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Saturday, 2 March 2019

EIGHT SUNDAY OF ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

EIGHT SUNDAY OF YEAR C

1st Reading Sirach: 27:4-7; 2nd Reading 1 Cor. 15:54-58; Gospel Luke 6:39-45

THEME: DON’T JUDGE PEOPLE BEFORE YOU TRULY KNOW THEM

By: NOEL OGADIMMA ONYEULO

A 25 year old boy seeing out of the train window shouted, “Dad, look the trees are going behind!” His Dad smiled and a young couple sitting nearby, looked at the 25 year Old’s childish behaviour with pity. Suddenly, the boy exclaimed again, “Dad, look the clouds are running with us!” The couple sitting beside this time couldn’t resist and said to the old man… “Why don’t you take your son to a good doctor?” The old man smiled and said… “I did and we are just coming from the hospital, my son was blind from birth, he just got his eyes today.” Every single person on the planet has a story. Don’t judge people before you truly know them: The truth might surprise you!

Friends, how often do we judge people without truly knowing them? The story above encapsulates the message of today’s readings. 

In the first reading, Sirach exhorts us to watch our speech because it is from our speech that our inner self is tested and often reveals. Ones we open our mouth we reveal ourselves. Therefore, Sirach admonishes us not to praise people before they speak, for this is the way people are tested. When we gossip, make hasty conclusions and rash judgments against people, we tell people a lot more about ourselves than those we are condemning. This emphasis on speech spurs us more to develop more our listening capacity and not allowing the inner noise of self-righteousness to distract us from knowing the true situation of events and things. This teaching is also relevant in a world lacking integrity of public relations like ours today. Our politicians betray us by speech making. For them, speeches and promises made during the campaign period have nothing to do with the time of office. It is also the case with some men of God whose lives are at variance with their speeches. This reading from the Jewish sage exhorts us to be men and women marked by the integrity of our speeches and actions.     

In the second reading, St. Paul ends his discussion on the resurrection of the dead with the hymn of the victory of Christ over death. Paul reminds us that God will destroy death forever, and if we are to share in this victory and live forever with the Lord, then we must take all steps necessary to give our hearts and lips to what is good. Hence, Christ is so much interested in purity of heart and speech because they help to decide our final judgment.

In the Gospel from St. Luke, we meet Jesus in his own words challenging our careless and malicious judgment against one another. Last Sunday, Jesus told us not to judge or we would be judged as such. This is not a prohibition on admonishing others when they are committing sinful behaviour or a cover for immoral behaviours. What is being forbidden by Jesus is not judgment as such but negative, destructive judgment. The statements that follow the prohibition on judging indicate that it is an elaboration on the Golden rule- the idea that we should treat others the way we would love to be treated. What Jesus means is that God will judge us at the final and particular judgment. It is only a question of how we would love to be judged. In our right minds, we would love to be judged with mercy, compassion and forgiveness. This is the way Jesus wants us to treat others. In this context, Jesus does not want us to be uncompassionate, unforgiving and unmerciful towards others. He wants us to be like him. There are times when we are expected to give constructive, helpful criticism. But, we cannot pass judgment unless we have some vision and understanding. How can the blind, those without understanding, presume to give leadership to others who are blind? Jesus asks us. The result is inevitable: “Both will fall into the pit.” However, it is necessary that one should speak from genuine knowledge, accurate data and to the people who can do something about it. The same applies to everything else we like to pass judgment on. It is important to emphasize further that the Gospel is in no way saying we should not have opinions or that we should not express them or admonish others. What it is saying is that we must avoid having such a high awareness of the shortcomings of others that we lose the ability to see and accept our own shortcomings. This tells us that the real solution is for me to change. We ought to respond in a positive way rather than think negatively of the other or find fault in them. We personally must be in charge of my own life and stop trying to change others. We can recollect what Fr. Antony de Mello used to say, “When I change, my whole world changes”. And, not only that, when I change, other people are likely to change but, even if they do not, my attitude towards them will not be the same.

Finally, the disciple is not above the teacher. This is to say that our judgments should be like those of the merciful Jesus. The one who is fully qualified will be like the teacher: judging to save and help, not to knock down and destroy. If we are to avoid blindness we need to walk in the footsteps of people who can see and judge mercifully with love. This is precisely the challenge of today’s gospel for each one of us.

SIXTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR C

SIXTH SUNDAY OF YEAR C

1ST Reading: Jeremiah 17: 5 – 8; 2nd Reading: 1 Cor. 15: 12. 16 – 20; Gospel: Luke 6: 17. 20 – 26

NOEL OGADIMMA ONYEULO

noeldominor@gmail.com (The Mercifier Outreach)

THEME: TRUST GOD, NOT CIRCUMSTANCES

Friends, today’s readings are anchored on the consequences of rejecting God and the judgement that follows. In the first reading, we see the prophet Jeremiah exhorting the Israelites on the need to trust in God amidst all circumstances. The book of Jeremiah is designed to show the exiles and the reasons for the captivity of Israelites. They were in Babylon, not because God has forgotten his promises to Israel, but because Israel has been unfaithful to God. The book also taught the captives to wait patiently for the seventy years to elapse and not to seek a quick release through military or political power, by trusting in other nations for deliverance. Finally, the book encouraged the captives that after their bondage, there would come a time of restoration and renewal under the new covenant.  For Jeremiah, the Babylonian Exile was as a result of Israel disobedience, idolatry, immorality and rebellion against God. The people of Israel nursed a false sense of security and so were under the impression that just because the temple of the Lord was in the middle of Jerusalem, they were entrusted to trust in themselves and evil doings and at the same time ‘come and stand before me in this house which is called by my name (Jer. 7: 8- 10). This attitude is religious hypocrisy of the highest order! A first class sin crying to God for judgement! This necessitated the message of Jeremiah on God’s judgment on them. So, if they fail to repent from their sins and turn back to the Lord in pure heart and contrite spirit, disaster awaits them. According to the first reading, cursed is the man who placed his trust in man… and blessed is the man who placed his trust in the Lord. Our society is not unlike that confronted by Jeremiah. Are we guilty of forgetting the God we claim to worship? Is there a progressive deterioration of our moral fiber as we forget the one who gave us our resources in the first place? Unless this trend is reversed in our lives and communities, the consequences are unthinkable.

In the second reading, the point is made by St. Paul that the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ remains the beacon of hope for all who believe in Christ. For St. Paul, death is not the annihilation of human destiny neither is it the end of life. By this, St. Paul warns that not believing in the resurrecrion of Christ will only give way to incredulity on Christian faith which will eventually end up in self-help and idolatry. This is because the resurrection faith is a testimony of the Almightiness of God irrespective of circumstance; the Almightiness which the greatest enemy of man - death- cannot stop. Christ's victory over death is an exaltation of the human suffering. So, if Christ has power over the last enemy of man - putting an end to death and revealing the resurrection- there is no circumstance he cannot overcome for his people. Moreover, death played the same role as the destruction Jerusalem played for the Jews. So as the destruction of Jerusalem did not bring to the end of the Jewish world, so the death of Christ did not bring to the end of Christianity. Christ's death and resurrection became the seed of imperishable life and hope for all in different circumstances for all ages. For if God can raise Jesus Christ from the dead, there's no human condition he cannot intervene.

In the Gospel, the evangelist Luke is said to be writing for the Jews, gentiles and whole human race. It is an inclusive Gospel. The import of the number ‘12’ Apostles is a consolidation of a gospel to the Jews; the Disciples, a consolidation of a gospel for the gentiles and the great multitude of people, a consolidation of the relevance of the Gospel even to those who do not know or believe in Christ. So, we see in his Luke's gospel a consolation for all circumstances irrespective of time and generation. Jesus had a long struggle with a people who are determined to go their own way just like the Jews in the time of Jeremiah. And Jeremiah’s teaching and Pauline exhortation are parallel to the message of Jesus, which says ‘you cannot save yourself!’ You cannot engineer a solution to sin, or to your present problems, or save yourself from death!’ All we need is to trust patiently in God’s restoration and renewal at all circumstances; rich or poor, and not exaggerating the extent human help can lead us. For the Psalmist exhorts today: ‘Blessed the man who has placed his trust in the Lord… he is like a tree planted beside the flowing waters, that yield its fruit in due season, and whose leaves shall never fade; and all that he does shall prosper’.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

LAMENTATIONS OF AN INNOCENT NIGERIAN PRISONER By: Onyeulo Noel Ogadimma

(Poem written for the inauguration of MERCY FOR PRISONERS APOSTOLATE a.k.a THE MERCIFIERS)

How many tribulations and hardship must I endure,
Before you plead my cause for a fair trial?
How many evidence must proof my innocence,
Before you give me justice?

