Saturday, April 30, 2016

Homily 6th Sunday of Easter Year C: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily 6th Sunday of Easter Year C: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·         Acts15:1-2,22-29
·         Ps 67:2-3,5,6,8
·         Rev 21:10-14,22-23
·         John 14:23-29

Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled
“Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.” These are words of Jesus addressed to his disciples in today’s Gospel John 14:23–29), on this 6th Sunday of Easter. Similar message could be heard both in the 1st and in the 2nd reading as well. Same message was heard over and over again during the papacy of Blessed John Paul II—do not be afraid!

What troubles you? What makes you afraid? Is it your neighbor; high cost of living, our corrupt political system, the question of who wins the next election..,  uncompassionate leaders, the examinations that we need to pass, and the promotions we expect, the strict laws we need to keep, the unforeseeable future in our careers; those sudden departures of our loved ones, insecurity, broken family structures, our broken temples, broken churches, cities, dilapidated infrastructures,   rifts, conflicts, uncertainties, the estranged relationship with our  friends, unpredictable economy or our times or imminent wars, or  is it the rampant terrorisms of our day? Any of this is enough to cause fear in you!
In the case of Jesus and his disciples in this gospel portion- the book of glory, the last supper discourse- it was Jesus’ prediction of his departure to the glorious cross that sent chilling fears into the hearts of his disciples. They must have been wondering where he was going, and what will happen to them socially, economically, religiously and politically.  You see, with fear we can make wrong choices. With fear our heads spin! With fear we can forget the love of God and his teachings. We fear we can forgot those baptism promises. Jesus rather prefers loves. He recommends  love to his disciples saying “whoever loves me keep my word, and my father will love him.” Which words? Those words that Jesus had preached in their company. Those miracles he worked. Those healings he made. Those feet he washed! Those words on the Cross, " Eloi Eloi, Lama Sabathani," ----"Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing!

For the group of the early Church in today’s 1st reading,  Acts of the Apostle 15, the question whether the Gentile Christians should observed the dietary laws or strict Jewish-Mosaic laws was contentious enough to cause fear in the early Christian community. Thanks be to God with the guidance of the Holy Spirit it was decided that it was unnecessary to place the burden of physical circumcision and observance of Mosaic laws on the early Christian. The council of the Jerusalem decided that “the early church should not be troubled, or be afraid of been forced to observed the dietary laws physical circumcision.
It is the image of this New Jerusalem that we see in today’s 2nd reading, Book of Revelation 21 and earlier in the Prophet Ezekiel 47-48. It is a new city of hope and life gleamed with the image and splendor of God- love, mercy, freshness, forgiveness, charity, and inclusiveness. Inclusiveness, in the sense that, it has 12 gates, not one gates, not selected gates, but 12 gates, and the names of the 12 tribes, not one tribe, not some tribes, not selected tribes, not favored tribes or villages and towns, but all the 12 tribes of Israel is inscribed in this new city of Jerusalem, an ecumenical council, the Church. A free wall. A city and a Church that welcomes immigrants, Jews and Gentiles alike!

Therefore, no one, irrespective of your conditions, losses, sins or brokenness, should be afraid to come or aspire for this city—namely the Lamb of God, Christ our merciful and loving Savior, who says to each of us today, “Do not be afraid. Do not let your hearts be troubled.”




Friday, April 22, 2016

Homily [2] 5th Sunday of Easter Year C: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily [2] 5th Sunday of Easter Year C: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
·         Acts 14:21-27;
·         Ps 145:8-13;
·         Rev 21:1-5a
·          John 13:31-33a, 34-35

 Christ, the New Door of faith, hope, mercy and love

When we build new homes or houses we open new doors through which we walk into our rooms. Coming into the church/chapel on this 5th Sunday of Easter we walked or came in through those doors. Our Christian journeys (especially in this Year of Mercy), as priests, religious, lay men and women requires that we walk through the new doors of Christ with faith,  new zeal, hope, mercy and love, emphasized in today’s Bible Lessons.

 In the older dispensation the chosen people had different ways of relating with God expressed not only in the 10 commandments but also in in their holiness code.  But in Christ, the New Moses, this has been summarized in the new commandments of love and service exemplified throughout his mission of healing signs, forgiveness, provision of food for thousands of hungry people, reaching to people of all walks of life (the Samaritan woman), prisoners, sinners, raising the death like Lazarus, and in washing the feet of his disciples (John 13).

 Even to the sufferings, the dying and the oppressed of today’s 2nd reading (Rev 21:1-5a), he assures them the same love. He assures then  new heavens and hopes. Christ will “wipe every tear from their eyes and there shall be no more death, or mourning, wailing of pain, for the old order has passed away.”

 Paul and Barnabas realized this- that Christ is the new order and door of faith, hope, love, and mercy, throughout their missionary journeys. No wonder in in today’s 1st reading (Acts 14:21-27) Barnabas and Paul allow God to use them to open new doors of faith to the Gentiles.

