Friday, January 30, 2015

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


 


Homily (2) Fourth Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Deut 18:15-20; Ps 95:1-2, 6-9; 1 Cor 7:32-35 and Mk 1:21-28

 A True prophet is “a Prophet Like” Moses

There is a book in my Library, Great Speeches of our times, by Hywel Williams. This book contains speeches of Politicians and Human Rights Activists such as; Eamon de Valera, Eleanor Roosevelt, J. F. Kennedy , and Charles de Gaulle; Martin Luther King, Jr , Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Ronald Reagan, Jesse Jackson, Margaret Thatcher, Mikhail Gorbachev, Fidel Castro (Jan 1, 1999), Tony Blair  and  Barack Obama,-- our current president…

Speeches of the prophets, theologians and spiritual authors of our times, are not mentioned. The Bible readings of today, beginning with the first reading (Deut 18:15-20) reminds us these omitted speeches; the prophetic and reflective speeches of Moses; and Israel’s prophets (major and minor), their lives, their duties, their ministries, and the need for us to imitate them.

The prophet is one of us, a member of the community, a friend, chosen by the Lord to speak in the name of God (Deut 18:15). A true prophet is the mouth piece of God and a divine messenger.  A true prophet preaches with divine and moral authority, about God, not about him or herself. A true prophet is the conscience of the people.  A true prophet is not selfish, but sensitive to the evil and opt for the poor, the widow, the oppressed and those in the margins of society.   A true prophet cherishes the highest good and lives the truth with love, faith and hope for the divine blessings.

In matters of faith the true prophet is not a coward. He challenges every unjust status quo and seeks for a just and peaceful alternative. True prophets offer symbols and hope that are adequate to confront the horror and massiveness of the experience that evokes indifference. The prophet is the one who brings to public expression those very fears and terrors that have been denied so long and suppressed so deeply that we do know they are there. The prophet speaks metaphorically but concretely the truth of everyday life, that hovers over us. The prophet speaks neither in rage, nor with cheap grace, but with the candor born of anguish, passion, sympathy, empathy and compassion. In doing this the prophet free people from all types of slaveries, especially modern slaveries, and sins, mentioned by Father, Pope Francis in his 2015 New Year Message. Authentic prophets bring people, men, women and children to God.

The biblical Moses, of the Exodus, is an example of a true prophet. Though he suffered, he endured.  He challenged Pharaoh, and dismantled the politics of oppression and exploitation, by countering it with a politics of justice, true freedom, compassion and humanitarianism. Let my people go! Moses is a paradigm of all prophets. Speaking today in the first reading, he says, “The Lord will raise a Prophet like Me from among your kindred, to him you shall listen” (Deut 18:19-20). This prophet would come to be Christ.

 But, in every nations, lands, villages, communities, times and places, even here in our Seminary Community, God is always raising prophets to speak to us in his name. Think of our parents, our Church Leaders, Popes, Saints, our teachers, professors, spiritual directors, the staff, spouses, and good friends, students, fellow parishioners around us, and models of Christian virtues. Through these “prophets” we become better people each day, and strive to do the will of God!

In the second reading (1 Cor 7:32-35), Paul was also prophetic to the Corinthian community. Like Moses, Paul challenges the common but wrong practices of his time: factions, rivalries, abuse of marriages and our sexualities. Paul offers an alternative. If you are married, good! If you are unmarried, like him, good, be faithful to your vows of celibacy, for the sake of the kingdom of God.


Christ, in the Gospel (Mark 1:21–28), no doubt, is the prophet par excellence! And his prophecy is the norm for our lives. His birth challenges Herod and the powers that be! He introduces a new prophecy. He dismantles the proud and raises the lowly. He reaches to the poor, the Samaritan woman, the “Matthews,” the “tax collectors”, the “Mary Magdalene”, the “Zacchaeus”, the “Lazarus”, the “lepers” and the blinds, forbidden in the past.

Today he shocks the Pharisees and everybody in the synagogue of Capernaum, by preaching, healing, and liberating authoritatively on the Sabbath (Mark 1:21ff), against the status quo. For the status quo, the Sabbath was the sacred sign of social settlement. For Christ, the new Moses, the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. For Christ, the Sabbath must be a Sabbath for love, a Sabbath for healing, exorcisms, peace and forgiveness.

