Be That Ray of Light

  1. The word ‘epiphany’ is a combination of two Greek words, ‘epi’ (on, upon) and ‘phaneia’ (shine, appear), thus, ‘epiphany’ can be roughly translated as “shine on” or “shine upon” or “appear upon”. From the perspective of liturgy however, ‘epiphany’ means ‘manifestation’ (of Christ to the world). It is traditionally celebrated on January 6th or on the Sunday between January 2nd – 8th. This feast celebrates the manifestation of Jesus to the gentiles by the revelation of his star to the Wise Men from the East, the implication of which is that Jesus did not come to save the Jews only but to save the whole world.
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  1. All the readings of today’s Mass point to the universality of the salvation Jesus won by his death and resurrection. Reading I says “the glory of the Lord is risen upon you… and nations shall walk by your light.” In Reading II, Saint Paul tells us that “Gentiles are fellow heirs…and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus…” and in the gospel text, we read of the star of Jesus that was seen by some wise men in the East.
  2. The bible tells us, as we heard in our gospel story, that the wise men were led to Christ by star light. It is important to point out here that that star appeared only once, and it will never appear or shine again. However, like the wise men, there are many people in our world today who need light in order to find Christ. Many people are groping in the darkness of sin, heading in the direction of doom, and needing a guiding light to see the error of their ways. As Christians, as believers, God expects us to be that ray of light that will save them from the darkness they are enveloped in. Jesus says that we are the light of the world, so we should not be hidden under the bed, but be on a lampstand in order to give out light; he says that our light must shine before men, so that they will see our good works and give the glory to our Father in heaven (cf. Mat 5:14-16). Of what good therefore, is our Christian faith, if it does not light up the darkness in someone’s life? So, God commands us today to “Arise and shine” and “let people also walk by our light” (cf. Isa 60:1, 3).
  3. Dear children of God, we all need to shine the light of Christ to the world. God is calling on us to be that ray of light by which people lost in the darkness of sin can find Christ.
  4. Where there is the darkness of lies, be that ray of light showing the path of honesty
  5. Where there is the darkness of laziness, be that ray of light showing the reward for hard work
  6. Where there is the darkness of envy and jealousy, be that ray of light bringing love and goodwill towards others
  7. Where there is the darkness of sexual immorality, be that ray of light leading people to chastity
  8. Where there is the darkness of strife, be that ray of light showing the path of peace
  9. Where there is the darkness of malice and grudges, be that ray of light reflecting forgiveness
  10. Where there is the darkness of adultery, be that ray of light pointing to marital fidelity
  11. Where there is the darkness of sin, be that ray of light that points to righteousness.
  12. A fundamental question we need to ask ourselves today is: “If people follow in my footsteps, if people copy my lifestyle, will they be led to Christ? Most importantly, we must remind ourselves today that in order to be a ray of light that can light up the way for people on their path to God, we must ourselves have light, since we cannot give what we do not have. This means that we must first do well to live righteously; we must first have a solid relationship with God before we can lead others to him. May the Lord Jesus help us by his grace, to always keep our lamps lit.

Rest on Rev. Fr. Isua

DUST TO DUST

Our last photo together was on his 40th ordination anniversary. Rest in peace, High Chief Taekwandus alias Udobaba 1, my first PP after ordination. Our gist has no end, until I excuse myself from him. And he’ll come knocking on my door and say, “Fr. Ameh, have you heard?” And that’s how “have you heard?” will become a 3-hour gist. I could knock on his door at anytime and ask him, “Igwe, are you busy?” If he says no, I will tell him, “come let me gist you something” and fiam, we are discussing every topic that comes to mind for hours. He was ordained long before I was born, but we were “gossip partners” as though we were contemporaries.

Chai! Nankrokotigbotatigbo wasn’t a perfect man, none of us is, but he most certainly was a good man, a very good man. It’s still very hard to accept the news of his death, but what can anyone do? Babunge, your crown prince/oga at the middle will sorely miss you.😭😭😭
May Heaven joyfully accept you.

3RD SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C By: Rev Fr. Ameh Sylvanus

3RD SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C

By: Rev Fr. Ameh Sylvanus

Readings: Nehemiah 8:2-6, 8-10; Psalm 19; 1 Corinthians 12:12-14; Luke 11-4, 4:14-21

Theme: The Living Word

Points for Reflection

1. Both the 1st reading and the gospel describes the attention the Jews paid to the reading of scriptures. The 1st reading says “the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law” and the gospel tells us that after reading from the scroll of the book of the Prophet Isaiah “the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him (Jesus)” to listen to what he would say. Today, we ask ourselves how much attention we pay to the reading of the Word of God especially during Mass. Sadly, many Christians today find various means of distracting themselves while the Word of God is preached. This is wrong.

