Let Love Motivate Our Every Word and Deed

10-31-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord Our God, is the Lord alone, Therefore, you should love the Lord your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today.” These were the words of Moses to the Israelites in today’s first reading from the book of Deuteronomy. It is called Jewish shema perhaps one of the most recited and most beloved prayer of Judaism. The prayer proclaims the oneness of God and the basis of the Jewish pure monotheism. The most amazing thing about this is that Jews proclaim this oneness of God at a time when all other countries around them embraced polytheism. For the Jews, this God demands wholehearted love and devotion above any other acts of worship. It is this absolute confidence in the oneness of God that Moses enjoins his people to have and that with that their lives would be prolonged. In the same way, our observance of God’s commandment guarantees our loyalty to God. When we give God true and undivided devotion and worship, we become more of what God wants us to be because we are created in his image and likeness.


God Works Great Miracles

10-24-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

The Prophet Jeremiah in the first reading presents us with God’s infinite and gratuitous love for His people. It is a message of hope and a proclamation of salvation to the remnant of Israel. Yahweh promises to bring back His people in exile from the lands to which they have been scattered. Jeremiah is known at times for his prophecy of disasters, and catastrophes, the only words he seemed to be able to utter were threats. In today’s passage he announces good news to the people. He invites all to be cheerful and make merry, for according to him, God is about to work great miracles in their midst. God will liberate the people of Israel, who have been in exile in Nineveh for about a hundred years to return to their land.


To Lay One's Life For Others

10-17-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

The first reading from the Prophesy of Isaiah and the Gospel of Mark calls our attention to the fact that true greatness is rooted in service to others. Jesus exemplifies this when He says I have not come to be served but to serve and give my life as a ransom for many. The second reading tells us that the Son of God was not afraid to come down to our human level. He demonstrated the depth of His love by sharing with our human condition. Thus, we should be confident to approach Him as we are without any shame or fear since He is not afraid to call us His brothers and sisters.


The Evil of Attachment

10-10-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

The first reading from the book of Wisdom reflects on how the prayer for the gift of wisdom was granted “I prayed and prudence was given to me, I pleaded, and the spirit of wisdom came to me”. Wisdom is personified as female and a value to sort after because she is at the center of every other gift. The reading exalts all to seek for wisdom and the best place to get this gift is in prayer. When Solomon was asked by God to make only a single request he prayed for wisdom of God because with the gift of wisdom we understand how to do God’s will. In the second reading from the letter to the Hebrews, the word of God is described as sharper than any double-edged sword. The metaphor of the double-edged sword used in describing the word of God exemplifies the effect and power the word of God has. Its power rests on how it accomplishes tasks beyond imagination. The Word of God accomplishes such because it is Jesus Himself who is the word of God.


Marriage is a Gift from God

10-03-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

Marriage forms the theme of today’s liturgy as both the first reading from the book of Genesis and Mark’s Gospel have something to say on the sacrament of marriage. Jesus in His response to the question “Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife” put to him by the Pharisees, refers them to the original intention of marriage at creation: a man leaves his father and mother and joins his wife and they form a union making them one body and not two and what God has joined together no person has power to separate.


Power in the Name of Jesus

09-26-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

In today’s gospel Jesus teaches the need to recognize the gifts of others even when they are not of our group, the reward for a charity done to those who preach the word of God and to cut off anything that would separate us from God. Mark’s Gospel of today, sets off with John’s questions to Jesus about an unknown exorcist who was driving out demons in Jesus’ name. John’s question might have been motivated by jealousy. The disciple of Jesus observed that the unknown exorcist invoked Jesus’ name and was successful in his healing efforts. This unknown healer recognized the power of Jesus’ name, yet he was not a follower of Jesus. In Jesus’ reply: Jesus acknowledges that deeds of faith can precede the words of faith.


Faith, Trust and Humility of a Child

09-19-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

Last week’s gospel presented us with the question Jesus asked His disciples: who do people say that the Son of Man is? The different responses of the disciples failed to give a correct answer to the identity of who Jesus is, which prompted Him to ask them more directly, but “who you say that I Am?” Then, Peter spoke on behalf of the apostles that He was the Christ which means the Anointed One.


Who is Jesus for You?

09-12-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

In today’s gospel reading Jesus asks His disciples “who do the people say the Son of Man is?” The disciples told Him what other people say “You are John the Baptist, others say Elijah, others Jeremiah, and still others say one of the prophets.” Thereafter, He asks them a direct question, “but you who have been with Me all this time, who do you think I Am?” Peter speaking on behalf of the other apostles said, “You are the Christ.” The second part of Jesus question was a personal question in the same way this same question is what each one is called to answer personally, “who is Jesus for you?” How do you respond to the question of who Jesus is?