 It is true that we live in a challenging time of materialism, terrorism, acts of revenge and war mongering. Yet the readings of today impress on us to seek new ways of reconciliation, cherishing forgiveness, mercy, hope, service, love of ones’ neighbors, especially the poor and voiceless, through the examples of Christ. Like Paul and Barnabas we are also called or challenged today to seek new ways of inviting our brothers and sisters to embrace or persevere in their received faith in Christ. Together we are to walk through that door of renewed faith, new commandment love, hope and mercy, especially in this Year of Mercy.







Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Homily Fourth Sunday of Easter Year C: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily Fourth Sunday of Easter Year C: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
·         Acts 13:14, 43-52;
·         Ps 100:1-4, 5;
·         Rev 7:9, 14b-17
·         John 10:27-30

 Christ, the Good Shepherd, who wipes away our tears

Today we celebrate Christ the true and Good Shepherd, who loves us his flock, and wipes our tears. Tears here remind me stories told about me when I was between the ages of 1 and 6. We are six siblings. I am the baby of the house. I was told by my parents and my elderly ones that I used to cry a lot each time my mum was leaving home for groceries, or to the farm. I acted as if I had lost something or someone. But on her return I would be filled with joy.  Usually, she comes home with gifts, wipes away my tears, and reassures me that she left home temporarily to get vegetables from the farms or some food items from the grocery store, for the good of the family. Most of us do the same, especially when we loss members of our families! Members of my family are mourning now for the loss of our eldest brother, Mr. Linus Edwin E. Udoekpo. But, there is hope for believers, in spite of this seeming difficulty.

The post- resurrection Church, no doubt had their own difficulties- including crises of faith, sense of doubt and lose of their master, and of course all other kinds of persecutions. Some wept that Christ was no longer there, as I would do when mum was temporarily away.

 A typical example is Paul and Barnabas in the Acts of the Apostles chapter 13, today’s first reading. They were persecuted, resisted, rejected, abused and violated because they preached the gospel. But the irony is that they more they were persecuted, and put through all kinds of stress, the more their tears were wiped. The more the word of God was spread throughout the entire region, down to the Gentiles.  This gives them great joy and they were filled with the Holy Spirit

 With faith and courage it does not take too long to realize that God is always with us. He cares and loves as a loving mother or father, who seemingly leaves, but he/ she is always there for the weeping child. He is that Lamb in the Book of Revelation, who wipes away the tears from the eyes of those who persevere to the end, no matter the challenges the face including death or the loss of their loved ones.  He dresses them up with white garments and wipe away their tears.

 He is that Good Shepherd in today’s gospel long foreshadowed in Jeremiah, 23, Ezekiel 34 and in Psalm 23. He listens to them. He knows his flock. He heals them when they are sick. He gives them eternal life. And he makes sure no one takes them away from him or from His Father, since he and God the Father are one.

 Like Paul and Barnabas, if we approach our personal challenges with faith and courage they are just stepping stones to joy and eternal happiness. They are stepping stones to those moments when our tears shall be wiped out.

 If you really look around and compare our challenges with those of everyone else in other parts of the world, it could have been worse. There are so many ways God has blessed us or wiped away our tears!-, the democracy we have, the food, water, electricity, the freedom to worship God. There are some without them. And he wants us to be present for one another, to reach out in whatever way we can to our neighbors, in prayer (think of those who lost their lives in recent terrorist acts globally etc), telephone calls, charity, kindness, visit with the sick, to wipe away the tears of our neighbors- just as a loving mother would wipe away the tears of her children.




Saturday, April 9, 2016

Homily 3rd Sunday of Easter Year C: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily 3rd Sunday of Easter Year C: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
·          Acts 5:27-32, 40b-41;
·         Ps 30:2,4,5-6,11-13;
·         Rev 5:11-14 and John 21:1-19

 Witnessing the Resurrected Christ,

The Responsorial Psalm of today, “I will praise you Lord, for you have rescued me,” sets the tone for what we celebrate today, the resurrection of Christ, the source of our hope and joy; the joy of love; Amoris Laetitis as captured in the resent post- synodal document of Pope Francis. Like Peter and his fellow disciples, the readings of today invites us  to constantly bear witness to Christ, his resurrection, in good times and in bad times, during summer an during winter.

The resurrection of Christ is factual and truthful. It is not a fiction!  We have seen this proven in today’s Gospel. Jesus appears the third time to his disciples. Now it was in the midst of their fishing business.

 Initially it was like a dream. They did not recognize him, not until they shared a meal. Sharing a meal with one another, especially with the poor is another way of expressing a joyful love and witnessing to Christ. It also can close the gap of doubt, suspicion and denial among members of the community.

