Friday, December 19, 2014

Homily (2) Fourth Sunday of Advent Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo


Homily (2) Fourth Sunday of Advent Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-5,8b-12, 14a,16; Ps 89:2-5, 27, 29; Rom 16:25-27 and Luke 1:26-38

    What God Has Promised Us would be fulfilled!

 Today Marks the fourth and the final week of Advent before Christmas. The Spirit of these four weeks of preparing for Christmas is a spirit of expectation and great hope in God’s promises. What God promised us: protection, love, peace,  security, joy, good health of mind and body, success in what we do, everlasting covenant, and eternal happiness, would be fulfilled.  This is true in today’s Bible Lessons, especially in the stories of David, and those of Our Mother Mary. They are great stories for life’s lessons.

 In  the first reading (2 Sam 7), David the great, great grandfather of Jesus, after he had fought and consolidated power in Jerusalem, had wanted to build a house for the Lord, where he could place the Ark of the Covenant, a physical divine presence in the community. David went to bed. But that night, as God would do his things mysteriously, he reverses David’ plan through Nathan, the prophet. God would rather build a house for David. He promised David, an everlasting dynasty. Note, an everlasting dynasty here, is much more than a physical house.

It is an everlasting promise of love, kindness, peace, joy, goodness, good-health of mind and body, faithfulness, acknowledged in the responsorial of today; “forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord… the promise of the lord I will sing forever”!

 In the 2nd reading, Romans 16 Saint Paul testifies to the fulfillment of this promise in the person of Christ, whose Gospel he preaches. Paul says, “to him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages, but now manifested through the prophetic writings, and according to the command of eternal God..” (Rom 16:25-27).

 The Gospel makes it clearer that those promises made us in the beginning through David would be fulfilled, through Mary!  A young Jewish woman, betrothed to Joseph, still a virgin, is miraculously visited by the Angel Gabriel, who promised her a child: “behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus” Mary said how can this be since I am still a virgin. The Angel explains to her that “God is control,” the story we are familiar with.  At the end of her encounter with the  Angel, Mary humbly surrenders herself  to the divine providence, saying, “I am the Handmaid of the Lord (your servant) be it done to be according to your word.”

 Granted that the spirit of Advent reminds us of the need to be close to Mary during this time when she is carrying her child, Jesus; Mary, like David is a good example to us in many ways; especially to us today, who have heard this stories over and over again. She is an example of an ideal disciple.  We can think of our Christian life as a longer Advent. Mary is a disciple, willing to love, willing to forgive, willing to serve.  She is a gift to us. She becomes that simple vehicle through which historic royal theology and God’s mysteries and promises are fulfilled in Christ, come Christmas.

 She listens and accepts the message of the Angel Gabriel sent by God. She dialogues freely with Gabriel. She is not violent. She is not argumentative, but ponders. She is reflective. She is not arrogant. She does not claim to know more than God and the Angel. She is opened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, over the mysteries of the one who will rule over the house of David. Even though David had plans to build a house for the Lord, eventually built by his son, Solomon, David lived through the mysteries of God communicated to him through Nathan!

 David, and especially Mary, I believe are great examples of how we can, in our different life-situations, respond to God’s mysteries and divine command.  David was attentive to Prophet Nathan. He gave up his plan of building a physical house. Mary on the other hand responded with complete humility, trust and faith in whatever God had in stock for her. How we respond to Scriptures, what the Church teaches, our parents, teachers and God-fearing leaders, counts.

 Our Christian life, sometimes could be seen as a longer Advent, hoping and trusting, all the way, in the promises made to  us by the Lord. Even though have our own plans, Advent allows us to follow God's final plan. Therefore, as Christmas approaches, we are invited to imitate Mary’s gifts, and renew our trust in the Lord. We are invited to contemplate the virtues of Mary, her dialogue and reactions to Angel Gabriel. We  are encouraged to  make our homes, churches, dioceses,  schools, seminaries, religious communities, offices, places of work “Schools of Mary” and “Colleges of Virtues”, where we  sing God’s promises, and trust  at all times in the love, joy, security, and peace which the Lord had promised  us, in the beginning, since the time of David.