2. In both the 1st reading and the gospel, the Word was read to all present. Nehemiah 8:3 specifically says men, women and all who were old enough to understand. This implies that children were also in that congregation. The Catholic church says 7 years is the age of reason, by which time, all things being equal, a child should be able to tell good from evil. These days, at age 7 or even earlier, a lot of children are already able to read and comprehend to a certain degree. Parents, how much of the Word of God do you expose your children to? How many simple Bible verses do you teach your children to memorize and practice? Where there is children Mass, do you allow your children to join other kids where the scripture will be broken to their level of understanding? Remember Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

3. The Word of God is a force of unity. Galatians 3:28 says in Christ Jesus, there is no Jew or Greek, no slave or freeborn, no man or woman, for all are one in Christ. This is God’s word, and it exhorts us to pull down all walls of division. This is also the point of today’s 2nd reading in which Paul tells us that like the parts of the body, each one of us is important, hence, we cannot stay divided. The Word of God has not changed, and even now, it still urges us to put away all reasons for division, discrimination and segregation.

4. The reading of the Word of God causes reactions in the hearers, for it is alive and active (Heb 4:12). When Ezra and the scribes read and preached the word, the people cried; when Jesus read and preached the word, the people took offense and almost killed him. It is not different even today. Sometimes when a message from scripture is preached, people cry, at other times, they clap, at other times, they laugh, while still at other times, they sit still in sober reflection. Every time God’s word is read and preached, it must stir something in us, it must provoke an emotion. We ought to listen to that emotion, because God speaks to us through it, and God points us to a certain kind of action to take in life. That is why Psalm 119:105 describes God’s word as a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. This means therefore, that we must always try to listen to what God is saying to our hearts whenever we read from scripture or hear it preached. Never be among those who close their hearts to the word of God because of the instrument God is using to share that word. IT IS GOD’S WORD, NOT THE PREACHER’S WORD.

5. Dedicate a portion of your day to the study of God’s Word. The Jews listened to Ezra and the scribes from sunrise to midday. Today, a few minutes studying the Word of God seem to some people like eternity. We spend time on a lot of other things, but time with God seem like a burden. That is a misplacement of priority. There is great gain, great blessings from studying scripture and practicing it (Psalm 1:1-3). Just as the human body requires daily food to escape malnourishment, so does the soul require daily doses of the Word of God to stay spiritually healthy. Feed it daily.

May the Word of God be for us a guide throughout this week and beyond.

2ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C By: Fr. Ameh Sylvanus

2ND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME, YEAR C

By: Fr. Ameh Sylvanus

Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 96; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11

The audacity of faith

1. Jesus was invited to that wedding (Jn 2:2).
The young couple were beginning their life as man and wife, and though they didn’t know who Jesus truly was or of his powers, they invited him. Today, we know that he is God, we know he can do all things, but many still don’t invite him into their lives and situations. In our work, business, studies, marriages, and all, we should always learn to put Jesus first (Rev 22:13) and like with the couple at Cana, his presence will make all the difference.

2. The couple didn’t even know Jesus saved the day for them (Jn 2:8-10).
Neither the steward nor the groom knew Jesus saved them from an embarrassing situation. Behind the scene, he performed a miracle and of course, the wedding went on happily. Every single day, Jesus saves us from dangers and many embarrassing situations that we know nothing of (2 Kgs 6:8-17). His hands guard us every moment of every day. Even when things seem to be bad, know that if it were not for God, if could have been worse. We may really never know how much God does for us each day until the end of our lives. All we can do is to thank God at the end of each day for those times he came through for us, especially those of which we were not aware. And the best way to show gratitude to God is by being obedient children of his who strive to live in uprightness.

3. Jesus performed this miracle at the prompting of Mary his mother.
It was on Mary’s intercession that Jesus saved the couple of Cana from shame. This is the beauty and power of intercessory prayers. Many, if not all of us, are beneficiaries of some blessings from God only because someone somewhere begged Him to bless us. There are many other such instances in the scripture where people received a favor from God because another person interceded for them. There is the example of Abraham interceding for Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18:17-33); the Syrophoenician woman interceding for her daughter (Mat 15:22-28); the friends of the paralytic man bringing him before Jesus (Mk 2:1-12); the centurion begging Jesus to heal his sick servant (Lk 7:1-10), and many others. We must learn to pray for each other always. Spiritually standing in the gap for someone is the best gift we could ever give. Let us learn to move our focus from ourselves sometimes and dedicate our prayers to God for someone else.

