Wednesday, December 22, 2021

December 26, 2021; The Feast of the Holy Family (Year C)


Readings: 1 Sm. 1:20-21, 24-28; 1 Jn. 3:1-2, 21-24; Lk 2:41-52 

Home is Where the Heart Is

1.    When people get married, they always think of a place they can call home, a place to come back to after a day's job, and where they would raise a family. A home should be a mini-church, a mini-school, and a mini-social center. Children learn to be good, loving, graceful, forgiving, gentle, humble, and spiritual from their parents. At home, they learn to pray. They learn table manners from home. What they learn from school should complement what they learned from home. Today, we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Mary seemed to have been a homemaker while Joseph was a carpenter – the breadwinner and Jesus was a child who learned from his parents. At least, so it seems! Was their home anxiety-free? Were they worried about anything or any member of the family?

2.    In the Collect today, we asked God to give us the shining example of the Holy Family so that we may imitate them in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity and so, in the joy of his house delight one day in eternal rewards. We want to model our family after that of the Holy Family. The first reading narrates the religious practice of Elkanah's family. It was customary for them to go and present themselves to the Lord in the temple in Shiloh to fulfill their vows. They would offer sacrifices and prayers of thanksgiving to God for blessings received. Samuel was an answer to Hannah's prayer. She had asked the Lord for him and promised to offer the child to God, should God answer her prayers. Now Hannah went to make good her pledge. Since God was at the center of her life, she dedicated Samuel to God.

3.    In the gospel, we meet Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, who, as a typical Jewish family, also made the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover. It was, no doubt, a joyful celebration where families traveled in groups and enjoyed the company of one another. Things sometimes get in the way in such gatherings, and the important things often get ignored or forgotten. In this journey, we see a typical family dynamic playing out in the Holy Family. The boy Jesus was forgotten and inadvertently left behind in the temple. One can only imagine the anxiety and panic that Mary and Joseph experienced during those agonizing hours that they could not account for Jesus' whereabout. They took him for granted and let their guards down. They thought Jesus would be taken care of by family members. They took some time out to be Mary and Joseph and not parents of a young boy of 12. Most families often find themselves in a similar situation. They take things for granted and often feel that the kids will be just fine in the care of others.

4.    Isn't it true that we often take things for granted ourselves and get busy with our jobs and think of providing material things for our children that we often forget who is taking care of them? When children grow up without close supervision from parents and caring adults; they grow into their own personalities and take up the guardian's attitude. Truth be told, once you become parents, you live, not for yourselves but the children. Hence the Church teaches the importance of responsible parenthood. Christian homes must be enabling environments for children to grow into responsible adults. If this is not the case, it may be too late to salvage the situation when they discover that the children are not with them.

5.    The beauty of the Holy Family and what makes it holy is that after paying the price for taking things for granted, they went back to the source, where it all began – the temple. It was in the temple that they discovered Jesus. While they took things for granted, God was hard at work, protecting his own. God had taken charge of the situation for Mary and Joseph. In referring to giving time to one another in the family, we must admit that the demands of time and situation are different today. The Holy Family of Nazareth was very much like any human family of their time. They also experienced the struggles of life – being refugees; working hard to make ends meet; having to meet the demands of the law and all the other tensions that an ordinary family had to face. Despite all that, they were happy together. They went through their struggles together. But most of all, they always had time for God. God was in the center of their lives. To turn our families into holy families, we must allow the bond that binds us together to grow stronger and our love for every family member unconditional. We must bear with one another in love and forgive each other as soon as misunderstanding comes in between family members. We must never take any member of the family for granted. Most of all, we must always go back to Jerusalem to find the missing link of our relationship; there we will find Christ. He will teach us that the family that prays together stays together. May the Holy Family intercede for us this day and into the new year. Amen. Happy Holy Family! Happy new year to one and all.


Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP.