Jesus’ prophetic ministry is that of freedom from falsehood, deceit, false gods, intimidation, exploitation, immoralities, and deceitful practices. The ministry of Christ, the new Moses, also entails, unity, faith and hope. It requires empathy, sympathy, compassion and justice. Therefore, Christ invites us today, wherever we are located, to participate in his prophetic ministry, beyond the shore of Galilee, in our homes, offices, class rooms, parishes, dioceses, to the ends of the earth, and to our innermost selves.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Homily (2) 3rd Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo


Homily (2) 3rd Sunday of Year B: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
Readings: Jonah 3:1-5, 10; Ps 25:4-9; 1 Cor 7:29-31; Mark 1:14-20

A Merciful and Selfless God, Slow to Anger, abounding in Love!

Today we live in the 21st century, standing on our faith traditions. But when we open our Bibles; when we read our Scriptures, especially the Four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we learn so much about God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, whom we are daily called to imitate. He is holy, generous, merciful, slow to anger and kind. We learn so much about Christ who once changed water into wine, healed the blinds, dialogued with the Samaritan woman, raised Lazarus from the tomb, ate with tax collectors, and encouraged Zacchaeus to come down from the tree, whom he later went to din with. He loved on the road to Calvary and forgave sinners on the Cross. He is selfless, humble and reaches out to everyone. He is persistence in calling us to himself, regardless of our "narrow nationalism," gender, language and culture, or which part of the continent, we may come from. Today’s readings seem to point towards the same direction.

In today’s Gospel, the selfless Christ knew a time would come when he would be “handed-over” he quickly initiated the calls of his disciples, beginning with Peter, Andrew, James and John, who were originally fishermen. Thank God, they left everything to follow Jesus, including their net, boats, parents, family and workers. They became fishers of men. What does this mean? Then became champions of God’s love, preachers and promoters of justice, unity, sources of divine mercy, and agents  of true evangelization, viceroys and conduits of the inclusive  of the message of God’s love.

This was something that was lacking in the Corinthian community that Paul was preaching to, in the 2nd reading. Selfishness, rivalries, abuse of marriages, sexualities, and overt worldliness perverted this community. Some of them forgot that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. Many could not realize on time that everything is this world, our talents, our homes, money, power, wealth, our physical bodies our temporary and transitory.  We better make good and timely use of them, for the common good; for the glory of God, for the service of the community, and the entire church.

Jonah, in the first reading, also felt into the same trap of selfishness about God’s love, mercy and blessings. He is called by God to bring God’s message of love and forgiveness to enemy- folks in the far- East of Nineveh, in Assyria. Unlike Peter, Andrew, James and John, in the Gospel, Jonah resisted, and sailed the opposite direction, as far West as he can to Tarshish, I guess, to the direction of the present day Spain. In spite of Jonah’s reluctance, God has a way of insisting on his love and callings. No matter what, he keeps calling us. And perhaps, reminding us that, his divine thoughts, are not our human thoughts.

Granted that Jonah had problems on the way: shipped wrecked, swallowed by a big fish, tormented by nasty weather, he would eventually, by the grace of God, carry out God’s mission  of preaching repentance to the Assyrians, non-Jews and the Gentiles, as Paul did in Corinth.  

As funny and satirical as Jonah’s story may sound, together with the rest of today’s readings, it offers us a spiritual mirror to see ourselves as God’s instruments. God has called us to various missions which we must do selflessly, with all our talents, energies and enthusiasms. This story also offers us a mirror to see ourselves, how we still are, sometimes today in this 21st century: petty, intolerant to others, selfish and jealous to our neighbors, in many ways. And sometimes unwilling to let go, unwilling to admit that God’s love and mercy extends to all persons of every land and nations, Jews and Gentiles, gender and culture.

Therefore, If God is merciful, selfless, initiates all calls,  kind, forgiving, and compassionate, he wants us in our various states of life, offices and positions to  be forgiving, and merciful to those, who may have offended  or hurt us, and be loving to all those we meet on the way!

