Mystery Lost but Found

In the fifth Joyful Mystery, we meditate on the finding of our Lord Jesus in the Temple. Earlier in the course of our meditations on these mysteries we call Joyful we have seen how the coming of  Christ to the world, born of a woman- Mary, has taught us some things about the coming of Christ- the Divine Life into every soul. We have taken a look at the safeguards and the necessary things that characterize that ‘advent’. But today something has happened which we must consider and which also happens to the individual soul into whom Divine Life has been born. What happened? Mary and Joseph lost Jesus on their way back from Jerusalem!!!

This also happens in the life of each one of us. The Divine life which we have received can be lost. We should not feel frustrated or hopeless when this time comes, no matter how many times they come. Our lady and Joseph lost the Christ child after 12 years of being with him, nursing him and nurturing him, so we should not lose heart if this happens to us! Instead we should take a cue from Mary and diligently set out looking for him again. Each time we realize that we have become lax, and have let the flesh dominate and stifle the life of the Spirit in us, we should not give up or despair, we should set out searching for him the very moment we realize he is gone. Continue reading “Mystery Lost but Found”

Temple in Mystery

As we continue our meditations on the Joyful mysteries, reflecting on the passages in St. Luke’s gospel, we come across today the presentation of the child Jesus in the temple of Jerusalem. Luke however tells us that the God-Man was given a name, ‘Jesus‘.(Luke 2:21). This should lead one to ask, what exactly is in a name? The answer to this thankfully is not far-fetched, for Luke tells us that this name was the name the angel had told Mary at the annunciation and so it would be wise to consider what exactly he said about this name and for the purpose of our reflection, St. Matthew helps us with this. When this Angel appeared to St. Joseph, he said of this name: ‘She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins‘.(Matthew 1:21) And so, his name signified his purpose.

It is not without reason therefore that when Divine life is born into a soul at baptism, a name is given to the new person, for he has been born again in Christ, to a new purpose.

But again, this new life is, like Christ, brought to the temple.It is important that at this point we pause to consider what is going on here, for the temple is one of the greatest symbols of the Old covenant. Many have come out, without proper understanding of the relationship between the Old and the New to paint such a picture of our most holy faith as though there was some kind of fight or dichotomy or discord between the Old and the New covenants which flowed from the One Father. The true relationship between the two is this-the former was there for the latter and the latter was the fulfillment of the former. The Old covenant was to prepare God’s people for the New, and the New accomplish what the Old had started. Christ himself said: ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.…’. (Matthew 5:17) Continue reading “Temple in Mystery”

The Next steps in Mystery

Last time, I wrote to you all concerning the first Christian Evangelist- our mother Mary, little did I know that in discussing those elements of the faith with you, I was delving into the first two joyful mysteries of the Holy Rosary!!! Since we considered ‘conversion’ and ‘evangelization’ the last time, it seems to me that there is a pattern in these mysteries which relates how our Lord was born into the world to how he is born into our lives. So I feel compelled to follow this pattern to where it leads. I have done something of this kind in a previous article while focusing on the account in St. Matthew’s gospel in How Christ comes to be with us

Since it is after we learn about Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth that we meditate on the mystery of the birth of Christ Jesus to the world, born of woman- the Blessed Virgin Mary, It would seem that the fruit or consequence of evangelization is the birth of Christ in a soul. And like we said before, evangelization becomes a necessary precedent to the birth of a new Divino-human life on earth;a new Christ, every day in the world. For when we received the faith, believed and received power to be children of God in Baptism, we ceased to be merely human; we became ‘conformed to the image of Christ’ (Romans 8:29)-we became divine as well for divine life dwelt within us. And this was made possible by the action of the Holy Spirit through the merits of Christ on the cross. So what are you waiting for? Being ‘Christ‘ , you have a ‘mission‘ to ‘Christen‘ others- to be a ‘fisher of men’.(Luke 5:10) Continue reading “The Next steps in Mystery”

The first Christian Evangelist

As Christians, the importance of evangelization to our faith cannot be over-emphasized. It occupies so central a place in our very concept of faith- for if God, out of love for us, sent his son to lead us back to him by reproducing his very life in us, the fruit and indeed the proof of that very life of God in us is a life that seeks to also reach out to others. Like I have pointed out in a previous article, we were saved by the one mediator between God and man- Jesus Christ, who scripture says, ‘gave himself a ransom for all’. (1 Timothy 2:6). A true Christian spirit therefore consists in a ‘being for all’. Also, as St. Paul points out in Philippians 2, it follows that the kind of mind we should have amongst ourselves is such that was present in Christ Jesus who ‘emptied himself’ (Gr. Kenosis) for us, and so we should empty ourselves for others.