Friday, December 17, 2021

December 19, 2021; 4th Sunday of Advent (Year C)

Readings: Mic. 5:1-4; Heb. 10:5-10; Lk 1:39-45


The Sinless and Most Humble Woman

1.    Who is the greatest? Is it the wealthiest person in the world? Or the most influential person? Could it be the person who boasts about himself and his riches? Jesus addressed his disciples on who the greatest is: “Let the greatest among you be as the youngest and the leader as the servant.” He asked them: “Who is greater: the one seated at table or the one who serves? Is it not the one seated at table? I am among you as the one who serves.” (Lk. 22:26-28). As we come to the end of the Advent season and begin the solemn preparation for the birth of Christ, I want to look at the humility of the Blessed Mother, Mary. After the fall, God’s love for humanity and his desire to enter a deeper relationship with us chose the sinless Mary to be the mother of his Son. Mary said ‘Yes’ to God. Yet Mary did not see herself as the queen of the universe, but the Handmaid of the Lord. “I am the Handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word”, she said. The angel also informed the Blessed Mother that her cousin, Elizabeth was with child. She was elderly and long past the child-bearing age. Nothing is impossible for God. When Mary heard that message, she thought of nothing else than going to be with her.  


2.    Mary, who just heard that she was to be the mother of God, the king of the universe, did not think of herself but her cousin. She went to share her joy and look after her for a few months before the birth of John the Baptist. Mary is indeed the greatest. She is not only sinless but humble. Little wonder why Jesus chose to be a servant leader! He took after her mother in service and greatness. How often do we see Mary as the blessed one, the chosen one, the one who should be adored and even worshipped! But Mary debunked our wrong notion of her. To the greeting of Elizabeth, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb,” Mary’s reply was: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; For he has looked upon his Handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” Mary attributed no greatness to herself; it was not by her achievement but due to God’s mercy and graciousness. God looked down on her with compassion and chose her to the position of greatness. She could only be grateful to God and believe and trust in God’s promises; she had to devote her life to God, listen to God, and ponder his mercy and love. Mary did not want us to have a wrong and misplaced adoration of her; she points the way to her son, always. “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn. 2:5) is always her command to us. Mary’s greatness lies in her humility and service.


3.    As we celebrate the visitation of Mary to Elizabeth on this 4th Sunday of Advent, we know that Christmas is here. When the Blessed Mother Mary visited Elizabeth, her cousin, she brought Christmas to her family. She shared the love of God with them and shared her time and her labor of love with her elderly cousin.  Mary shows us why Christmas is the most beautiful time of the year.  She invites us to share what we have with the people around us. 


4.    When John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” (Lk. 7:19). Jesus did not tell them that he was the Christ; instead, he said, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.”(Lk.7:22). In my opinion, this is what Christmas is all about. Like Mary and Jesus Christ, we are to bring solace to the life of the people around us. Christ sent John’s disciples back to tell John what they had seen and heard. It is about being there for people who are in need. To assist them the best we can and bring a change into their lives.


5.    This is what we must do. As we visit families and friends, we must bring good tidings to them. We must go to them with love and be prepared to share what we have with them. If there is a misunderstanding and dispute, we must bring about healing. If people are in need, we must share what we have, no matter how small. We can even bring along with us some labor of love, life cleaning the house, doing laundry and dishes, or maybe do some cooking and serving too. We can share our joy and laughter with them. Praying with our family and friends and encouraging them to go back to Church may be all that they need at this time. In your gift-giving, think of what will bring a difference to their lives and not just give anything, but let it be something durable, like a bible or rosary. You may even spend some time with someone lonely and pray with them. May Mary, our mother, show us how to celebrate Christmas through our labor of love. Amen. 



Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP

Friday, December 10, 2021

December 12, 2021; 3rd Sunday of Advent (Year C)


Readings: Zep. 3:14-18; Phil. 4:4-7; Lk 3:10-18


What Would You Like to Ask John?

1.    Today is the third Sunday of Advent. On this day, we wear a rose-colored chasuble and light the rose-colored Advent candle. The Entrance Antiphon taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians reads, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” Yes, indeed, there are less than two weeks to Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Christ, the Incarnation, and the salvation of the world. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (Jn. 3:16). We must rejoice, not because everything is perfect, but because despite the deplorable condition of the world and its sinful nature, God deems it fit to come to our rescue through his Son, born of a woman to redeem humanity and reconcile us to himself. The birth of Christ will bring us joy, peace, and happiness. But we must prepare for his coming by a life of repentance so that He may find us waiting in expectation for him. John the Baptist is still in the desert, calling us to repent, to a change of heart. He tells us to change the trajectory of our lives. Good deeds must accompany our repentance.


