the healing of the blind man, in John 9, when the Disciples of Christ asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?”(John 9:1-41). It is very easy for any of us to hold onto the past, to constantly blame the past on the present! Or to think that all hope is lost!

Today’s readings, beginning with the Prophet Ezekiel emphasis the hope, that is never lost! Our faith journey is not yet over. Every present moment of a Christian is important. Individual attitude, disposition, willingness, volition and humility to come back to God, in obedience, prayer and thankfulness  are all important.

Ezekiel’s prophecy of individual responsibility becomes clear at a time when the chosen people had lost not only the monarchy, but the land and the temple. They found themselves in exile. Ezekiel’s contemporaries saw their lost and sufferings as a consequence, not of their sinfulness, but of their ancestors. They believed they were not responsible, but rather were victims. And in fact, they also thought that God was unfair to them.

Ezekiel challenges this erroneous mindset and argues that each person bears personal responsibility for his or her own conduct. Ezekiel, a fellow exiled, stresses that, “when someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies, it is because of the iniquity that he must die. But if he turns from the wickedness, he has committed and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life. Since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die,” (Eze 18:25-28), the land shall be regained.
For Ezekiel,  in as much as hope is central God’s focus is on the present, and not mainly on the past. Nations and individual can be free from the guilt of the past, the lost glory could be restored, by turning to God with humility, today. The past sins must not prevent today’s repentance or change of heart.

This fits into Jesus parable about the two sons in today’s  Matthean Gospel (Matt 21:28-32), as our Lord journeys to Jerusalem. In this parable, the first son says to his father, I will not work in the vineyard. But, later changes his mind to work in the vineyard; while the second son who promises to work in the vineyard, never did at all.

Any of us can be any of these two sons, and behave likewise, especially the first son, changing our minds to do the will of God, our father. Conversion is ongoing, onward not backward. It is a process. It is never too late, even for tax collectors, prostitute or for those who might find themselves in any bad past habit of sins.

Saint Augustine, and many other saints, who were once sinners but later became saints, are good models for us. Even Paul whose Letter to the Philippians we read today, in the second reading, was once a persecutor of the faith, before he became a promoter of the Good news of Christ to the Gentiles.

In that second reading, Paul reminds the Philippians, of course, all of us the deeds and the attitude of Christ that we are called to imitate, irrespective of our past mistakes. Love, mercy, selflessness, compassion, hospitality, and humility should be our catchwords.  Paul reminds us that, Christ, though he was in the form of God, he did not count equality with God. Rather, he humbled himself. He freely became obedient onto the cross, through his faith, and hope preaching on the street of Jerusalem.

Our nations, our continents, our families, each of us, individually can always step back, and look at our past mistakes and even accomplishments.  Our Christian journey is like a two side coin.  On one side, even though we have been baptized and received various sacraments in the past, it is our responsibility to actively nuture those promises we made on those occasions, till the end. Even though we have achieved a lot in faith, we don’t one to backslide. We want to keep the faith till the end!  And on the other side, Christ frees us from the sins of the past if we are willing to say yes, and turn to him, today.  Or be able to personally pray with the psalmist, “your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths”(Ps 25).  Every present moment is a moment of decision, and our faith journey is not yet over!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

Homily (2) 25th Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) 25th Sunday of Year A:  Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 55:6-9; Ps 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18 and Phil 1: 20c-24,27a and Matt 20:1-16a.
The Graciousness of God

“The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in kindness. The Lord is good to all and compassionate towards all his words,” (Ps 145.)

These words of the psalmist define what we celebrate today, namely;  the mystery of the goodness of the Lord, his righteousness, his love and mercy; his generosity, his grace, and the mystery of his  divine justice! We celebrate the character of God. His willingness to keep, to renew the covenant he has long established with our athers and mothers: Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Leah, Rachel, Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim , Moses, David!

Recall, in Exodus 32 when Moses delayed in coming down from the mountain, the Israelites made other gods for themselves. They broke the covenant, practiced idolatries, and sought other gods.  God, because of who he is: love, kindness, compassion, truth, justice, righteousness, did not break away from Israel, completely.

 With Moses’ plea, God reestablishes his covenant with Israel, in Exodus 34. In facts, God’s mercy spares Lot in the City of Sodom and Gomorrah. God’s mercy spares the people of Nineveh. God’s mercy brought Israelites back from exiles. In facts, successive prophets, Amos, and particularly Hosea in his marriage affairs with Gomer portrays this same image of a forgiving and merciful God.

This image of God reflects in today’s readings.  Isaiah 55:6-9, is a story of sin, pardon and glory. It is a story of exile and  the invitation of the returnee to seek the Lord. It is a story of the mystery of God’s love and of restoration of the fortunes of those who seek him. His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts.

