Sunday, February 19, 2012

Homily: Thursday after Ash Wednesday @SHST Community Mass- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Reflection: Thursday after Ash Wednesday at SHST Community's Mass-Fr. Michael Udoekpo

Readings: Deut 30:15-20; Psalm 1:1-6 and Luke 9:22-25

Each year Ash Wednesday, which we marked yesterday, as Day of Recollection, introduces Lent, a spirit-filled liturgical season, with demands for newness of life, and other forms of spiritual choices: choice to listen to the word of God more closely, preach it and live it or not; a choice to intensify our prayer life or not, a choice to live with a renewed zeal our baptismal promises or not; a choice for recon conciliation with our neighbors and God or not and choice to be charitable or not!

These choices are clear in today’s Bible readings. Moses in the first reading reminds this pilgrim  Israel as they journey towards the promise land, what God has done for them from day one: creation, the call of Abraham, what God has done for our patriarchs and matriarchs, those promises, especially the Sinaitic Covenant- an invitation to obey the Lord.

For Moses it was a time for them to renew or make their choices between life and prosperity, death and doom. For Moses the people have the freedom as to keep God’s commandments which come with the divine blessings and inheritance of the Promised Land. Doing otherwise brings curses (Deut 30:15-20).

This same note of Lenten spiritual choice is struck in Psalm One,- Torah Psalm (‘ashere ha-ish asher lo halak beset rashi’im)“Happy are those, or blessed are those (makarios cf. Matt 5 the beatitude) who do not follow the counsel of the advice of the wicked or take the path that sinners tread,…but delights in the law/Torah… and meditates on this Torah day and night.” Look at the metaphorical blessings, or the simile that conveys the blessings, “they will be like trees planted by the streams of water…such trees yield fruits seasonally, they prosper a lot and their leaves do not wither.” Those who chose to do the opposite will perish.

This clear Lenten choice to prosper or to perish is stressed by Jesus the new Moses in the Gospel (Luke 9:22-25). “…any one who wishes to follow Jesus has the choice either to deny or not to deny himself/herself or not. He/she has the choice to take or not to take his/her cross and follow Jesus.” Jesus is very clear. He says, those who keep the Torah, those who loses their lives for Christ’s sake will save it.

Dear friends, in this season of grace let us beckon on God for His Graces to make good Lenten choices, to keep the Torah,  to chose to forgive, to choose to be charitable, to choose to  be prosperous and diligence in our studies and works, be it here the Seminary,  or in our homes and various communities, which may also be a way of carrying our daily crosses to follow Jesus.