 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Homily (2) 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B: Fr. Udoekpo, Michael


Homily (2) 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time Year B: Fr. Udoekpo, Michael
Readings: 1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19; Ps 40:2, 4, 7-10; 1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20 and John 1:35-42

Listening to the Lord who Calls Us

 Today we live in a very noisy and pluralistic society.  Noise from fireworks, violence, religious extremisms, alarms, sirens, loud music, trumpets, car horns, sports whistles, cell phones, Tvs, Radios, gun fires, bomb blasts, thunders and wild winds, baby cries, sounds from animals and birds etc., plus people yelling/shouting at each other, wars and threats of wars, such that listening or paying attention in our various locations of life, is becoming increasingly important today, especially in matters that has to do with our relationship with God, who calls us reveals himself to us in different forms, especially in the poor, the rich, men, women and children.

In the readings, especially in the first reading (1 Samuel 3:3b-10, 19), and in the Gospel (John 1:35-42), the familiar call stories of Samuel and that of the Disciples of Christ: Andrew, Peter, etc., are presented, respectively. Each of these stories though delights of many preachers, are meant to remind us, among other things, that even though God initiates calling us to different stages of life, he expects us to respond with love and devotion. But, we cannot respond to what we have not heard. And how can we hear unless we listen, unless we remain focus, and resist those distractions!

In the first reading, Samuel is called do what many of Israel’s judges and the sons of Eli had failed to do. To carry the banner of love and keep the torch of the covenant-promise which the Lord had established with the house Israel. As a prophet Samuel would anoint the initial Kings of Israel. In hearing God’s voice he not only took counsel from Eli, but carefully and obedient responded, on the 3rd instance, as instructed, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” This might have well reminds us of Deuteronomy 4 , where Israel as a whole is called to listen, shamah Yisrael, but Samuel’s response, with a participle expression “listening” ([mv) adds to the force of his readiness and docility, also found in the voice of today’s psalmist, “here I am Lord I come to do your will” (Ps 40), and of our mother Mary, “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me as you will” ( Luke 1:38), heard during Christmas!

Recognizing Jesus in the Gospel account, John the Baptist said, “Behold the lamb of God” (John 1, 29, 35-42), as we do at every Mass. Interestingly, “the two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus.” As Disciples of Christ God has called each of us in different ways, vocations and states of life: priests, religious, laity, celibate and in marriage. Many are also blessed in various areas of industries, socio-political and economic powers. In these callings, they are equally called to love, share their blessings with others, especially with the poor, the sick, the aged, the voiceless, immigrants, and the marginalized of the society.

 Not being indifferent to the plight of the poor is form of listening to what God expects of us today, which Pope Francis has also expressed in his recent teachings, particularly in his New Year message of Peace, “that we are no Longer slaves, but brothers and sister.” Our calling and how we respond to Christ must be inviting to others, women, men, children, the poor and the needy.

Let us pray that, in spite of the “noise,” the “distractions,” the “pluralism of ideologies,” the “sirens” that blow in all forms, we may like Samuel and the initial disciples of Jesus, of today’s Gospel, listen to his divine calling, and be ready to follow the “Lamb of God,” or say, in our lives and actions, “speak, Lord your servant is listening”!

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Homily (4) Baptism of the Lord Year B: Fr. Michael Udoekpo


Homily (4) Baptism of the Lord Year B: Fr. Michael Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 42:1-4, 6-7; Ps 29:1-4, 3, 9-10; Acts 10:34-38 (Alternative Readings for YB): Isa 55:1-11; Isa 12:2-3, 4bcd-6; 1 John 5:1-9 and Mark 1:7-11

 Come to the Waters; listen, that you may have life!
 Come to the waters, fetch it, all you who are thirsty that you may have life! This Prophecy of Isaiah 55, rhymes with the rest of today’s Scripture readings, and with the spirit of our celebration, the Baptism of Christ. It also gives meaning to our Christian baptism. Baptism gives foundation to our faith. Baptism washes away our sins, gives us the power, the freedom, the liberty to reject and renounce Satan.  With it “we are no longer slaves, but brothers and sisters,” as rightly articulated by Pope Francis in his 2015 new year Message. Baptism gives us that faith, the hope, and the grace to choose to do good and to avoid evil. With it we learn to love, bridge barriers, heal divisions, and are humbled. We learn to forgive, endure, and learn to tolerate others, the poor, the rich alike. It initiates us into the Christian life. We become soldiers of Christ and the light of the world. Think of the sacramental elements used during baptism, light, oils, candles, water, white linens, and even the feast after that, etc. With it we are born again in Christ, in the Spirit, and become God’s beloved adopted sons and daughters, “unless you are born again you cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3-5).