I sometimes like to put it this way; Jesus died on the cross for us so that we may die on the cross for others. The divine life that was emptied out into us was not just meant to be contained in us-No. It was rather meant to be emptied out as well into others. Evangelization is therefore a fruit of conversion, of salvation. Imagine a world full of Christian evangelists, of ‘other christs‘.

The centrality of this truth is shown forth from the very first day the good news of Christ’s birth came to earth- to man. Continue reading “The first Christian Evangelist”

Equality with God

I thought to myself that I couldn’t leave the month of September without sharing with you my favorite bible passage from this month. And guess what, it’s a passage many of us are very familiar with but yet most times we miss the vital message from this passage. This favorite passage of mine is Philippians 2:1-11. So if you could read along with me… PS This will be long…

Here St. Paul starts out by admonishing the people of Philippi to imbibe some certain virtues in communion with one another, and for me, this forms the basis or background for what he is going to be telling us in the next 10 verses. What was St. Paul saying? That if there was any encouragement in Christ to be found amongst them, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection or sympathy, the faithful of Philippi should complete his Joy by being of the same mind, having the same love and being in full accord with one another. He advises them to shun selfishness or conceit, but that rather in humility they should ’count others as more important than yourselves’, looking out for other people’s interests and not their individual interests alone. (cf. Philippians 2:1-4). These may sound like mere virtues which are extrinsic or external and which the faithful of Philippi should acquire to, in a way, garnish their Christianity and make them look nice before other people, but St. Paul disagrees with this notion. For him, this mind which he want us to have is not extrinsic to our Christian heritage but indeed flows from it, because this mind was also in Christ Jesus. (cf. Philippians 2:5).

How was this mind in Christ Jesus? St. Paul tells us, ‘who though he was in the form (Gr. morphe) of God, he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped (Gr. harpagmos) but emptied himself (Gr. Kenosis) taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.’  The Greek for ‘grasped’ here could also mean ‘exploited’ or ‘used to his own advantage’, as Pauline scholarship agrees, and so there we have it. It is clear therefore that the central theme of Paul’s message can be said to be ‘humility=divinity’. Most times we tend to think that God exercises his divinity by ‘superiority’ or by ‘Lording’ himself over us. We have the conception that He is God because He is creator. This is indeed a false conception. God is indeed eternal but He is not an ‘Eternal Creator’, Creation is by no means an intrinsic attribute of God, God was never compelled to create, either by something within himself or outside himself. There is however one thing God is eternally, and that is an ‘Eternal Father’. When we read 1 John 4:8 and learn that God IS Love, we realize that Love is indeed an intrinsic attribute of his being. His being goes concurrently and is indeed synonymous with his love. And so being an eternal Father, what he does eternally is to make his very being a gift of love, his very being an outpouring or an emptying (kenosis) of his life in love to another. Continue reading “Equality with God”

Please don’t Judge Me!!!

 

So I am still recovering from the wonderful experience I had at Delta State at the National Convention of the Federation of Catholic Medical and Dental Students (FECAMDS). Truly, it was a nice experience as I met many lovely people with sweet and beautiful hearts. In a way I experienced anew, the concept of family and the concept of communal work in the various activities organized for our benefit.

 

Last time I shared with you our experience on the way to Delta, and the things I learnt from our bible sharing that day on ‘Light on Our Minds’, today I’d like to share with you what I learnt on Friday at the thanksgiving mass. The Gospel passage that day was from Luke 6:35-42 and the Priest’s homily was centered on verses 37, 41-42 where our Lord categorically said, ‘don’t be a judge of others and you will not be judged, do not condemn and you will not be condemned…So why do you pay attention to the speck in your brother’s eye, while you have a log in your eye, and are not conscious of it? How can you say to your neighbor, ‘Friend, let me take this speck out of your eye’, when you can’t remove the log in your own? You hypocrite! First, remove the log from your own eye, then you will see clearly enough to remove the speck from your neighbor’s eye’.

 

You see, this passage is one we have heard a lot of times, but sadly we do not practice, we rather take it to horrendous extremes and eventually leave the message unattended. The truth is, a lot of us are guilty of this very fundamental message, even in the Christian community. There are many reasons why what our Lord says is important for us. Despite the fact that he is God and all he says is not just true but has direct implications to our own individual life experiences, judging others or condemning them is flawed on many counts. First is, no matter how nice we think we are, no matter how good we think we are, WE ARE NOT PERFECT!!! And that’s the simple truth, the goodness in a Christian is first and foremost a gift, something that he didn’t merit on his own accord and so something he should never see as a right or as something which by his possessing it has made him better or more special or to be preferred by God to other human beings. The truth is we all have weaknesses and our weaknesses may be other people’s strengths and vice versa, but the issue in our day is that certain weaknesses the world or society considers horrible seem to be loudest on our lips and we forget that even the tiniest of iniquities is horrendous to God. (Habakkuk 1:13). At this point the story of the Pharisee and tax collector in prayer comes to mind, despite the fact that we read the scriptures so much and join Jesus in accusing the Pharisees, most of the time we tend towards the Pharisees whom we have joined Jesus in accusing. Continue reading “Please don’t Judge Me!!!”