 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Homily (2) Third Sunday of Advent Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo


Homily (2) Third Sunday of Advent Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Reading: Isaiah 61: 1-2a, 10-11; Ps /Luke 1:46-50, 53-54; 1 Thes 5:16-24 and John 1:6-8, 19-28.

Expecting the Lord with Joy!

When we expect an important guest or an appointment, there is always that natural tendency or social protocol, to call back and forth in order to confirm the arrival of our guest or confirm our appointments.  When our guest finally arrives or appointment successfully met it brings us joy and happiness. Advent, from Week 1 continues to communicate these elements of hope, expectation, joy and happiness. The joyful mysteries!

 Saint Paul puts it well in today’s second reading. He says, “Rejoice always! Pray without ceasing. Give thanks to God in every circumstances.” Even though this is Advent, we must make it a joyful and a prayerful Advent. What brings us joy and happiness during Advent is the fact that Our Lord is near; the birth of our Savior is at hand. He comes to free us. He comes to forgive us. He comes to liberate us. He comes to bless us. He comes with peace and justice lacking in the world and in our families today. This is emphasis over and over again in today’s bible readings, particularly through the examples of the prophet Isaiah, Saint Paul and his Community, John the Baptist and of course, our Blessed Virgin Mary.

Today’s first reading “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners, to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God….” (Isa 61:1-2a)”, often cited by Luke 4:18-21 as the inaugural address of Jesus, gives us joy. It reminds us of the sending of the prophet, the role of the prophets, in this case 3rd Isaiah, the conscience of the people, the defender of the defenseless, protector of the poor, and precursor/source/channel/conduit of joy to the people!

Our mother Mary sings the joy that the birth of her son, Our Lord brings at Christmas, through the Magnificat (Luke 1:46–48, 49–50, 53–54) which as our responsorial psalm today. Think of what Mary had to go through from her immaculate conception, betrothed to Joseph, her mysterious encounter with the Lord, through the Angel Gabriel. Although there were moment of sorrowful mysteries in Mary’s life, today Mary prays the joyful mysteries because of the nearness of the Lord. That which was told her, as poor and lowly as she was, has been fulfilled. She became the mother of our Savior. To have Christ is to have joy, unhappiness sets in when we lose Christ. Mary through the joyful mysteries is an example one who possess Christ through listening obedience to the will of God, love of one’s neighbor, purity of mind and body, poverty of the spirit and humility to serve others, as she visited her cousin Elizabeth who was also pregnant with John the Baptist.  At Mary’s visit, John the Baptist who was few months older than Jesus, imitated the mother, Elizabeth joyfully honoring Mary and her son, Jesus. Recalled, John the Baptist leapt in her mother’s womb when Mary visited her.

In the Gospel of John, the same  leaping John the Baptist insist joyfully in that humility. He baptizes with water, but the one coming after him at Christmas, namely Our Savior will baptize with the Holy Spirit. John is not even worthy to untie the strap Jesus’ sandals. What a humility! Unless we forget ourselves and not so much be consumed in our ego, we will not be able to know and serve and have Christ who is the true source of joy and happiness! Advent, especially in a today’s world of isolationism, is a time we reach out to our neighbors, support one another, pray for one another, and bear one another’s burden.

 Advent is time we rejoice and try to be a source of joy to one another. It is a time we strive to imitate Israel’s prophets, the missionary zeal of Paul, John the Baptist, and importantly our mother Mary who knew how to expect her baby Jesus with joy, and who expresses that joy in the joyful mysteries, and at the birth of her son. As we joyfully expect Christ at Christmas, may we daily pray the joyful mysteries(the annunciation, the visitation, the nativity, the presentation and the finding of Jesus in the temple) radiate that joy and happiness in our neighborhood, churches, dioceses, parishes, stations, schools, offices, homes and places of work!

 

 

 

 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Homily(2) 2nd Sunday of Advent Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo


Homily(2) 2nd Sunday of Advent Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isaiah 40: 1-5, 9-11; Ps 85: 9-14; 2 Pet 3:8-14 and Mark 1:1-8

  Faith in God’s Fidelity,

Advent which began last week is a time of preparation for Christmas. It is also a time we renew our faith and hope in  the second coming of Christ. Unlike lent, it is not a time for reflection on Jesus passion and death, but a time  we re-live the message of  hope, optimism,  expectation and call  for preparedness proclaimed by Israel's prophets, from Isaiah to John the Baptist.