2.    Those who went to see John and heard his preaching were touched by his message. They wanted to know what practical bearing such a change of disposition might have on their lives (what should we do?). John told them that heeding the call to conversion implies a change in one’s lifestyle. He answered the persistent questions of their hearts and called the crowds, the tax collectors, and the soldiers to a new way of relating to others. John’s answer to ‘what should we do?’ was: “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. Whoever has food should do likewise.”According to John, we must share what we have with others, especially those who do not have as much as we do. The love of God is made manifest through sharing. The early Christians lived a life of sharing: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possession was his own, but they had everything in common. There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or house would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.” (Acts 4:32-35). Christ reminds us that we will be judged on love: whatever you did for the least of my people, you did it for me. (cf. Mt. 25:31-46).


3.    The tax collectors who wanted to know what to do, were told: “Stop collecting more than what is prescribed.” It was important that tax collectors also be baptized in preparation for the Messiah. Tax collectors were detested and discriminated against as the instruments of the Roman occupying power and seen by their fellow Jews to be extortionists. John told them to live in social justice with their compatriots, avoiding the corruption that typified their profession, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you”. The Messiah has no discrimination: He prevents or excludes no one from his presence. John put it well thus, “He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him. But to those who did accept him he gave the power to become children of God.” (John 1:11). John the Baptist assured the tax collectors that living a life of grace would guarantee them a place in the new dispensation brought about by the Messiah.


4.    Soldiers, too, wanted John to help them out. Soldiers were serving in the army of Herod Antipas as police. They supported the tax collectors in levying tolls and duties. John urged them not to shake people down. Though they were poorly paid and used their positions to extort money from people and intimidate them with trumped-up charges, they were to change their approach to their duties. “Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone. Be satisfied with your wages.” It seems soldiers are given the same treatment everywhere, and they too use their positions to force people to submission. John reminded them that having a new life means having a different outlook on things and people. By treating people fairly, with justice, love, and compassion, we experience peace and joy.


5.    On this Gaudete Sunday, we rejoice and celebrate for, “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.” Christ, our life has come into the world; therefore, we must live, love, and laugh. His birth brings us life; we celebrate life because he lives. Life makes it possible to love; we love and laugh because God is in our midst. So dear friends, let us do something that will bring joy, laughter, and happiness to somebody’s life today. Let us give something to someone this Christmas that will bring a smile to their faces, no matter how small. For in sharing our joy with others, we experience God’s love. St. Francis tells us that it is in giving that we receive. May we give a gift of love to someone this day so that they may live, love, and laugh, for Jesus, the greatest gift giver, is in our midst. May God bless us today and always. Amen!   


Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP


Thursday, December 2, 2021

December 05, 2021; 2nd Sunday of Advent (Year C)

Readings: Baruch 5:1-9; Phil 1:4-6, 8-11; Lk. 3:1-6


Preparing for Christ the Baptist’s Way


1.    Last week, we read from Jeremiah, who prophesied during the Babylonian exile. He encouraged the Jews to be hopeful because God “Will raise up for David a just shoot.” Today his secretary, Baruch, continued with that vision of hope and restoration for the Babylonian exiles. He promised them: “Jerusalem, take off your mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever: wrapped in the cloak of justice from God, bear on your head the miter that displays the glory of the eternal name.” Baruch saw that God would visit his people and bring them home again with glory. “Led away on foot by their enemies they left you: but God will bring them back to you borne aloft in glory as on royal thrones.” They must go through the desert where John the Baptist waits with the warning of repentance.


2.    The children of Israel had to pass through the desert to learn the way of the Messiah. John was not the first person to make the inward journey through the desert. Many prophets before him and after found God by way of the desert. Moses discovered God in the desert. The Israelites were taught obedience and submission in the desert, where they wandered for 40 days and 40 nights. David fled his son Absalom into the desert and sorted God’s protection. After the conversion of St. Paul, he went into the desert to seek clarification for his newfound faith and discovered his mission. Mohammed encountered Allah in the desert. Many monks and hermits spent a life of penitence and prayer in the desert. John the Baptist lived, prayed, and preached there as well. There he urged people to repent and prepare the way for the Messiah. Jesus Christ, St. Luke reports, was led by the Spirit into the desert, where he encountered God in preparation for his mission. These men saw in the desert a place of refuge from the distraction and noise of everyday life. They did not run away from the world but went into the desert to better prepare to face the world.