How many years must I exceed my bail agreement,
Before you give me freedom?
How much malnourished must I look,
Before you give me food?

How many sickness and infections must I suffer,
Before you give me medication?
How much naked must I appear,
Before you give me clothing?

How many ears must you have,
Before you hear my cry?
How many eyes must you have,
Before you see my tears?

But, I know my Redeemer liveth,
I know he is not far from me,
I know one day he will come,
And you shall know my Redeemer liveth!

Phone+2347032786152
Email: noeldominor@gmail.com

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Why I created Ministry of Happiness In Imo State– Governor Okorocha

Imo state governor, Rochas Okorocha, said on Tuesday, he observed the people of the state, were bittered, he created the Ministry of Happiness and Purpose Fulfilment, to archive happiness for them. A statement by Okorocha’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Sam Onwuemeodo, confirmed this in a release to newsmen in Owerri.

“The real essence of life is to be happy and to fulfill one’s purpose in life. Government officials are elected to address this.This is the very reason people elect their leaders to guarantee their happiness and purpose fulfillment.”
The governor went further to say: “There is no activity of mankind that is not geared towards providing happiness.

“Unfortunately, this vital element of our social lives has not been properly addressed. Governments at different levels have created several ministries and departments to achieve this, yet people are bitter, angry with hate speeches which lead to crisis, war and even terrorism.

“In today’s world, especially in our country, millions of people are not fulfilling their purpose in life because of lack of mentorship and guidance. There is complete talent abuse as people no longer engage in life activities suitable to their talents.

“Sometimes in university environments, students are meant to study courses they ordinarily would like to do.
“This has given rise to why we have people who are favored, do work against their natural will just to survive.

“Happiness and Purpose Ministry therefore, is established for the lost time to correct the policy framework to guide Ministries and Department son what they must do to guarantee the citizens happiness and contribute better to the society.”

Monday, 27 November 2017

THE BIAFRA IDEOLOGY: WHERE NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT GOOFED! By: Onyeulo Noel Ogadimma

The Chinese Philosopher Confucius once said that "the only way to cure the ills of the society is to restore the original meaning to human words". For Confucius, when words loose their original meaning they no longer represent what they signify. When words no longer represent what they signify either by misinterpretation or misrepresentation, it breeds confusion in the society!

One of the words that is gradually loosing its original meaning in our society today is the word -"Ideology ". What is ideology? From its original meaning, ideology comes from the Greek verb "idea, ideo" meaning vision, pattern or creed. In definition, Ideology is a comprehensive set of normative beliefs, conscious and unconscious ideas, that an individual, group or society holds. Simply put; Ideology is the lens through which the people see or view their world. Good! For a belief to be "normative", it is no longer at the level of option. It has become part of the pathological psychology of its bearers. Its genetic codes can be transmuted from one generation to another. When inherited, it endures, if not forever! This is why most historians has confirmed that the greatest and most difficult war is to fight against an ideology. It's the most difficult because it's not a matter of physical battle which often ends with disarmament; it is an intellectual war which is often won with "HUMILITY IN DIALOGUE". Humility demands that you have to make your opponent understand through dialogue that you are not a threat to his belief and existence.

Unfortunately, as regards the Biafran Revolution in the South East of Nigeria, the Nigerian government goofed! The Nigerian government have to understand that the Biafran Revolution is simply an Ideology! Just like every other ideology, the Biafra Ideology is a pathological reality. It is the Creed of a people; a pattern and vision of life. As a Tale, it is transmitted from one generation to another. It is a tale to remember! Most often when Political imbalance spurs up revolution, there is always the tendency for People to remember their past, present and future and so use their ideology to register their grievances. The Nigerian Government have to understand that it may not be far from what the IPOB is doing. Instead of unleashing the dragons with fire arms and Military intimidation against unarmed civilians of the IPOB, I suggest the Nigerian Government mediate into the IPOB Revolution with Humility in Dialogue! Telling South Easterners in Nigeria to forget Biafra is like telling the Germans to forget the Berlin Wall or telling the Jews to forget the whirling walls of the Temple of Jerusalem!