 Surely, preparedness for Christmas stands out during Advent. How do we prepare in the midst of all the problems of life- political, social, economic etc? Scripture readings of today suggest ways for Christmas' preparation. The four readings urge us to use our religious imagination and look forward to the future with hope, faith, humility, practice of justice, righteousness, pursuit of peace, and courage no matter the challenges that we encounter daily in life. Watchfulness, alertness and some sense of eagerness and urgency for compassion are also required on every believer’s journey!
 

 In the 586/7 BC the Babylonians military had overrun Jerusalem and destroyed the temple there. Second Isaiah had every reason to “proclaim” this message of hope and comfort to those displaced in exile. Despite all the destruction, disappointments and set-backs around him Isaiah was clearly called to proclaim, or “cry- out” the message of comfort and hope of salvation to his people, hoping to walk the long highway, from Babylon to Jerusalem, the Holy land.  Getting there, Jerusalem shall be rebuilt and the Lord will be like a good shepherd feeding, tendering and caring for his flock in the rebuilt Jerusalem. Even though In Isaiah it is the Lord that leads the way, with care and comfort, Isaiah” calls us to play our part on this long journey. Imagine yourself setting out on a journey, on foot, especially, in those ancient days, with dusty, hilly and rough paths. Naturally, you would naturally need to prepare physically, materially, psychologically and mentally. As a believer you need to prepare spiritually, by trusting in God’s Fidelity, the leader of  our faith journeys!

The Second Reading (2 Peter 3:8-14) builds  on the message of  Isaiah.  As a way of preparing for Christmas, it emphasizes devotion, sense of urgency, justice, righteousness and peace. It says,  “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a mighty roar and the elements will be dissolved by fire,…since everything is to be dissolved in this way….conducting yourselves in holiness and devotion, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of the God,… in which righteousness dwells, and be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace” (2 Pt 3:8–14).

Mark’s Gospel also makes a direct reference to the prophet Isaiah saying, “behold sending my messenger  ahead of you; he will prepare your way, a voice of one crying out in the desert, prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths (Mark 1:3//Isaiah 40:3).

In the case of Mark, John the Baptist is the servant not Isaiah. But what Isaiah announced thousands of years ago is what John the Baptists proclaimed from the desert, during his time. It is the same, but renewed  message of  preparedness for the Lord, through repentance, baptism, conversion, humility, justice and faith in the one mightier than him!

In a pluralistic world of today, with various socio-cultural, and political challenges, including  threats  of war, ISIS, Boko Haram, Ebola, and terrorism, poverty, the gap between the "haves" and the have-nots," there are still many other ways we can prepare for Christmas. But what have been suggested in today's scriptures are achievable  provided we placed our faith and trust in God’s fidelity. Once we become fully convinced of God’s faithfulness, then our lives takes on a new spirit of hope and optimism, as we prepare for Christmas!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Homily (2) 1st Sunday of Advent, Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo


Homily (2) 1st Sunday of Advent, Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7; Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; 1 Cor 1:3-9 and Mark 13:33-37.

The Time /Kairos Belongs to God!

 How often do we not hear people say to one another, “hang-in there, God’s time is the best’? Behind this expression is the human person’s eagerness, anxiety, uncertainty, curiosity, wanting to know the when? The how? The where? The why? And of course, an expression of our total dependence upon God. It expresses hope for deliverance, and hope for so many other things, depending on our needs, or the situation in which we find ourselves.  It also expresses faith, expectation, watchfulness and our trust in God.

In the minds of every Christian, worldwide, Advent is a time we relive this expression “God’s time is the best! It is a time of prayer; a time of expectation, a time we prepare and patiently wait for the coming of Christ, God’s Son, at Christmas; that moment of God’s intervention, becoming like one of us, in order to save us!