3.    The desert is a dry and unforgiving place; it exposes everyone there to the elements in their raw form. According to William Bausch: “You are as close to the edge of life and death as you could possibly be. No excess, no luxury, no illusions in the desert, just a total, vast, harsh emptiness. You live in total dependence, from hand to mouth, from day today. There are no distractions, no television sets, no microwaves, no cars, no nothing. Everything becomes intensely focused on the bare facts of existence, of yourself, and of God. There is just you – your utter, complete self and the vast emptiness of the desert. And the challenge the desert offers is this: what will you find there? Will you find God? If not there, then nowhere else.” It is fitting that John calls us to prepare for the coming of the Messiah by way of the desert. Here we will be humbled by the desert experience and find the Messiah. Then we would say with the Psalmist, “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.” To say this, however, we must be ready to do a few things right.


4.    We must listen to the voice crying in the wilderness telling us to “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” We have many mountains in life to either climb or bring low. Coronavirus and its mutable variables are daring us daily. A few months ago, it was the Delta variant, and now it is the Omicron variant. Can we ever get rid of this mountain? The only way to bring it down is through vaccination, booster shot, or whatever directives CDC gives us. This mountain has stopped many people from going to Mass; it must come down.  We must bring down the mountain of laziness in prayer or doing other religious activities. Let us also work on our mountain of pride and arrogance. We must fill in the valley of cluttering by learning to do with less and giving away the superfluous. There is nothing to distract us in the desert, so we should do more with less and grow rich spiritually. Let go of too much and give them away, and you will find joy with the Messiah. There are also the winding roads in our life that we must make straight. Dishonesty, lies, corruption, gossip, hateful and malicious speeches, names calling in high places, and uncharitable behaviors are some of the crooked paths we must make straight. To make straight the winding road for the Messiah, we need proper tools. Prayer and wonderful sacramental life, springled with ample water of charitable acts, coated with the bitumen of forgiveness, mercy, and compassion, are the machinery needed. These would help us create a reconstructed road for the Messiah to pass into our hearts. Hence, John the Baptist calls us to repent. He urged us to have a change of heart, adopt a new way of doing things and see things differently. And so, I join St. Paul in the second reading to pray “That the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”


5.    I pray with St. Paul “That your love may increase ever more and more in knowledge and every kind of perception, to discern what is of value, so that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.” Amen.


Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP

Friday, November 26, 2021

November 28, 2021; First Sunday of Advent (Year C)

Readings: Jer. 33:14-16; 1 Thess 3:12-4:2; Lk. 21:25-28, 34-36


Be Prepared; Be Alert.

1.    I find the gospel reading of this first Sunday of Advent fascinating. Jesus said: “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.” In a nutshell, we should not allow these signs and cosmic upheaval to distract us from our Lord. We must, therefore, be prepared for Christ and see death as a welcome passage to everlasting life. 


2.    There is much happening in the world that is enough to frighten the daylight out of us. There is so much violence, anger, greed, hatred, corruption, and complete disregard for human life. We read and watched with great anxiety, revolutions, insurrections, religious conflicts and persecution, the reckless killing of Christians in different parts of the world that make us wonder if the end of the world is at hand. We watch with anticipation how prices of foodstuff continue to skyrocket, and the pump price of gas is always on the increase, and we wonder if we will have enough to see us through the month with our stagnated income. We worry about our future and that of our children. We often wonder if God is still with us. Three weeks ago, we reflected on the theme that you never live well if you are afraid of death. That is the truth!


3.    Let us not forget that the Jews lived through a period not entirely different from our own. They, too, had their share of suffering, pains, persecution, destruction, and intimidation during the Babylonian exile. It was the worst time of their lives. Jeremiah lived through this period, too; he witnessed both the destruction of Jerusalem and the sacred temple, their pride, and the sign of God’s presence for them. He lived through this horrendous period, but his hope in God was so strong that he prophesied that God was still with his people. He reminded them that God “will raise up for David a just shoot; he shall do what is right and just in the land. In those days, Judah shall be safe, and Jerusalem shall dwell secure.” As God was with his people in the past, he would indeed protect his people now. Therefore, there is no reason to be afraid. Christians should be alert, hold their heads high and welcome the Lord whenever he comes to take them home. 


4.    Advent is a period of waiting anxiously for the coming of the Messiah at his birth. During the four weeks of Advent, we stay in hope and not in fear. For the Lord comes to rule the earth and render justice to those unjustly oppressed. At Advent, the Church also anticipates the second coming of Christ when he comes to judge the world with righteousness. St Peter tells us what to do while we wait. “Therefore, beloved, since you await these things be eager to be found without spot or blemish before him, at peace.” (2Peter 3:14). Therefore, a Christian must always be prepared to meet the Lord. “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.” (Lk 12:37).