In today’s Gospel Jesus is baptized by John in the Jordan River. Coming up from the water, he sees the heavens open and the Holy Spirit in form of a dove descending upon him. He also hears a voice form heaven saying, “You are my beloved son; with whom I am well pleased,” (Mk 1:7-11). Are we listening? What are we seeing in the baptism of Christ! What are we hearing from today’s Bible readings? Or from today’s celebration!

Partly, perhaps, it is that Christ, a beloved son of God, sinless, submitted himself through the symbolic ritual of baptism not only in anticipation of his suffering, trials, death and resurrection, but to teach humanity humility as a requirement for a “life in Christ.” In his sermon Saint Augustine says, Christ, “desired to be baptized, so that he might freely proclaim through his humility what for us was to be a necessity’ (cf. Sermon 51, 33).

Isn’t this necessity pictured in the metaphorical banquet foretold by Isaiah in today’s first reading (Isa 55:1-11): “all you who are thirsty, come to the water? You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat; come without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk! Why spend your money… Listen that you may have life! I will renew with you the everlasting covenant, the benefits assured to David.”

 The Baptism of the Lord invites us to come and share in the heritage of the servant of the Lord (40-55): the waters of justice, freedom, peace, the heritage of selflessness, the spirit of the common good, the heritage to love the poor, the spirit of inclusivism, the spirit to love and be faithful to the Church, the spirit to renounce sins, and the spirit to always love and pray for one another, especially those who are spiritually, morally and materially thirsty, or once exiled from the truth and the love of God, or had experienced difficulties in the past. Listening, changing hearts, seeking the Lord or willingness to come to this banquet are required of us, especially in a world full of other noises and distractions. In Christ’s banquet, in the Church, pardon, mercy, and love of God are available (Isa 55:6-7).

On the day of our Baptism each of us are brought into God’s house without material cost, but guided by the Spirit of God, without force!  It is a free renewal! No money is required for this banquet! Eat as you can! The wine and milk are free as promised Abraham and his descendants! Those promises are fulfilled in baptism! Only bring yourself!  Only listen and profess the Lord! Come into the gate of life! The love of God is free, the forgiveness of sin and the resurrection of the dead! In baptism we die with Christ. In baptism we rise with Christ!

In Baptism we receive God’s grace, love and faith. Johns speaks of this faith in the second reading:  “everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God, and everyone who loves the Father loves also the one begotten by him….whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith in Christ, who came through water and blood” (1 John 5:1-9).

As we celebrate the feast Christ's  baptism today, may we contemplate the meaning of our Christian baptism. May we, in our changing world of today, plagued with religious extremism, division, poverty of food, and even drinking waters;  terrorism and threats of war, diseases without immediate cure, continue to cherish our faith, gifts of been pardoned and loved by God as his beloved sons and daughters. And may we like our brother Christ, through the grace of our baptism be sources and conduits of life, peace, waters of spiritual refreshment, humility, attentive to the faith, obedience to God’s will, endurance, light of  hope, white garment of joy, happiness and loving service for one another.

Come to the Waters, Listen that You May Have Life!

 




Homily (alternate 4): The Baptism of the Lord, Year B:  Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 55:1-11; Ps Isa 12:2-3, 4bcd, 5-6; 1 Jn 5:1-9 and  Mark 1:7-11


 Baptism, a new Life in Christ


Today we celebrate the Baptism of Christ which reminds us of our Baptism. We celebrate our newness in Christ. I still remember that basic meaning of Baptism taught to me as I grew up. I was told that Baptism is Sacrament which cleanses us from sins, makes us Christians, children of God, and members of the Church.
I think this makes sense not only in the light of the Scripture readings of today where the post- exilic community of Israel are promised the gifts of new life of freedom and prosperity (Isa 40–55), fulfilled in the mission of Christ (Mark 1:7-11, Mtt 3:13-17, Lk 3:15-22; Jn 1:19-34).