He keeps his doors of mercy and generosity open for all.  He knows our needs. This is true in parable of today’s Gospel, where God, the land owner, distributes his wealth equally to various groups of laborers whom he employed at various hours of the day; morning, afternoon and evening. This is how God teaches us his own definition of justice. He is not unjust because he has not broken any of  the contracts he established with his various workers, even as stipulated in the Levitical and Deuteronomic codes(Lev 19:13 and Deut 24:14-15). God keeps to his promises!

This parable sound familiar to us in a world of broken justice system, broken contracts, mutual agreements and promises, unemployment and underpayment of minimum wages to church and govement workers. This parable invites us to reevaluate how we make effort to keep our vows (religious and secular), carry out our responsibilities and fulfil our commitments beginning from our homes, families to the public offices.

Another point worth taking note of in the Gospel is envy. Sometimes we grumble and envy other’s talents and gifts, even when our neighbors’ gifts do not threaten us, or stand on our ways, nor prevent us from exercising our talents and God’s given gifts.

To let Christ be magnified in our bodies as Paul would put it in the second reading, is to appreciate and imitate God’s sense of justice and seek God. It is to be kind, merciful, forgiving,  gracious, selfless, compassionate, fidelity to the truth of the Gospels, and the teaching of Christ’s Church- loving as well, as Christ would have first loved us.





Saturday, September 13, 2014

Homily (2) The Exaltation of the Holy Cross Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) The Exaltation of the Holy Cross Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Numbers 21:4b-9; Ps 78:1bc-2, 34-38; Phil 2:6-11 and John 3:13-17

Christ's Cross: A Symbol of Hope and Salvation

Today’s feast reminds us what we hear in the Passion Week, especially in the Gospel of John, chapters 18-19 that the death of Christ on the cross was not a defeat, but victory. Christ’s Cross is a symbol of hope and freedom for all. The early Christians embraced this. Its public veneration spread from East to West, especially during the time of Constantine, the Roman emperor. We are told, Helen, the Emperor’s mother went to Jerusalem, discovered, and brought the cross of Christ to Rome, sparing it from the enemies’ desecration.

 This Cross is Sacred, powerful, and salvific.  It is the center of our Christian faith. We make the sign of this cross at worships, at baptism and when we receive various other sacraments in the Church. We began every (this) Mass with the sign of the Cross. Soccer and Football players, in fact sport men and women, even none practicing Christians sign themselves with the cross for success and protection, at the beginning and at the end of their competitions. Christ’s journey to the cross teaches us, everyone, especially, through the Bible readings of today some fundamentals of our faith: courage, endurance, hope, patience, humility and appreciation of all that the Lord has done for us in the past.

 Psalm 78 drums this home, “do not forget the works of the Lord!” What works of the Lord is the psalmist refereeing to? I believe the “cross of the exodus,”’ the freedom from the tyranny of Pharaoh; alleviation from their pains, feeding them when they were thirsty and hungry in the desert and liberating them from various exiles during the course of Israel’s relationship with God.

 But how easy it is to forget the goodness of the Lord, to murmur, to complain as was the case in today’s first reading, the Book of Numbers. The same people that God has once assisted said to Moses, “Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the desert, where there is no food or water?” God sent a snake  to challenge them. But when they finally repent God instructed Moses to put up a fashioned bronze serpent so that the afflicted or those once bitten, could be saved by looking up  to the serpent on the tree. The bronze snake no doubt is a symbol of life and wisdom. It is a symbol of Christ who did not count equality with God, but humbled himself on the  tree of the cross, to save us. His humility, courage and endurance exalted him (Phil 2:6-11). And his volitional journey to the cross raised us and our loved ones from the death.

 Many of us have also watched the Passion of Christ reenacted in movies. Some of those scenes are very brutal. The weight of the cross, the blood, the nails, the violent soldiers, the dusty road, those who spitted on cross or those who shouted Crucify him, Crucify him! The thorns and crowns! All these reminds us that there are different forms of crosses in our lives. It could be illness, poverty, and threats of terrorism, violence, war, tiredness, and pains on the knees, eyes, legs, heart problems, kidney, high blood pressure, or sugar in our blood. Others could be anger, bad habits, lack of team spirit, inability to live or work with one another; lack of tolerance. What about gossips and lack of self-control? You name them!

All these can lead us to whine, murmur, and complain like the Israelites, in the desert. But the good news is that these bitter experiences can also be handled with faith and trust in the goodness of the Lord. We can always look back and trust in his work, knowing that the Lord has the experience of dealing with these types problems, in the past.  It requires our patience, courage, and endurance to embrace the cross of Christ. It also takes humility to raise our eyes, and look on to that cross, hanging above our pains, and sorrows. Christ’s cross is also superior to our failures, setbacks and other forms of sufferings.

