By: Rev. Fr. AMEH Sylvanus

Readings: Isaiah 49:3, 5-6; Psalm 40; I Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34

Theme: Living a life of purpose

It was Socrates, an ancient Greek philosopher who once said/wrote: “An unexamined life is not worth living.” This statement is so true and so vast as it is applicable to every sphere of human life/endeavours. An unexamined life is one that is lived without purpose and as it is said, “When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable.” Yes, even concerning our very lives, if we do not know the purpose of our lives, then we will most likely abuse our existence. What then is the purpose of human life? And how can one live a life of purpose?

Question two in our petty catechism says “Why did God make you?” This question is a very important one for every human being, and more so for us Christians because in it lies the general description of the purpose of our existence. The answer to that question is, “God made me to know Him, love Him and serve Him in this world, and to be happy with him forever in the next.” This tells us that God did not and does not just create people for the fun of it; this tells us that we are not products of accidents but of divine providence. God willed that we be here, and there is a reason why He created us. The question then is, “Are we living out the purpose of our creation?”

In the readings of today’s Mass, we see a presentation of purpose and a call to live a life of purpose. In the first reading, through the prophet Isaiah, God spoke to the people of Israel and now, to us, that He has called us and given us as light to the nations so that His salvation may reach to the ends of the earth. Saint Paul, in our second reading, identified his purpose when he said he was “called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus.” Very glaringly in the gospel reading, John the Baptist, born to be the precursor of Jesus, lived out his purpose when he points out Jesus as the “Lamb of God.” Even the responsorial psalm is an invitation for us to live out our purpose in life. The psalmist says, and we ought to join him in saying, “See, I have come, Lord, to do your will.”

As mentioned earlier, the petty catechism says God created us to know, love and serve Him in this world (purpose) so that we will be happy with Him in the next world (reward). Anything outside of this is living outside of God’s purpose for us. So when we look at our lives, can we say we are living a life of purpose? What is the nature of our relationship with God (knowing God)? Do we love God (principally expressed in love of our neighbours)? How much of our time, energy and resources do we commit to serving God? Does our life point people to God? Do we commit to bringing God’s salvation to the ends of the earth? Do we realize the purpose of our lives and are we living it out? Isaiah did everything in his power to keep the people of God in right relationship with God; Paul was a zealous apostle of Jesus Christ from the very beginning to the very end; John openly declared Jesus as the Lamb of God to his disciples and the rest of the people. They lived a life of purpose. You and I therefore, must ask ourselves how well we are doing in living out the purpose for which God created us. We must always pray, like the psalmist, for God to help us do His will at all times. May the grace of God never permit us to live outside of God’s purpose for us. Amen.



By: Rev. Fr. AMEH Sylvanus

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

Theme: Salvation for all

The Church celebrates today, the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord, which basically is a commemoration of the revelation of Jesus to the gentiles and their inclusion in the salvation he brings for all of mankind. This implies that Jesus Christ did not come to save the Jews only, but all of humanity. It is even by virtue of this revelation of the salvation of Christ to the gentiles that made it possible for you and I to be Christians today. The Eastern Rite of the Catholic Church celebrates today as their Christmas.

This universal character of Christ’s mission on earth is also reflected clearly in all three readings of today’s Mass. In the First Reading, the prophet Isaiah tells us that the glory of the Lord is risen and ALL NATIONS shall work by His light. Saint Paul, in his Letter to the Ephesians (Second Reading), declared that “Gentiles are fellow heirs and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus” while the Gospel reading recounts to us, how the star of Jesus was seen and followed by Wise Men from the East until they found the new born King. These readings are quite instructive and hold some very important lessons for us, but we shall take only two lessons from them.

Lesson 1: Salvation is open to all

Before and even during the ministry of Jesus, the Jews had thought that they alone had exclusive rights to the kingdom of heaven. They believed that being descendants of Abraham, being the chosen race, they were the only ones to be saved. To their mind, heaven was the exclusive preserve of anyone born a Jew, and those who were not Jews were excluded. This explains why, before God sent Peter to the house of Cornelius, a Roman centurion (a gentile), He first showed him a vision of all kinds of animals, both “clean” and “unclean” and asked him to kill and eat and when Peter refused, on the grounds that he has never eaten anything unclean, God told him not to call anything He has created unclean. This mindset of the Jews also explains why some of the members of the early Church were angry at Saint Peter for going to Cornelius’ house, until Peter explained to them that it was all God’s plan (Acts 10:9 – 11:1-18). But what the Jews did not know was that God’s plan was different (Isa 55:8-9). God desires for everybody to be saved, including you and I. One thing they failed to realize was that even the non-Jews (Gentiles) are also children of God and God loves us all equally. All this was made clear by the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. This is why Saint Paul wrote that “In union with Christ Jesus, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor freeborn, male nor female, for all are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). Jesus in his ministry of preaching also told the Scribes and Pharisees that “People will come from the East and West, from the North and South and sit at table in the kingdom of God” (Lk 13:29).

What this lays before us is that we must never make the attempt to exclude anyone from God’s invitation to receive grace, be they Catholic, Protestants, Muslims or of whatever faith. The prerogative of who enters into heaven or not belongs to God and God alone, and we must not constitute ourselves into hindrances preventing people from going in, or worse still, judging and condemning people as unfit for the kingdom of heaven. Sometimes we seem to forget, as Adrian Rogers once said, that “Salvation is not a reward for the righteous – it is a gift for the guilty.” While the Jews believed that the keys to their mansion in heaven was waiting for them, Jesus shocked them when he said that even those they have condemned to hell may make heaven while they themselves will be cast out into thick darkness (cf. Lk 13:28). Dear child of God, what is most important for us is that God has given us the gift of universal salvation, making it possible for us to also be sharers in the beatific vision of heaven. What we ought to concern ourselves with therefore, is to make the effort to enter by the narrow gate (Mat 7:13), and allow God to worry about who else qualifies for heaven or not, for God wants everyone to be saved and to know the truth (1 Tim 2:4).

Lesson 2: We are called to be lights

The gospel reading tells us that the wise men were led to Christ by the light of a star. That star shone once and will never shine again. But many people are still groping in the darkness of sin, needing light to lead them out of that darkness. Today, God calls upon us to be their bright stars. So, as the prophet Isaiah tells us in the First Reading we must arise and shine, for the glory of the Lord is risen upon us. This is what Jesus calls us to when he said we are the light of the world and our light must shine so that people may see our good works and give the glory to our Father in heaven (Mat 5:14-16). Saint Paul also admonishes that in a world of corruption, we must shine like stars (Phil 2:15). So, as Christians, called and saved in Christ Jesus, our lives should be lights that will lead people to God. When people come in contact with us, our lifestyle should be able to impress on them, the love of God and fire in them, the zeal to be better people. As God has granted us salvation, let us also help to save others; and may the grace of God give us the courage to do this, through Christ our Lord. Amen