The readings of today, each, redefines this time for us in contexts. For all Israel’s prophets, including 3rd Isaiah (Isa 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7) this time was the “Day of the Lord.” That time  when the Lord accompanied them throughout their journeys and exiles. When they were in trouble of slavery, dryness, starvation,  sin or faced challenges in rebuilding the new community, they placed their hope and trust in God, who comes down, and renders heavens to save Israel! Israel's dependence in this God is as a child to a father, or a clay in the potter’s hand.

 In psalm 80, Israel is also prayerful, watchful, and hopeful for that time, that day, in that God who will continue to shepherd Israel, smiles divinely at them, protects them, irrigates and prunes the vine he had planted, no matter what! Each of us, the Christian community is that vine the Lord had planted.

Saint Paul  too believes this. In the second reading, while preaching to despairing Corinthian-Christian community in the early stages of their faith development, affirms,  that hopeful time is the time of our Lord Jesus Christ. The grateful Paul, says to the community;

 “I give thanks to my God always on your account for the grace of God bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, that in him you were enriched in very way, with all discourse and all knowledge, as the testimony to Christ was confirmed among you, so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:3-9).

 In the Gospel, Mark uses Kairos to describe this time of the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, to his eager disciples. It is an important time, an appointed time; a quality time (Mark 1:15); a time of fulfilment;  the day of the Lord, a time nobody knows (Mark 13:33).  This time can only be handled by faith, watchfulness, being alert, loving our neighbors, forgiving those who have offended us and asking those we have offended for forgiveness, as well as offering services of charity to the poor, and the needy! 

  The danger is that, Advent Season and Christmas can come and go without our realizing that “God’s time is the best,” and that God is hidden in every events of our life’s journeys. Like the gatekeeper in the Gospel passage of today (Mark 13:34), the Church invites us during this Advent not to remain chronologically static, or be carried away by the media, the politics of the day, the noise, the violent on our streets, the wars and the threats of war. Or even by our own weaknesses and sins, thinking that they are beyond repairs. Our relationship with God can always be repaired, so also the broken relationship with our neighbors.

Sometimes Christians are also despaired because of the social, political and religious situations they find themselves. Some are poor, some are sick, some have lost their loved ones recently, while some are affected by Ebola/HIV epidemics, with health insurances, some are  plagued with  religious fundamentalisms/ extremisms, injustices, discrimination, racism, and terrible natural disasters.

In all these, Advent invites us to hope and trust in God’s time, that moment of divine intervention, symbolized in the joys of Christmas!

 

 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Homily (2) the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King Year A: Fr. Michael Udoekpo


Homily (2) the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King Year A: Fr. Michael Udoekpo
Readings: Ezek 34:11-2, 15-17; Ps 23:1-6; 1 Cor 15:20-26, 28 and Matt 25:31-46.

Christ: Model for kings and leaders
Today we celebrate the feast of Christ the King, which marks the end of the Liturgical season.  The importance of today’s celebration cannot be overemphasized. It serves to remind us a few essentials. First, that the God who created us is the sovereign of all creation, human, animals, seas, plant, mountains, and nations, name them! He is all and all, alpha and the Omega! The source of our lasting hope!  Second, Christ Jesus is God’s incarnate, the son of God, and the King of the Universe. Third, earthly leaders, kings, parents, family heads, heads of governments, bosses in factories and institutions, representatives at the United Nations, in their different roles, in history, that stretches back  to the monarchical history of Israel (if we want) are called to be viceroys and imitators of Christ, in his love, kindness, leadership, care, mercy, justice, and righteousness.  

In Israel’s history, apart from David, Hezekiah and Josiah most of the kings were completely out of touch with God’s expectations: obedient, fair, selfless, holy, wise, peaceful, prayerful, hopeful, compassionate, faithful, steadfast, courageous, prudent, sensitive, and covenant oriented, qualities that may be necessary for our leaders today!

The Prophet Ezekiel, in the first reading (Eze 34:11-2,15-17), reminds us that like the Israelites in exile, when we feel disappointed by our leaders or in our leadership roles,  we should draw strength from God, who acts, loves  us  as  a good shepherd loves his flock. God also tends us as a shepherd tends his flock. God rescues us as a shepherd rescues a loss sheep. He brings us back when we are astray from his paths of love and kindness. God heals us when we are sick, just as a shepherd binds the wounds of his wounded flocks. He guides us in the right paths (ps 23), of hope and kindness.