This is the same conversation that Christ is having with Nicodemus in today’s Gospel (John 3:13-17). The Lord is good, merciful and loving at all times. Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert for those bitten, and afflicted to be saved, so must the son of man be lifted up, so that  each of us who look upon him in our sufferings and illnesses, in our bitterness, in our sorrows, in our disappointments, loneliness and uncertainties may be saved. Christ's Cross is a symbol of hope and salvation for all.



Saturday, September 6, 2014

Homily(2) 23rd Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) 23rd Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Ezekiel 33:7-9; Ps 95:1-2, 6-9’ Rom 13:8-10 and 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, the shepherd of Israel. It invites us to open our ears, our hearts, mind 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, an increase our appetite for fraternal correction, and the desire to meet God in a special way.

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, emphasizing his humanity, and prophetic responsibilities. His duty is to courageously serve as an antidote to discouragement and despair. 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.

In Romans 13: 8-10, Saint Paul, like Ezekiel, plays the same prophetic role of preaching remedies to despair and discouragement. Paul re-articulate the 10 commandments we learned in our catechisms classes, and Sunday schools. Those in the Book of Exodus and of course in Deuteronomy “Shama Israel”, (Listen Israel). These laws are wonderful. But for Paul, love or charity to our neighbors fulfills them.

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. 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 uncertainties, of poverty, widening gap between the poor and the rich . Nobody knows what the terrorists might do next. Nobody knows how far that earthquake might go. Nobody knows hundred percent, how far the wars going on in different parts of the world might extend. We are yet to control  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!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Homily (2) 22nd Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) 22nd Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Jer 20:7-9; Ps 63:2-9; Rom 12:1-2 and Matthew 16:21-27

 Trusting God during pains and 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". Psalm 63 is a prayer of trust and a hymn of intimacy with God.

Truly, there are moments in our lives that God seems to be too far away. It is such moments that Psalmist refers to, through in metaphor, when he says, “earth, or land, parched, lifeless and without water,” (v.2). In those moments, we are called to look into the sanctuary of history. We are called to appreciate what God has done for us in the past. And realize that God is ever present with us (vv.3-6).

Experiences of temporary frustrations, agonies, pains and sorrows are not new. Jeremiah, Paul and our Lord Jesus Christ, had their  shares.  Jeremiah, of all Israel’s prophets, is the one who suffered most and who was often publicly rejected. He was once placed in stocks (Jer 20:1-2). He was put on trial by priests who demanded his death (26:10-11). Priests demanding the death of a prophet of God. Jeremiah was banished from the Temple (Jer 36:5), because of fearless 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 (Jer 37:12-16). He experienced house arrest (Jer 37:20-21) and  life in a muddy cistern (Jer 37:1-6).  Of course, Jeremiah was human. His pains, frustrations and sorrows often led Jeremiah to complain.

The first reading of today is one of such complaints: “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? Have you ever been mocked?  These are the parched lands, and the lifeless earths, without water of Jeremiah and the Psalmist.. But the good news is that Jeremiah like the Psalmist channeled their complaint and worries directly to God their trusting God, in prayer.

It was not all that easy for Saint Paul in all his travels and preaching of the Good News of Christ. Like Jeremiah, he was beaten, tried, rejected and imprisoned here and there. But Paul’ attitude to all these is evident in his Letter to the Romans (12:1-2). He 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.”

It is such sacrifices that Christ reminded is disciples of, in today’s Gospel, Matthew 16:21-27. After Peter’s Confession of the divinity of Christ in Caesarea Philippi. Jesus praised and blessed Peter. He gave the keys of the Church to Peter, but went on to explain that he has to go up in order to suffer in Jerusalem, be killed and on the third day be raised. The disciples did not understand this type of talk. They are at a different level. But Christ insists, “Whoever wishes to come after him, must deny himself/herself, take up his or her cross and follow him.”

This call to self-denial explains the parched land and the lifeless earth, the waterless planet of the psalmist. This explains the duping and the frustration of Jeremiah. It explains the call to “spiritual worship,” of Paul.  Ultimately, it explains the fact that our relationship with God must go beyond the material level; from earthly kingdom to the heavenly kingdom.  It is 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, agonies or of seeming lifelessness and dryness, our lives must not exclude our concern for others. The more intimate we are with God, the closer we are called to be charitable to God’s extended families and our neighbors. And in our personal prayers to our God with whom we trust, we must seek to make our sense of this divine trust a reality, particularly to our neighbors, and troubling world, in general.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Homily (2) 21st Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) 21st Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isaiah 22:19-23; Ps 138:1-3, 6, 8; Rom 11:33-36 and Matthew 16:13-20

 Our God is full of Surprises

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. 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, including Psalms 138.