5.    The four weeks of Advent are penitential days that should aid us in preparing for the Lord. We are not to worry about material preparation for the birth of Christ, as important as that may be. The Lord comes for our hearts, and he wants to dwell in our souls. Let us be men and women of prayer. You have heard me talk about this almost every Sunday. We cannot profess to be good Christians if we do not have a healthy prayer life. We must be regimental when it comes to praying. Find a suitable time for your daily prayer and work it into your schedule. Do you pray as a family? Does your child find you praying at different times during the day? Have you taught them to pray on their own, apart from praying together? What about the rosary? Do you pray together? Teach them the importance of praying the rosary and make it desirable for them to pray with you or on their own. What about your sacramental life? We should go to confession at least two times a year, if not frequently. Advent and Lent are the best times to purify our hearts through the sacrament of reconciliation.


6.    Advent also reminds us to be engaged in sporadic acts of kindness. It reminds us to love one another with sincere Christian love. St. Peter says this about love: “The end of all things is at hand. Therefore, be serious and sober for prayers. Above all, let your love for one another be intense because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1Peter 4:7-10). Do not forget to give in charity since Advent anticipates the outpouring of God’s love on humanity. Christ is God’s love for us. We must show the world that we belong to God by the way we love. Spend time and listen to God speak to you through his Word. Read John’s Gospel, a chapter each day of Advent. May God bless and guide us as we begin this new liturgical year of God’s blessings on humanity. Amen.


Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP.

Thursday, November 18, 2021

November 21, 2021; Last Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B) - Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe


Readings: Dan 7:13-14; Rev. 1:5-8; Jn. 18:33-37


Testifying To the Truth – For what Do You Live? For What Will You Die?


1.    The opening prayer in today’s Mass sets the tone for our liturgy on this solemnity of Christ the King. The Church reminds us that it is the will of God to restore all things in Christ, His beloved Son, the King of the universe. For God intends for all to have a share in his kingdom. God wants the whole creation to be set free from slavery and render Him service and ceaselessly proclaim His praise. In the Preface, we pray, “For you anointed your Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, with the oil of gladness as eternal Priest and King of all creation, so that, by offering Himself on the altar of the Cross as a spotless sacrifice to bring us peace, he might accomplish the mysteries of human redemption and, making all created things subject to his rule, he might present to the immensity of your majesty an eternal and universal kingdom, a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.” Jesus Christ was born for this purpose, to establish the kingdom of God on earth and bring all people, regardless of tribe, race, creed, color, or nationality, to God. His kingdom is for everyone. He was born for this; he testifies to it, lived for it, and was prepared to die for it. Those who listened to him and obeyed his teaching are members of his kingdom, but those who do not will be left out.


2.    This was the answer that Christ gave to Pilate in today’s gospel: “You say I am a king. For this, I was born, and for this, I came into the world to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Christ was put to death because of the truth about his mission, just like John the Baptist was put to death for defending the truth. For John had told Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” (Mk.6:18). Herodias harbored a grudge against him, and not long afterward, Herod beheaded John. John died in defense of the truth. Jesus was always on the side of truth. He cured the sick on the Sabbath; he saved the life of a woman caught in the act of committing adultery by indirectly accusing her accusers, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” (Jn. 8:7). He drove away those who were selling and changing money in the temple and said to them, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” (Jn. 2:16). Christ knew that these actions would bring him face to face with the powers that be. But he stood by his actions and was undaunted in the face of death. He was born for this, to bear witness to the truth. 


3.    As we celebrate the universal kingship of Jesus today, we call to mind Christ’s sermon on the mount. The Beatitudes describe the quality of sons and daughters of the new kingdom. They are peacemakers, the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. They must love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them. They must bear no grudge and seek no revenge. They must share what they have with others and give a helping hand to those in need. (cf. Mt. 5, 6, 7, 18, 25). These men and women are on the side of the truth. They understand Christ when he said, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.” It was not surprising why Pilate asked Christ in verse 38, “What is truth?”