 Peter becomes a different person after sharing meal with Christ again. Unlike the doubting Peter who denied Christ three times, today we have a loving Peter, who professes his love for Christ, three times. Christ, being man and God believes Peter. He sees through Peter. Peter is honest and sincere.  Peter is given a second chance. He was not written off. The Lord entrusts him with the chair of Peter of caring for his flock, teaching them and leading them to a life of true witness to Christ (John 21:15-19).

Peter of course is serious. He shows it in today 1st reading, Acts of the Apostles.  He says to the enemies of the faith, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things… (Acts 5:27-32).

Witnesses to these things, the events of the lamb that was slain, if we choose to go by the language of the 2nd reading (Rev 5:11-14), comes with challenges and great sacrifices. Choosing to obey God, the teachings of the Church, rather than just humans and secular or some faithless thoughts of this century, is a form bearing witness to Christ’s resurrection.

How, where and when we do this are left for us.

 Certainly there are millions of ways out there to witness to Christ, joyfully: sharing meals with our neighbors is one of them, the Eucharist we actively participate in is one of them. Others could be, reaching out to the poor, praying for, loving and respecting one another, our dads, our moms, brothers and sisters, our children and grandchildren, husbands and wives, friends and partners, colleagues and peers. Forgiveness, letting go, all acts of charity, courage, fortitude, hope and faith endurance, praise and thankfulness to God, are also forms of bearing witness to Christ, who willingly went to the cross order to rescue us!


Saturday, April 2, 2016

Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter) Year ABC: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily for Divine Mercy Sunday (2nd Sunday of Easter) Year ABC: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
·         Acts 2:42-47;
·          Ps 118:2-4,13-15,22-24;
·          1 Pet 1:3-9 (A); Acts 4:32-35; 1 John 5:1-6 (B);
·         Acts 5:12-16; Rev 1:9-11a, 12-13,17-19 (C)
·         John 20:19-31(ABC)

 Christ of Easter: Conduits of Divine Mercy!

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter, but declared by our Blessed John Paul the II on April 30, 2000 as the Divine Mercy. He did so to commemorate Christ’s revelations to Saint Sister Faustina of Poland. Divine Mercy is a celebration of who God is, – merciful, kind, faithful, compassionate, forgiving, – as manifested in Christ –whose resurrection, of course we celebrate this Easter.  This Year’s celebration is unique, in that it falls as you know in the Year of Mercy, declared by the Holy Father, Pope Francis. What a great celebration! Divine Mercy in a Year of Mercy. It’s a celebration of merciful, forgiving; kind and compassionate God, in a Year of Mercy!! What a unique attribute!

This attribute of God finds expressions  in different ways and not only in the Old Testaments,/the Hebrew Bible (Exodus 34:5–7; cf.  Num 14:18; Pss 86:5, 15; 103:8; 145:8; Neh 9:17; Micah 7:18-20; Jonah 4:2) but particularly in today’s bible readings. In Exodus 34:5–7, for instance, God reveals himself to Moses on Mount Sinai as “a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love and fidelity, continuing his love for a thousand Generations… the ereke-payim.”

 In our generation of the New Testament Christ shows us this love not only in the events of the cross and resurrection which we celebrate during Holy Week and Easter.  In today’s Gospel (John 20:19-31), after his resurrection Christ continues to appear  before his disillusioned disciples, including the doubting Thomas. Thank God he finally put his finger there, in Christ's wound! His appearances were not in vain. They were to strengthen their faith. In his appearances he brings them peace, shalom. He shows he cares. He wants to know how they were doing, their well-being! He is checking -in on them! He brings his love, kindness and compassion and commissions them to do likewise to their neighbors, as presented in the 1st readings. Do we check-in our neighbors?

In the Acts of he Apostles, it is an act of mercy for every Christian to keep the faith, to be peaceful, to be forgiving, to spread the Good News, and to bear witness to the events and values that Christ stood food, to check in on their neighbors, as Peter and the Eleven did ( Acts 5:12–16). It was an act of mercy for the early Christian community to be merciful to one another. We are told “all who believed were together and had all things in common’ (Acts 2:42–47). They were of one heart with love, kindness and compassion (Acts 4:32–35), even to the poor, the sick and the needy member of the community.

  We can learn from them. On this day of Divine Mercy Sunday, wherever we are(– sub ways, buses, roads, offices, work places, factories, politics, worship communities, prisons, United Nation)  let us think of those ways (spiritually and corporally) in which we can be present to one another as Christ did with his disillusioned disciples. Let us think of those moments when our faith is being challenged. Those moment when you are sick. Those moment when you loosed your loved one (as did with my senior brother Linus, who passed away on March 30th, 2016... may he rest in peace!].

 Divine Mercy Sunday, especially in this Year of Mercy, challenges us today, in this century, in this year, to stand in the midst of our “broken” and “divided” world, in the midst of our broken homes, families and communities,  and broken relationship with words and gestures of peace, love, compassion, faithfulness, justice and righteousness. Above all, Divine Mercy Sunday challenges us to imitate Christ, by being agents and conduits of divine mercy!