 First of all, in the first reading (Isa 22:19-23), there is a contrast drawn between two court officials during the time of Hezekiah known as Sheba and Eliakim. Shabna was irresponsible, faithless, abusive, unstable, pompous and selfish (Isa 22:1-18) hence demoted and disgraced out of office (v 19). God surprisingly replaces him with Eliakim, whom he call 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!

During prayers we are challenged to believe in a God of surprises, who 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).

Rocks, repeated metaphors in today's readings 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.  Globally, they are used in most cultures for homes, offices’, road or bridge constructions to support and sustain nations and society. Of course, in another sense, bridges of unity, forgiveness, reconciliation, ecumenism, inter- religious or cultural dialogue and peace much needed today.

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 rock of hope and support. We are called to be the rock 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.    

Finally, Psalm 138, reminds us to be praiseful and thankful to our God who surprises us always with his love and protection. He loves us constantly and eternally, even in the midst of our earthly predicaments. And he invites us to do the same to one another, and to pray, rejoice, and marvel at his manifold gifts and blessings of surprises!




Friday, August 15, 2014

Homily (2) 20th Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) 20th Sunday of Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isaiah 56:1.6-7; Ps 67:2-3, 5-8; Rom 11:13-15, 29-32 and Matthew 15:21-28

 God’s Blessing Is Inclusive
God’s blessing is inclusive. It is a gift sufficient unto Jews, Gentiles, men and women, eunuchs and non-eunuchs, foreigners and non-foreigners, poor and the rich. God’s blessing are sufficient to people of all walks of life and nations.

These blessings include the gift of life, land and property; the gift of good health, the gift of our families, education and occupations. The virtues: faith, hope and love. The gift of patience and the healings we received from God whenever we are sick. The gifts of our communities particularly the Church and her teachings. The gifts to remember to pray and to be grateful to God! These are all blessings from God to everyone.

This subject of inclusiveness of God’s blessings is at the center of today’s Bible lessons. Psalm 67, for instance, pointedly presents us with a praying community that petitions God, “O God let all the nations praise you! (Psalm 67:4). The question is why would the nations, including Israel praise God? Because of all the blessings and gifts they have always received from God, throughout their history.

In the wilderness God was with Israel. He accompanied them through their experiences in exiles. The situation of today’s first reading, from Isaiah 56, is post-exilic (after- the exile), when Israel have just returned from the Babylonian exile. It was a time of high expectations and immense difficulties. There was tension between the returnees (gĂ´lah) and the people of the land, including foreigners who had been living in the area when they were absence, and the foreign wives and children married and raised in exiles.  They were limited resources, inefficient leadership, place and space of worship, small and perhaps under construction mutual suspicions and hostilities everywhere, injustices and element of discrimination and segregation prevailed.

 In the first reading Isaiah calls for openness, tolerance and justice. Isaiah advocates love and universalism in the new community. He says, “observes what is right and do what is just… for my house shall be a house of prayer for all peoples.” Notice, God’s house is a gift from God. Notice, also Isaiah did not say this gift is ‘for some people,” but “for all people,” Jews and Gentiles, the weak and the strong, the sick and the healthy, the young and the old, male and female, adult and children.

St. Paul did the same in his own way, during his missionary journeys. He was often seen as a proud champion  universalism in terms of spreading the Gospel of Christ to all nations, the Gentiles. Though Jewish by birth, he calls himself, an “apostle of the Gentile.” He preached tirelessly everywhere, and reassured the Church, particularly in Rome the irrevocable mercy and  unlimited love of God to all nations (Rom 11:13-15, 29-32).

Furthermore, today’s Gospel episode (Matt 15:21-28) sums up these messages of inclusiveness of God’s healing love and favor to his people. Though Jewish, as well, Jesus loves the Canaanite woman. Jesus is merciful to the prayerful and humble sick Canaanite woman. To start with, the woman in the Gospel is so faithful. She is patient. She is gifted with persistence in prayer. Jesus does not care whether she is from south or east, north or west, white or black. All that he knows is that she is a faithful child of God! She cherishes her gifts. She is healed. She recognizes God as the source of prosperity and the giver of all gifts, and the healer of healers! Any of us could be this woman.  Do we pray consistently? Do we cherish our faith and gifts? Are we patient enough? Are we open to one another, and to the flow of the Holy Spirit?

We know there are problems everywhere today; violent and challenges of life, wars and threat of wars, illnesses and threats of illnesses- and even the loss of our loved ones. In every circumstances of our life it is important to recognize that our very being is a gift from God, including the  gift of the Church. We are called to be tolerant, receptive, loving, merciful and welcoming to one another. Our Church is a house of prayer.  It is a house of faith, a symbol of oneness, justice, humility and gratitude to God. It is house of love and temple of divine mercy for all, Jew or Gentile or Canaanite!