Light on our Minds

So I am at the annual convention of the Federation of Catholic Medical and Dental Students, taking place from the 10th till the 13th of this very month of September 2015 in Warri, Delta State, and so far it has been worth the while. The journey down here was smooth, and interesting too, so far medical and dental students from about 20 University Colleges of Medicine are here and it’s really fun seeing that number of people turn up to pray together, reflect together and discuss issues together, especially issues that particularly affect their faith and their chosen career path.

 

Speaking about the journey here, immediately it began, those marvelous beads called the rosary quickly rolled down the fingers of my brothers and sisters in the bus as we set out to commune with the saints and hand over the entire journey and program to God, guess the first part has paid off. However, sometime during the journey we set out to have a little discussion on the theme of the convention, ‘Living the Light’, as we reflected on some bible passages to that effect and shared, it was indeed enlightening. Continue reading “Light on our Minds”

Empire State of Sex

 

By: Chibuzor F. Ogamba

 

Many of us, including me, met the world in a ‘state of sex’, where the ultimate pleasure of human relations is in sex, the ultimate purpose of friendship is sex, the very end of a meeting between two people is sex, the way to hang out and have fun is sex, the best thing to sing about is sex, the very distinction between a man and a woman is with regard to sexual experience. You probably clicked to view this particular post because of the word ‘sex’. The time is upon the world when the totality of the human person is viewed and is defined by what he or she can do in sex. You are either ‘straight’ or ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ or ‘Bisexual’ or ‘Transgender’ or ‘Bestial’. The whole world has been so fixed on the sexual experience, that it has applied all its many other errors to this particular experience.

 

Why then do we get surprised when we start hearing about sex between men or between women when sex between a man and a woman has become so old-fashioned because it has been used up and all its peculiarities have been explored to the ‘fullest’? Why do we get agitated when some of us decide to choose who to enjoy the experience with? Why do we seem disgusted when we hear that a man or a woman does not prefer a sexual experience with the opposite sex, is not interested in being involved with the same sex either, but is more interested in lower animals, I mean, that has not been largely tried. Or should you think it out of trend that others having run out of trying the above options from a one-sided perspective are jumping at the idea and embracing the opportunity to try it from another? Even as we speak, I am sure many frustrated citizens of our world have put on their thinking caps for newer sexual experiences. Continue reading “Empire State of Sex”

Dance as a form of Praise

The psalmist under divine inspiration has continually cried out as he does in Psalm 67:4, ‘Let all the peoples praise you, O God, Let all the peoples praise you’. I call to mind also the prayer of praise of the three young men Shedrach, Meshach and Abednego while they were in the flames of the furnace. These three still had the courage to say, ‘All you works of the Lord, bless the Lord, Praise and exalt him above all forever’ (Daniel 3:57). Indeed the praise of God has rang out since the very foundations of the earth by all creatures and in so many ways. In fact, the need to praise God seems to be engraved in the very heart of creation itself. It is the psalmist also who, very clearly, gives us a picture of the possibility of even non-living creatures giving praise to the Lord their maker; the psalmist cries out in Psalm 148:3, ‘Praise Him O sun and Moon, Praise you Stars and Light’, and for what reason? ‘For he spoke, and they were made, he commanded and they were created’ (Psalm 148:6). The three young men also did cry out to the sun and moon, the stars of heaven and every shower and dew, nights and days, light and darkness, lightning and clouds, mountains and hills to praise and exalt Him. (Daniel 3:62-75). Continue reading “Dance as a form of Praise”

Thank You Jesus For Mary

‘THERE WAS NOT ONE CRUCIFIXION ON THAT DAY, BUT TWO: A MOTHER’S HEART AND HER SON’S BODY’
 
These words strike me as I write this on this great day of Our Lady, Our Mother, on this day when the whole Church marks her Assumption. Many people wonder at the way Catholics venerate the Mother of God, well I hope they find the answer and join in appreciating God for the gift of this woman, and so by extension, the gift of our salvation.

Continue reading “Thank You Jesus For Mary”