4. The audacity of faith
The blessed mother Mary showed great faith in her son, Jesus, when, after telling him the wine had run out, despite his response which didn’t seem positive, still went and told the servants to do whatever He tells them. The servants also showed faith when, though they didn’t understand why Jesus would ask them to fill the stone jars with water when they needed wine, went ahead and did as they were instructed. Neither Mary nor the servants knew what Jesus was going to do, but they just believed he would do something. I call this the audacity of faith; that kind of audacity that moves us to trust God even when we do not understand his plans for us. We see such faith too, expressed by Peter (Lk 5:1-10) and the widow of Zarephath (I Kgs 17:1-16) who believed the words of Jesus and prophet Elisha respectively. Most times, we will not know what plans God has, what he is going to do, but He demands that we trust Him still. Remember that “without faith, no man can please God” (Heb 11:6). Pray often therefore, that God strengthens your faith.

Have a blessed week.

FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY

FEAST OF THE EPIPHANY

Readings: Isaiah 60:1-6; Psalm 72: Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6: Matthew 2:1-12

Theme: Arise and Shine!

1. Today, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. The word ‘epiphany’ is a combination of two Greek words, ‘epi’ (on, upon) and ‘phaneia’ (shine, appear), thus, ‘epiphany’ can be roughly translated as “shine on” or “shine upon” or “appear upon”. From the perspective of today’s liturgy however, ‘epiphany’ means ‘manifestation’ (of Christ to the world). It is traditionally celebrated on January 6th or on the Sunday between January 2nd and 8th. This feast celebrates the manifestation of Jesus to the gentiles by the revelation of his star to the Wise Men from the East, the implication of which is that Jesus did not come to save the Jews only but to save the whole world.

2. The universality of this salvation Jesus won for us is reflected in all the readings of today’s Mass. Reading 1 says “NATIONS shall walk by your light”; the Psalmist says “ALL NATIONS shall fall prostrate before you, O Lord” while the 2nd Reading tells us that “Gentiles are now fellow heirs (of salvation), members of the same body, and partakers of the promise of salvation and in the Gospel text, we read that Jesus’ star was seen in the East; the wise men saw his star and in it, his glory, and they came to worship him.

3. For the purpose of our reflection today, we shall focus on the gospel text. Today’s gospel tells us that the wise men were led to Jesus by star light. That star appeared once, never to appear again. But even today, there are still very many people who need to find Jesus. Isaiah 60:2 says “Thick darkness shall cover the peoples…” Look around the world and you will agree with me that the darkness of sin and unrighteousness has covered many people. Such people need the light to lead them out of their darkness, and God expects us to be their guiding stars. So today, God says to us: Arise, shine! Shine, because God’s glory has risen upon you. When the radiance of God shines upon us, we must reflect it to others. In Exodus 34:29, scripture tells us that when Moses came down from the mountain, his face shone, because he had been talking to God.

4. As God’s children, Jesus says we are the light of the world and our light must shine, so that seeing our good work, people will give glory to our Father in heaven (Mat 5:14-16). So we ask ourselves today:
* Am I being a light, leading people out of the darkness of sin?
* If people follow my lifestyle, will they find God at the end?
* As a husband/father, am I being a light to my wife/children?
* As a wife/mother, am I being a light to my husband/children?
* Can I convincingly ask my husband/wife/children to imitate my lifestyle? If they do, how will they end?
* As an elder brother/sister, what am I showing my younger ones by the kind of life I live: light or darkness?
* As a teacher, is my life a light guiding my pupils/students?
* As a priest, can my parishioners follow in my example and find God?
* The word of God says “Nations shall come to your light” (Isa 60:3). If people come to you, will they find light or darkness?
Hear me child of God: If nobody is looking up to you for spiritual mentorship and guidance, then your time on earth is wasting.

5. Child of God, the time has come for us to rise and shine!
• Arise and shine, because God’s glory has been given to you
• Arise and shine, because the world is in darkness and needs your light
• Arise and shine, because there are many souls seeking for direction to where they can find Jesus, and they need you to show them the way.
• Arise and shine, because if you dim your light and prevent people from finding their way to God, you shall be held accountable on the day of judgment
• Arise and shine, because somebody needs your light in order not to end up in hell.
• Arise and shine, because God has commanded us to do so.
• Arise and shine, because in shining, your own soul will avoid hell and go to heaven.

6. Very importantly, never think that the light you give off is too small compared to the darkness around you. Even one little lit bulb can give light to a room that can contain a thousand bulbs. If we all give off our little lights, then we shall have brightness all over in no time. Also, always bear in mind that to shine the light of righteousness, we must be in constant touch with Jesus, the source of righteousness. We cannot shine unless we ourselves have light, since one cannot give what one does not have.