Even when we think of the ritual of baptism it is refreshing.  The oil; the white garment, the candles, the salts and the Water. Prophet Isaiah says today “Come to the waters, listen, that you may have life.”  The responsorial psalm from Isaiah 12 also says, “You will draw water joyfully from the springs of salvation.” Even though water (~ym) cleanses our personal faults and spiritual impurities, water has always been a symbol of life that goes back to the beginning of creation in Genesis chapter 1.
Jesus in his interaction with Nichodemus insists that unless he is born of water and the Holy Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God (Jn3:5ff).  In Baptism we are renewed in Christ. We are given a share in the supernatural life of God, the hope, the faith and the Love of God.


In today’s Gospel, Jesus by coming from Nazareth to be baptized today is not meant to show that he was a sinner. Rather Christ is identifying himself with us like the post-exilic Suffering Servant  in  the Prophet Isaiah . When Isaiah says, “All you who are thirsty, come to the water.” He is addressing those who had been suffering in exile without water and means of livelihood.
When he says, “you who have no money, come, receive grain and eat… for just as from heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there, till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the ones who sows and bread to the one who eats..” he is restoring the hope of life to those who were denied “life’ in exile. And Jesus for Mark and for us Christians is not only the fulfillment of what we had been promised, but the source of this life, which we all share when we die with him in Baptism. He is mightier and stronger than John and any other power, be it satanic and worldly (Mk 1:7).

Remember, soon after the Baptism of Jesus, and on coming out  from the water, there is a voice confirming Him to be God’s  beloved Son,  after which Jesus is led into the desert  of  wilderness of no water and food to be tempted by the satan (Mk 1:11-14). Just as our forefathers in faith narrated by the prophets resisted, and survived the pains, the agony the dryness of the desert experience and live to see the return to the promise land of milk and livelihood, we are all challenged to travel this road of faith and resilience against worldly powers and temptations. And this is the path of faith, the ambivalence of the wilderness that we all become initiated into during our baptism.
Christ whose baptism we celebrate today would be rejected. Being the Suffering Servant he would bear our pains and wounds. He would preach hope and love, justice, truth and forgiveness. He would resist temptation and demonic powers. As a beloved Son he will act always in obedience to the Father, doing the Father’s will. He would be the Light of the world and the Salt of the earth. By our Baptism, this is who each and every one of us is called to be.

 Let us pray at this Mass that as another Christ, the Baptism of Christ we share in, may remain a source of strength for us as we face the day to day challenges of our Christian living.

 
 


 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Homily (3) the Epiphany of the Lord: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo


Homily (3) the Epiphany of the Lord: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: Isa 60:1-6; Ps 72:1-2,7-8,10-13; Eph 3:2-3a,5-6 and Matt 2:1-12

Let Every Nation on earth Adore You O Lord!

The responsorial Psalm “Lord, every nation on earth will adore you Lord” captures the essence of what we celebrate today, the Epiphany of our Lord. Every Solemnity of the Epiphany brings us together “to adore the Lord,” and make him known to the whole world. Truly, our God freely and willingly manifested himself to us in Christ,  deserves adoration and our worship. He is the word that became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). This Word must be shared with our neighbors.

Saint Paul bore witness to this Word in his missionary journeys to the Gentile nations as noted in the 2nd reading. Paul says, to the church in Ephesus “you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for your benefits…. That the Gentiles are coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the Gospel” (Eph 3:2-3a, 5-6).

 Paul’s message was long foretold by the prophet Isaiah in the first reading, “Rise up in splendor, Jerusalem! Your Light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See darkness covers the earth, and the thick cloud covers the peoples, but upon you the Lord shines, and over you appear his glory. Nations shall walk by light and kings by your shining radiance… bearing gold and frankincense, and proclaiming the praises of the Lord” (Isa 60:1-6).

Christ's Birth is an entrance of Light into the world of darkness. It is an entrance of Light and Divine Strength into our human weaknesses, selfishness, self- centeredness, and sufferings. It is a manifestation, of divine goodness into our lives. It is an epiphany of God's love, his Mercy, his Tender Care and Kindness to all nations and continents, Jews and Gentiles, poor and rich, queens and kings.

Epiphany is a manifestation of God to our children, to mummy and daddy, to husbands and wives, seminarians and priests, to friends, partners, politicians, poets, colleagues and peers. It is a feast when Jesus, who we celebrated at Christmas, is made known to the whole world, to every continent and nations: Lord, every nation on earth shall adore you” (Ps 72).