Similarly, Saint Paul while addressing the Corinthians, stresses these hope and trust in the leadership of God when he preaches, “When everything is subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all (1 Cor 15:20–26, 28).

 In the Gospel (Matt 25:31–46), the qualities of Christ, the Good shepherd are also in display. He judges with love and prudence. He separates the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the weed. The good shepherd, depending on your area of service, emphasizes what matters, namely, community life, relationship, and common good, visiting those in prison, feeding the hungry, assisting the weak, the thirsty, the sick, and clothing the naked.

Today’s scripture speaks to us, who daily witness the rivalry among politicians and leaders of different communities. It addresses those who have fail in  their various capacities as leaders, parents and role models. Sometimes we read  from our daily newspapers of corrupt leaders who embezzle funds, who prefer to feed, heal, bind, cloth themselves than the flock entrusted to their care. Some also promote the denial of God’s existence. By doing these, they tend to behave like  those bad kings of Israel who were out of touch with God, and with the very reasons they were elected into offices.

Whatever, our leadership roles are, be it in our families, churches, schools, institutions, places of work, in the United Nations, and in the society at large, may we continue to trust in Christ the Good Shepherd, and rely upon his love and exemplary Kingship!

 

 

 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Homily (2) Thirty-Third Sunday of the Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo


Homily (2) Thirty-Third Sunday of the Year A: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-31; Ps 128:1-5; 1 Thess 5:1-6 and Matt 25:14-15,19-21.

Blessed Are Those Who Fear the Lord (Ps 128:1a)
Today we celebrate the 33rd Sunday of Year A. The liturgical season, you would notice, is gradually coming to an end. Next weekend will be Thanksgiving (here in the United States).   Soon after that Christmas!  Recently, when we turn on our TVs and our Radios, or pick up the Newspapers, so much is going on in the world, in the church and in our nations. Think of the Pope Francis’ effect in the church, the threats of wars, terrorism, ISIS, Boko Haram, Ebola and the ongoing G20 in Australia, our studies,  weddings,sports, exams, politics,  grieving the lost of our loved ones, works and other personal matters, and anxieties to take care of!

In the midst of all these anxieties, the church invites and exhorts us in the readings of today that “blessed are those, or happy are those, who fear the Lord and walk in his ways. This is as well captured in today’s responsorial (Ps 128:1a).

What is the “fear the Lord,? How do we fear the Lord in the midst of all our daily activities? We can find answers to these questions at a closer reading of today’s Bible lessons. In the first reading of today (Proverbs 31), a classic Wisdom Literature, the listed qualities of the ideal wife, or a Lady Wisdom are all facets of the ‘fear of the Lord.’ The woman in this text, like Ruth, is a trust worthy, holy, perfect, and faithful.  Therefore, the Fear of the Lord is fidelity to God, to our vows and to the teachings of the Church. We fear the Lord by honoring God, and by striving to showcase his attributes.  The woman is merciful, kind, prudent, understanding and just. Her husband and her family depend on her, who is very hard working!  As Pope Francis would recommend, she reaches out to the poor, and extends her hands to the needy!

Saint Paul in the Second reading (1Thess 5:1-6) also reminds the anxious Thessalonian church of another facet of the “fear of the Lord,” namely; preparedness and staying very sober for the day of the Lord. In our daily works, we must not lose hope of God’ judgment and his promise of blessings and reward to those who are faithful him. We are called to be conscious of the hiddenness of God in our midst, his holiness, his transcendence and his immanence, his divine surprises and his mysterious ways of dealing with us!

The fear of the Lord is further defined in Jesus’ gospel parable today (Matt 25:14-30). The fear of the Lord if faithfulness, and fidelity to the Lord the giver of all our gifts, who expects us to make good and responsible use of our talents!

In the gospel, the travelling master, Jesus, distributed gifts to three of his servants, 5, 2 and 1 respectively. The first two servants feared the Lord, traded and multiplied their gifts. 

What did the third servant do with his talent?  He left his given gift hidden in the ground, unproductive.  He went about complaining, blaming others, and criticizing even the master, the distributor of the talent, calling him names- horrible, a hard man!