Be Strong, Fear Not, for Your God Comes to Save You

09-05-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

The passage of today’s first reading from the Prophet Isaiah may have been written during the Babylonian exile. There were very difficult moments in the life and history of Israel when they seem to have lost all hope of returning back to Jerusalem. It was in the midst of this hopeless situation that the prophecy of Isaiah comes to console and encourage the people, “Thus, says the Lord, say to those whose hearts are frightened or the fearful heart, be strong, fear not. Here comes your God, He comes with vindication He comes to save you.” God not only offers those words of hope and courage, but He assures them that He comes to save them. He goes further to prophecy to them that “the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared and the lame leap like a stag and the tongue of the mute will sing.”


God's Decrees Give Life

08-29-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

Moses in the first reading of today prepares for his final departure as the Israelites are about to enter the Promised Land. Knowing that his death is at sight he gives his final farewell message to the people. The message is anchored on the commandments, God has given them as a people and he encourages them not to remove or add anything to that law. He reiterates that this law is a special gift that reveals God’s closeness to the people of Israel, it also had to be guarded and preserved just as it was revealed. This is why he warns them not to add or remove anything from the law because it is sacred and meant to be a guiding light for them. The observance of this word of God would keep them alive, as they enter to take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of their fathers is giving them.


Jesus is the Holy One God and we Believe and are Convinced.

08-22-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

Today’s Gospel reading concludes the discourse on the bread of life we have been reading for the past four weeks now .The central argument John sets out in his gospel was to prove to his audience that Jesus is the Holy One of God. He is the anointed Messiah who came down from heaven. He is the Bread of Life, the Light of the world and the Good Shepherd. This is evident in the response of Peter to Jesus when he asked the twelve “Do you also want to leave” and Peter answered, “ Master to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that You are the Holy One of God.” Peter’s answer seals the murmurings, and quarrelling among the disciples on how this Man can give us his flesh to eat. Peter has always been inspired by the Holy Spirit to reveal the true identity of Jesus at a very critical moment and this is what he has demonstrated again by this response to Jesus’ question that Jesus has the key to eternal life and there is no other place to go than to Jesus.


Heaven is Our Goal

08-15-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

Today we celebrate the solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary into heaven. It means that Mary was taken body and soul into heaven. It was not by her own power that she was assumed into heaven, but by the special grace of God that her body should not experience corruption of decay as she was preserved from the beginning to give birth to one who is Holy. Her Assumption was a privilege she enjoyed as the Mother of God and totally sinless she was rewarded by God for that act. The feast celebrates the special place that Mary has in the life of the Church. By her assumption we can understand that Mary, because of the dignity of her motherhood and her own personal submission to God’s will at every stage of her life, takes precedence over everyone in sharing of God’s glory which is the destiny of all of us who die united with Christ her Son.


Jesus is Truly the Bread of Life that Strengthens Us

08-08-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

Elijah in the first reading of today presents a very despairing situation as a result of the challenges he faces in his ministry to the point that he prayed for death. However, instead of granting his request God sends him heavenly nourishment through the angels to keep him going. There are times we are confronted with life challenges that like Elijah we become so depressed that we may have prayed that God take our life. The good news is that the angels are never far from us when we face such life challenges. The angel of God comes as well to provide us the strength we need to embark on the journey of life but recognizing the angel depends on how open we are to see them in moments of trials and difficult situations. Paul in the second reading calls our attention to certain things we must get rid of in our life so as to enrich our relationship with God and one another. According to Paul. “All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting and reviling must be removed …forgiving one another as God has forgiven us”. The truth is that resentment, bitterness and anger not only create a big barrier in our relationship with God but are capable of harming our physical health and even at times affect our internal organs. Anytime we allow bitterness, unforgiving spirit and anger to take hold of us we chain ourselves and refuse to unlock the chain to set ourselves free.


Do Not Work for Food that Perishes

08-01-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. Anthony Okolo, C.S.Sp

Today’s gospel reading is a continuation of last Sunday’s reading where Jesus multiplied five barley loaves and two fish to feed the people and at the end they were all satisfied with about twelve basket as left over. This miracle is more than just feeding the people to satisfy their physical hunger, it goes to point to Jesus as the bread of life and as one who sustains life. Having fed very well, the crowd were so amazed at the miracle that they started looking for Jesus. On seeing Jesus they told him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?” Jesus immediately told them “you were looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled.” He then told them “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life”. The question for our personal reflection is, what is this food that endures for eternal life and how do we work for it?