May Jesus the bright morning star, help us to live our lives in brightness Amen.

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH (YEAR C) By: Rev. Fr. Ameh Sylvanus

FEAST OF THE HOLY FAMILY OF JESUS MARY AND JOSEPH (YEAR C)

By: Rev. Fr. Ameh Sylvanus

Readings: 1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28; Psalm 83; 1 John 3:1-2,21-24; Luke 2:41-52

Points for Reflection

👉🏽Samuel (1st Reading) and Jesus (Gospel) had their first contact with the place of worship when their parents took them there. The family must be the first meeting point between children and God and Christian parents must strive to make this happen. Teach your children about God, introduce them to God from their earliest days. Do not wait till they get old, else, if they miss that foundation, they may never be able to build it again (cf Proverbs 22:6).

👉🏽No family is without its own uniqueness and challenges. Elkanah and Hannah were rich, but they begged God for a child for a long time before they had Samuel. Joseph and Mary were poor, but they Mary conceived of Jesus even before they came to be together. Neither their childless state (parents of Samuel) nor their poverty (parents of Jesus) could tear them apart. Our own families too will have challenges that may be heavy on us. We must never let them break our homes. In the long run, God always comes to the aid of those who are faithful to him (cf. Ps 34:19).

👉🏽Parents, let your children see you supporting each other, especially in moments of crisis. Elkanah supported Hannah through her childless years. Joseph and Mary were together as they looked for Jesus. Scripture does not record that one spouse was hostile to the other or abandoned the other. We have parents today who behave like Adam and Eve, blaming each other for any and every of their troubles, abandoning each other in the process. This must not be so. I wonder how Jesus would have felt if it was only Joseph or only Mary who came looking for him. Parents, share your responsibilities together, be pillars of support for each other, and let your children see this in you.
Whatever comes your way as a family, you’re in it together.

👉🏽Celebrating the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph reminds us of our common fraternity under God. We are all God’s children, brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. We ought to look past our dividing lines of tribe, color, religion, social status and see that we were all created in God’s image and likeness. When we pray “The Lord’s Prayer”, we all together call God “Our Father.” This is a call for us to pull down the walls of division existing between us and others, and build bridges of friendship and fraternity in their stead (Gal 3:28).

May the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph continually intercede for our own families, especially in moments of crisis. Amen

4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR C By: Rev. Fr. Ameh Sylvanus

Readings: Micah 5:2-5; Psalm 80; Hebrews 10”5-10; Luke 1:39-45

1. Today is the last Sunday of Advent, meaning Christmas is imminent. All the prophecies of the birth of the Messiah are becoming clearer in our readings. Today’s 1st reading mentions specific town of his birth and the gospel talk about some events before Jesus was born, precisely, about Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, her older cousin. Interestingly, the readings talk about the power of God over nature and human conditions and from this, we shall take two lessons.

a. There is no problem God cannot solve.
In the gospel, Mary visited Elizabeth who was 6 months pregnant. The angel Gabriel told Mary that “she who is called barren is now in her 6th month” (Luke 1:36). In Genesis 30:23, barrenness was seen as a reproach; it was a thing of shame, disgrace and humiliation. Elizabeth herself also said this when at last she conceived. She said: “for God has taken away my public disgrace” (Lk 1:25). When Elizabeth conceived, she was already past child-bearing age, but that was no hindrance to God. When God came into the picture, He changed everything. This was also the case of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, and Manoah’s wife (the mother of Samson). Sarah was even ridiculed by her servant and Samson’s mother by her mate. For God to make all these women pregnant, including the Blessed Virgin Mary, even without sexual intercourse is simply a pointer to the fact that God can do all things. Hence, whatever challenge we may be facing in life, let us bear in mind that it is not bigger than God, for with God, all things are possible.

b. Never look down on yourself
The first reading tells us that God chose an insignificant clan in the tribe of Judah as the birth place of Jesus while in the gospel, He chose a poor, insignificant girl to be the mother of Jesus. By human logic, this doesn’t make sense and it would never have happened. But the Bible says in I Corinthians 1:27 that “God purposely chose what the world considers weak to shame the strong.” Oftentimes, some people underrate themselves and think they can’t do any good or be any good. Some write themselves off because they are poor or at the lower rung of the social ladder, but God does not operate like that. God sees in us what neither the world nor we ourselves can see. We should therefore be challenged to never look down on ourselves because God does not look down on us. In the hands of God, no one is too small. May the Lord bless us as we prepare to celebrate his birth. Amen