He lacks the fear of the Lord! He fails to grasp the nature of his responsibility. His action represents not only laziness, arrogance, but also lack of love for the master. It represents a disciple who is trying to play safe, a disciple not ready to bear witness to the gospel at all times, not ready to keep watch for the return of the master. His excuse, ironically, is that he was “afraid”, which is equivalent to faithlessness, lack of readiness and lack of trust in the master, the Lord.  He completely, misunderstood the true meaning of the fear of the Lord.

As we go about our daily activities, heading towards, thanksgiving, and Christmas, or the end of the liturgical season, may we continue to pray, for increase in our genuine awareness of the “fear of the Lord,” which consist in trusting him always, hoping in him always;  humbly and wisely walking in his ways of love, hope, faith, obedience to his precepts, forgiveness, responsible use of our talents, and charity to our neighbors

 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Homily (November 9) - the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica- Fr. Michael Udoekpo


Homily (November 9) - the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica- Fr. Michael Udoekpo
Readings: Ezekiel 47:1-2, 8-9, 12; I Cor 3, 9c-11, 16-17 and John 2:13-22

We Are the Temple, the Place of God’s Glorious House
Today we celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of the Lateran Basilica, originally erected by the Emperor Constantine, consecrated by Pope Saint Sylvester I, as a gift for the Church. This celebration dates back to the Twelve century, and symbolizes the unity of the Church, a paradox of permanence, and a mystery of God’s abiding presence in us. A God who constantly loves us and invites us in mysterious ways to re-dedicate ourselves, families,  and works, to him.

The readings of today, attempt to explain this mystery, that we are God’s house. We are his gifts.  He built us for his living. He expects us to live up to this expectation; to be holy, nice, accommodative, generous, pure, hopeful, resilience, clean in mind and body. That is, be good stewards, after the example of Christ.

Christ, in today’s Gospel, reminds us of this mystery of God’s abiding presence with us. While in Jerusalem, he ran into those who were abusing the temple area, the sacred place, with gambling, perhaps cheating, especially the poor and the weak. He drove them away with a reminder, that God’s house was meant for prayers, healing and forgiveness. He symbolically referred to himself, as the body temple to be destroyed and rebuilt in three days, referring to his death and resurrection.

Similar reference is made by St. Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, in the second reading (1Cor 3:9c-11, 16-17), to the Corinthian Church. This church is  God’s building, so also ourselves. We are called to be holy, tolerant, and welcoming to everyone. We are called not only to see Christ in every person, but as the foundation stone of our community.

Christ and Paul, are aware of ancient biblical traditions. Recall, it was in Jerusalem, that David promised to build God a big and nice house.  In turn, God rather, promised to build David, a more permanent, mysterious, and an everlasting dynasty (2 Samuel 7).  David’s promise was fulfilled by his son Solomon, who completed the temple and dedicated it to the Lord (I kings 1–11). But only to be attacked and destroyed by the enemies.  But how can God let his dwelling place, his house be destroyed?  Or be condemned to death? Why? Was it as a result of the sins of the people, especially of the kings, like Jeroboam or Manasseh? Was the covenant broken? But what about the promise of everlasting dynasty made to David?

As Christ symbolically said, with a deeper implication, ‘destroy this temple, I will rebuilt in three days,” God has a way of dealing with his people. The physical temple might be gone but, Israel’s faith and hope in God lives on.

This is true in exile. Hope has arisen in exile. Ezekiel, the prophet of Exile envisions this hope. He sees an image of life giving stream flowing from the New Jerusalem Temple. From this bountiful stream comes life, food, fruits, and healing.

As a church, as a family, as a community or as an individual, sometimes we experience a temporal defeat, disaster, death, or dryness in our prayer or Christian life. We must not give up. The transformation of this dryness or this barren world in the vision of Ezekiel into a garden of paradise is a dramatization of God’s saving power. In Ezekiel’s prophecy, the stream flows because God’s now dwells in the Temple, his glorious house. We are this temple of the Holy Spirit.

 May the stream of love, hope, faith, forgiveness, freshness, dedication and commitments in our various vocations, holiness of life, generosity, kindness, prosperity, good health of mind and body continue to flow in and around us as we fellowship with God and with one another.