Monthly Archives: December 2014

The Holy Family by Fr. Joel

The teaching of the Bible is that the family, as an institution, came from GOD; God created the family, he invented it, not man, not culture, not society, and certainly not any government. In Genesis 2:18-24. The Lord God said: ‘’ It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him…… So the Lord GOD cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. The Lord GOD then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man, the man said: ‘’this one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called ‘woman’ for out of man she was taken.’’ That is why a man leaves his father and mother and cling to his wife, and the two of them become one body.’’ This was the very first marriage on earth from which each one of us came into being. So it is logical and natural that offspring should be like their parents in all aspects. If we decide to do things differently according to our own comfort and convenience then we are not natural (not following God’s plan). We become artificial human beings.

We were created by God and for a purpose. All God wants from us is to live in accordance will his divine will and purpose. In the Bible we see God’s will properly spelled out for us to follow. Doing the contrary amounts to disobedience and doing our own wills. It is only when we follow his will that we can experience real peace and love in our lives. Marriage and family life is the will of God for the human society. These are his designs for us on how to live and be happy. Marriage and family life is the root of every human being and our society at large. There is serious need for us to protect and promote marriage and family life. We must hold on to good family values in order to maintain the family and society. Our world is full of all kinds of evil because we have thrown away these good values of the family. Divorce, crime, drug addiction, depression, disharmony, violence, hatred, disrespect and many others are in the increase because family and religious values are no longer thought and practiced. We must go back to the drawing board in order to address these issues in our world.

At Christmas God decided to become a member of a human family. That was when the word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:31). He became a member of the family of Joseph and Mary in Nazareth. This is the family that is called the Holy Family of Nazareth, whose feast we celebrate today. Incidentally that is the name of our Parish community. So it is a special feast for us today.

The family like any other institution has some rules governing it. Love and care for one another is the ultimate law in the family. Mutual love is the fundamental law of human life and the pillar of the family. Our readings today focus on love as the pillar and core of family life. Of all influences in our life, the family influence is the most powerful. It stays with us for a long time, some times for a life- time. It is in the family that we have ‘identities’, it is in the family that we have a place that we called our’’ home’’ and have bonds. St. Paul teaches today that fraternal love is the hallmark of a Christian community-charity begins at home. Interpersonal relationships among family members could be achieved through the practice of virtues such as: patience, kindness, humility, sacrifice, forgiveness and love.

Joseph was a good husband and father. He wanted to spare Mary’s publicity and divorce her quietly; not to disgrace and humiliate her publicly. He showed Mary love and gave her protection as a husband. Together with Mary he offered love and protection to the child Jesus e.g. flight to Egypt for safety, presentation of Jesus in the temple, search for Jesus when he got lost and many more acts of love to him. Mary was a humble woman who submitted to the authority of her husband, Joseph. Jesus too humbled himself and lived under the authority of his earthly parents. This family lived in love, peace and unity. It is a model for all families.

As a husband and father can you be voted for as being good by your wife and children? Do you love and offer protection to them? How much sacrifice do you make for the up keep of the family? Are you a responsible and gentleman?

As a wife and mother do you think you husband and children consider you a good wife and mother? How much love do you show them? What is your contribution for the welfare of the family? Are you humble and submissive to your husband? How loving and caring are you to them in the family.

As children how obedient and submissive are you to your parents? Do you show them love and respect? How hard are you working for your HF Narthex statueself development? How do you relate with one another in the family? Do you appreciate your parents for all the sacrifices they make for you?

As a family are you living in harmony? Is your family a true Christian home? Is your family a family that prays together? Do you eat together? Are all of you in talking terms and relating well? How often do you visit one another? Are you in communion with one another and with the church of God? Can your family be compared with the Holy Family of Nazareth? What efforts are you making to tackle the challenges in your family?

We should learn from the Holy Family of Nazareth how to be a holy family by imbibing the virtues of humility, sacrifice, kindness, forgiveness, hard work, patience, caring and love for one another.