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

THINKING AND THANKING THURSDAY By: Noel Ogadimma Onyeulo

(Poem Dedicated to the Citizens of United States of America on the Celebration of their National Thanksgiving Day)

Beat the drum!
Blow the Trumpet!
It’s a Thursday for thinking beings
Who think before eating and are thankful after eating.

But, who made the Turkey?
You are silent?
Speak that I may hear!
Yes, it’s the Lord.

So, eat the Turkey
But, don’t eat the thanks!
Think before eating the Turkey
But, don’t eat the turkey before thinking!

When you eat the Turkey says the Lord
You shall jubilate over the task of unity
You shall think and thank God this Thursday
For in God we Trust!      
         
Address: Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu Nigeria.
Email Address: noeldominor@gmail.com
Phone no. +2347032786152             

Saturday, 18 November 2017

DO STORIES MATTER? By: Onyeulo Noel Ogadimma (Theology Student of Bigard Memorial Seminary Enugu Nigeria)

The great Indian Jesuit priest and Story writer, Anthony de Mello once said that the shortest distance between truth and a human being is a story. Stories guide human beings in their search for truth and meaning of life.  We should be concerned about the stories we digest because they form part of how we relate with events, peoples and places. Stories are like imaginative vehicles through which we travel to places either factual or fictional. Stories create most times a definitive picture of our believe system; whatever we know about an event, people and places are most often an aftermath of stories we have heard about them. With stories we can wound or heal and we can also create a true or false image of people, place or event. The African writer and story teller, Chimamanda Adichie in one of her stories titled “The Danger of a Single story” quoted the Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti who writes that “if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story…” Using a story, you can make a definite picture of peoples, events and places.

However, stories matter! So, to get at true picture of reality we need what the African Star Novelist Chinua Achebe called “Balance of stories”. Not just a “balance of stories” but “a dialogical balance of stories”. A “dialogical balance of stories” is an assessment of all the basic components of a story including its negative and positive occurrences. The basic components of a story include; who told the story? How the story is told? When a story is told? And how many stories are told? All these components provide a kind of dialogical balance to reality and are dependent on one another to proof the veracity of a story. For reality is composed of two opposites (Light and Darkness, White and Black, Rich and Poor etc); so we need a “dialogical balance of stories” to mediate between these opposites in order to give balance to our logic and judgment. With story, one can unlock the door to reality but cannot do that with a single story. It is dangerous to base ones judgment or logic on a single story because they are incomplete and inequitable. According to Adichie, a single story portrays a people as one thing over and over again and has the capacity of making a definite story and picture of another person. For her, the danger of a single story is not only that they are untrue but they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story. The consequence of a single story is that it robs people of their dignity and makes our recognition of equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes on how we are different rather than how we are similar. For instance, oftentimes some black people have been afraid of talking to or relating with White people either on face to face encounter or social media for fear of racism ranging from the single story told years ago that all whites are racist. But today, some of us are proud to say from “balance of stories” that the greatest unconditional love and favor we have received in life is courtesy of our white friends. They deserve my praise! Also in Nigeria, one of the present social and political unrest in the country is traceable to the danger of a single story; where the Igbo man is only told the negative stories of the Hausa Man and the Hausa Man have also come to believe on a single story of the Igbos as his major enemy to rival with. Hence, Nigeria needs a “dialogical balance of stories” to define her future and challenges despite her cultural diversity.

In fine, we need a kind of “dialogical balance of stories” to regain a paradise in our relationship with people and quest for reality. I wish to conclude with an excerpt from Adichie’s story- “The Danger of a Single Story” which reads; “Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign people. It can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people but stories can also repair that broken dignity… when we reject and realize that there is never a single story about any place {people and event}, we regain a kind of paradise”.