 Epiphany is a gathering of every nation to adore Christ. This is true even when you look at our faces, our colors, and our eyes, particularly our last names. I was recently in Africa and Europe the joy was the same at Christmas, every nation adoring the Lord- the power of faith- only Christ can gather us together at birth and at death. What a miracle of faith.

At his birth, manifestation many reacted: the angels, who sang, “glory to God in the highest,” the shepherds who traveled to the manger in Bethlehem to visit with the holy family, Simeon, the prophet sang the nunc dimittis, while Anna, the prophetess saw the uniqueness in Christ and spoke about this special child to everyone(Luke 2). What is your reaction to the story of Christmas, to the Christmas plays we watched, to Christmas carols and music we have listened to, to all the Christmas homilies we have heard from the lips of the Pope, bishops, different priests and pastors? Do you like Anna internalize it or be ready to go out a manifest this love to others, the poor and the rich? Or do you keep it to yourself?
 In today’s Gospel (Matt 1:1-12) the magi join in this chain of reaction. Guided by the star, they came all the way from the East, from abroad outside Bethlehem/Judea, to adore Christ, to worship Christ (proskunh/), to submit themselves to Christ. They brought him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh and foretold by Isaiah the first reading.

Every nation adores the Lord, including those who studied the stars. God can speak to us. He can manifest Himself to us through our various professions and occupations. All that he requires of us are (the gifts of) disposition, willingness, openness and readiness, irrespective of our profession. You can be an attorney, a nurse, a doctor, a secretary, a receptionist, a broker, a plumber, a factory worker, a church volunteer, a student, employed or unemployed, a trader, wine maker/tapper, a bank teller, a football coach, a husband, housewife, a Jew or Gentile with deep faith.

We can learn from the Gentiles the Magi. Their journeys I believe were not rosy-rosy. Mostly likely there were some difficulties on the way. They must have left their homes, children and family members searching for Christ in a territory where Herod was appointed the king of the Jews by the Roman imperialism. I am sure being learned scientists they were not na├»ve, they knew, humanly it would be risky facing Herod, the reigning earthly king, when at the same time searching to adore the heavenly King, the true “King of the Jews,” and “the King of kings.” Being a faithful Christian in this New Year and at the same time a good citizen is not always easy. Being a good Christian and a good politician or a good member of the United Nations was never going to be without faith. These things are possible when we walk with deep faith, when we listen to the impulses of the Holy Spirit, when we follow the light of Christ not our own will, as the magi did and as prophesied long ago by the Prophet Isaiah “nations shall walk by your light.”

 Nations of professionals including the magi from Sheba shall submit (proskunh/) themselves to Jesus and worship him. The precious gifts the brought Christ from the East- gold, frankincense and myrrh are significant.    Gold recalls the royalty of Christ which lies in his mission of justice, peace, love, forgiveness and holiness of life- Not bullying, revenge and terrorism. In Frankincense we recall the perfume and the incense we use during worship- which is a symbol of hope and faith that we all place in Jesus our Messiah.

 In another place, Paul speaks of this in 2 Corinthian 2:15. St.  Paul invites us to bring out that noble “aroma of Christ” among ourselves: peace, love, forgiveness, universalism, inclusiveness, friendship and acts of charity.  In Myrrh we recall the sufferings, the pains and passion of Christ (Mark 15:20-23; Matt 27:33-44). And it was with Myrrh in John 19:39 that Nichodemus anointed Christ’s body for burial.

 Epiphany is a celebration of our faith from the strength of our jobs, vocations and occupations. Many with various occupations gathered here have that faith. Many with various professions are still searching for that faith. Like in the case of the Magi sometimes the journey may be long and rough. In the case of the Shepherds they risked abandoning their flocks and rushing to see the Christ born at the manger in Bethlehem. Simeon and Anna did not mind their old age. They faithfully and passionate sang and spoke about the blessings brought to Israel by the redeemer- Christ.

For us when we finally find that faith we are call to share it with others. This is not a time for “globalization of indifference” mentioned by Pope Francis in his 2015 New Year Message. But a time to globalize the light/love of Christ to others. We are invited to share with and manifest the message of Christmas for our friends, relatives and in our communities. We are called to manifest that faith, to spread that aroma of Christ, that golden peace, that inclusiveness, that joy, that charity, that forgiveness, those gifts, among others, among every nation. Lord every nation on earth will adore you!