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Rejoice and Speak the Truth by Fr. Joel

A priest came to mass and greeted the people as usual; ‘’the Lord be with you’’ but he was not  advent joyheard by the congregation because the microphone was not working. The priest banged the microphone with his hand and it started working but he did not know. The microphone pick up his voice and broadcasted it loudly to the people as he said; ‘’something is wrong with this microphone!!’’ And the people responded their normal way; ‘’and with your spirit’’ I believe there are times people think something is wrong with the priests’ spirits especially when we preach what people do not want to hear. That is exactly what John the Baptist did to prepare the people for the coming of the messiah. We hear him condemn their evil ways with expression such ‘’brood of vipers’’ he told Herod that it was not right to marry his brother’s wife.

Today we celebrate the third Sunday of advent referred to as ‘’Guadete’’ Sunday, a Latin word which means rejoice. When things are bad and we are suffering, we look for a messiah to save us from the problem. That was the situation of the people of Israel at the time of prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist. That is why we heard from the prophet, Isaiah today foretelling the coming of the messiah to the people. He said the messiah will be anointed with the spirit of the Lord and be sent ‘’to bring good news to the poor, bind up broken hearts; proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to those in prison; proclaim a year of favor for the Lord.’’ St Paul tell us in the second reading to rejoice always, give thanks to God in all circumstances, retain what is good, and refrain from doing evil. Furthermore, the responsorial psalm is the song of joy and thanksgiving by the Blessed Virgin Mary. This Sunday emphases the joy that accompany the birth of Jesus, and it is meant to put us in the mood of joy and celebration as we hear the good news.

This good news sometimes sounds unpleasant to us because of some demands that it brings on us. We have a tendency, as humans, of not accepting anything that is not sweet or anything that does not agree with our world view. And because of this desire for good, sweet, and easy way out of difficult situations, we often fall into the trap of the evil one. He presences us with what we want or like and we easily fall into the trap. That is common, but experience and studies have shown that nothing good comes easy.

Many people came and claimed that they were the messiah, but they were not. John the Baptist was so humble that he said he was not even worthy to undo the strap of his sandals when the people thought he was the messiah. He told them the truth about the messiah. Here, he demonstrated great humility, an example for us to emulate. Jesus bore testimony to John when he said of all those born of women no one is greater than him. And yet he was not ready to admit even being a prophet.

The quest for happiness is one of the greatest needs of life. But how to get this happiness is always the problem. History has shown that truly great and happy men and women were distinguished by their humility in life. Proud people always fall into the devil’s trap by accommodating sins and commit crimes that offend people and society. Proud people are always conscious of self-appreciation and self-affirmation which usually lead to egocentrism, self-centeredness, arrogance, and aggressiveness. The results of these are: pain, sadness, and misery. Preoccupation with our public image and recognition leads to slavery to our ego. So, to be truly great and happy, we have to forget ourselves and commit ourselves to serving others. You must consider yourself last and servant to others in order to be happy. You will become great by making others great; you will become happy by making others happy.

Our world needs many John the Baptists with humility and boldness to identify sin and condemn it. We need humility to reach out to others and say we are sorry, forgive others, make peace, visit with others, befriends others, to share what I have with others, to see others as better than ourselves, to tell others that we are children of the same God. This is the good news that our world need today. We have been called and anointed to preach this good news; to give love, forgiveness, joy, and to speak the truth.

THIRD SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR B

Make His Path Straight by Fr. Joel

faithThe first and gospel readings of today talk about making the road straight for the Lord to come in. Usually, when we are expecting an important guest, we make effort to clean up our house so that the guest would not come and fine our house looking dirty or in bad shape. In the same way, the prophets Isaiah and John the Baptist asked the people during their time to prepare themselves for the coming of the Lord, an important guest into their lives.

The voice of John the Baptist in the wilderness was fulfilments of Isaiah’s prophesy that a voice from wilderness will call people to repentance. John the Baptist asked the people to make straight and prepare the way for the Lord Jesus to come in. He talked about levelling the mountains and valleys. This mountains and valleys are not physical features out there, but are mountains and valleys inside people’s hearts. The paths and high-ways are our hearts. The mountains, hills and valleys are the pride, bitterness, lack of love, lack of forgiveness, lack of faith, lack of mercy, selfishness etc. in our hearts. We are call upon to level these mountains and fill in these valleys with the love of Christ. It is only when we do this that the Lord can come into our hearts and stay.