4.    In our world today, it is not easy to know whether there is objective or absolute truth or subjective truth. Do we have alternate truth or personal truth? Lies and corruption are common in high places and at times, we are confused about the fact. For what are we living? For what are we prepared to die? Is it worth living a life of honesty and integrity anymore? Can we give our word and keep it? What is the role of a Christian, the follower of Christ, in a confusing world as ours?  Vima Dasan, SJ in ‘His Word Lives’ States, “Sharing in the kingship of Christ is glorious but precarious, for it is demanding. As Christ bore witness to the truth, lived by it, and died for it, we too, by virtue of the gift of truth received in our hearts at baptism, are called to speak only the truth unattended by a bodyguard of lies and of course to spread the truth from pole to pole. Since the truth we have received is not just in our minds but in our hearts, we have not only to speak it but to do it, in justice and love.” Are we prepared to face the consequence of living the truth? It will isolate us and make us stand alone as Christ stood alone before Pilate. It will take away our friends and give us names. Christ warned us, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.” (Lk. 12:51). Our identification with Christ and standing for the kingdom principles will cause division in our lives and in our families. 


5.    Let us be men and women who, like Christ, live by the truth and are prepared to die for the truth. Let us be men and women of honesty and integrity and pray that we may stand by the kingdom principles. May Christ the universal King welcome us into his kingdom when our pilgrim life on earth comes to an end. Amen. 


Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP

Thursday, November 11, 2021

November 14, 2021; 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year B)

Readings: Dan 12:1-3; Heb. 10:11-14, 18; Mk. 13:24-32

You Never Lived Well If You are Afraid of Death

1.     At the end of the year, the Church turns our minds towards the end of time, the eschatology. It brings to our minds the four last things – death, judgment, heaven, or hell. Everyone must face three of these realities at the end. But we do not know when the end will come. So, we predict, despite, all odds when we think the end will come. And the fear of our demise sometimes overwhelms us. William Shakespeare captured our fear of death in his drama, Julius Caesar, when he said, “Cowards die many times before their death; The valiant never taste of death but once. Of all the wonders that I yet have heard. It seems most strange that men should fear; Seeing that death, a necessary end will come when it will come.” Yet there are others, knowing the end is inevitable sometimes live as if it will never happen to them. The readings of today leave no one in doubt about the inevitability of the end.

2.     The book of Daniel is one of the apocalyptical books of the bible. These books reveal what will happen at the end of time. They were written when the children of Israel were undergoing great persecution, stress, and trauma. The first reading predicted that the Syrians would try to destroy the faith of the Jewish people and persecute and kill those who were faithful to their religion and God. According to Daniel, “It shall be a time unsurpassed in distress since nations began until that time.” It will be so severe that Michael, the archangel, will arise to guard the people. Daniel encouraged the people to remain faithful and committed to their faith. Their perseverance will win them the crown of glory. In the end, even those who died will awake to face judgment. The virtuous will live forever and shine like the stars, while the unfaithful will face everlasting horror and disgrace. James stressed this point thus: “Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance…for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him.” (James 1:1,12). The Psalmist called on God to be his inheritance.

3.     Today’s gospel continues from where the first reading left off. It talks about the great tribulations that will affect everything under the sun, including nature and the elements. “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.” Though this will be a terrible time that will inflict fear in the hearts of men, it will usher in the Son of man and the final establishment of the kingdom of God. “And then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory and then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.” The virtuous will reign with Jesus in his glory forever. “But of that day or hour, no one knows, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son but only the Father.”

4.     The point stressed in these readings is, we must be prepared for the second coming of Christ. Christ urged us to “Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open, immediately when he comes and knocks.” (Lk. 12:35-40). There is no need to be worried or fearful about the end. Indeed, we are always afraid of the unknown. But worrying will do us no good. Only those who did not live well should worry about death and dying. What legacy are we leaving behind? How did your life impact others? Have you left a will for your loved ones? Do you have a durable power of attorney? Did you have an Advance Directive made when last you were sick in the hospital? Do you still talk to members of your family? Or do you find it difficult to forgive them? Is there anyone you cannot forgive? These are good points to ponder when faced with the inevitability of death and dying. Our spiritual life must be in accordance with the teaching of Christ. When did you go to confession last? Do you have an active prayer life? Do you read your bible regularly and pray the rosary daily? Prophet Micah tells us what we must do: “You have been told, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (6:8). Being a Christian is not what we say but what we do. We must learn to love and forgive all, even our enemies.

5.     St Paul tells us, “None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.” (Rm. 14:7). It means that our lives have a bearing on others. We must think actively about those in our society that we must assist. Remember, at the end of time, we will be judged on love, how we were available to others in their needs. These are the people who will lead us to the Son of man when he appears in his glory. Then He will admit us into the kingdom prepared for us since the foundation of the world. May it be so now and always. Amen. 

Rev. Augustine Etemma Inwang, MSP.