Last week, we read about ‘’staying awake and being vigilant’’ in order to welcome the Lord Jesus into our lives. Today is about ‘’making his path straight’’ so that he can have smooth passage into our hearts. This is what advent is all about; to prepare to welcome Jesus into our lives. We truly need Jesus more than ever in our lives today. Our world is full of pride, hatred, division, violence, depression, selfishness and greed. We have welcomed the evil into our lives and it is destroying us. There is so much hatred and bitterness in our lives. We tell lies, cheat, we do not want to help or make sacrifices for one another. Like I said last week, people love without commitment, marry without children and have children without responsibility. We have destroyed our marriages and family lives. We no longer live together, love one another, respect family values and we no longer have respect for human lives again.

The Bible and the Church teach that we love one another, share with others our resources, live together in families and communities and support each other. The church is teaching today that we allow Jesus to come into our lives and reign. But we are doing the opposite. We live and do things our own ways. The Bible is teaching us to love each other but we hate and kill each other. All the good values that God gave to make us happy, we have destroyed. We need to welcome Jesus into our lives now in order to experience his love and peace. We need to protect our culture of love, sharing, respect, sacrifice, commitment and responsibility in our families and communities so that we experience the love and joy of Christ in our lives. We need to teach our children how to love, respect, share, support each other and live family and community life. Now is the time to prepare our hearts to receive Jesus and his love into our lives.

SECOND SUNDAY OF ADVENT CYCLE B

Staying Awake and Vigilant by Fr. Joel

Advent means coming. It is a period set aside by the church for us to stay awake to welcome our Lordhope sqare size Jesus Christ. This was adopted from a pagan tradition where people stayed awake at certain times of the year waiting on their gods or kings to come meet them. So, advent means the same thing for us Christians, which is, staying awake, waiting on our Lord and king, Jesus Christ.

There are three types of coming of our Lord. The first is his coming in the flesh which happened 2000 years ago. We, today can only celebrate that as a memorial, which we do as Christmas celebration. The second is his second coming in glory to judge and crown us for our good works. And the third is his mysterious coming to us at every day and place out of love. At each of these, we need to prepare to welcome him with clean hearts and mind. And if we welcome him into our lives, we shall experience his love, joy and peace.

But unfortunately, our world has rejected him. Something is wrong with our world, society, culture and perhaps with us. That is why we lack confidence in our institutions, schools, economy, businesses, government, and families. We hear and see a lot of things but we do not know which the truth is.

In those good old days, kids played in streets without fear, we visited one another without fear, and people go to sleep without locking their doors. But today, we have all kinds of security checks everywhere. Today, many more people are sick, depressed, unhappy, scared, and commit suicide because of we have accepted individualism, greed, abortion, divorce and promiscuity in our lives. We have changed our moral values from love for one another and doing to others what you what done to you, to freedom to do what you like without minding the other person.

Something is indeed wrong with our world. We have chased Jesus away from our lives and have invited the devil into our lives. The devil is advancing his attacks and is successful in dismantling the most humanizing institution in the world, which is marriage and family life. The devil is sawing the seed of hatred and disunity among us. The devil is teaching us to have sex without love, love without commitment, marriage without children, children without responsibility. The devil is making us irresponsible by creating a chaotic and violent world. That is why we have a lot of crimes, hatred, divisions, and depressions.

The Bible taught us to love, share, sacrifice, and live together and support one another, but we are doing the opposite. God created the natural world out of love and forgiveness and asked us to create the social world out of love and forgiveness too, but we are doing the opposite. All the things that God put together in us, the devil is pulling apart. All the things that marriage put together, the devil is pulling apart.

The traditional family worked well because they brought together: sexual drives, physical desires, friendship, companionship, emotional love, begetting of children and caring for them, education on self-identity, true history, culture, and moral values. No institution has been able to bring all of these together like marriage. That is why marriage and family life is the only solution to our confused world. And because we have destroyed the family, we are facing a lot of problems today such as substance abuse, stress related syndrome, depression, suicide, and all kinds of crimes.

This will never stop unless we welcome Jesus into our lives and follow his teaching. We must recognize him as the potter and we as the clay to be molded by him to whatever shape that is good for us. We must be vigilant and wait for him to come into our lives to teach and lead us. We must stand strong to defend and protect our faith, marriage, families, culture, history and our children. We must embrace the values of love, sharing, community life, respect, commitment, and responsibility to one another. And now is the time to do so or else we shall be doomed.

FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT IN CIRCLE B